When you love someone who is an addict, it can often overwhelm your own life. You may be obsessed with learning how to help an addict or asking “how can I help an addict.” You may find that you’re experiencing the brunt of the consequences of the person’s addiction, and you may notice that you’re experiencing depression, anxiety or a sense of hopelessness. Learning how to help someone with addiction is difficult, and there’s not a lot you can do.
Below we’ll highlight some of the limited ways you can start helping someone with addiction, and explore what you can do for yourself as well.
When you’re learning ways how to help a drug addict, sometimes it’s as important to know what you can’t do as what you can. Learning how to help someone with addiction means understanding that you can’t “fix” them. You can’t threaten them or even love them enough to make them stop using drugs or alcohol because addiction is a disease of the brain.
At the same time, that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and do nothing.
Some of the first steps of learning how to help someone with a drug addiction or alcoholism include setting boundaries and ensuring that you’re not an enabler. An enabler is someone who helps facilitate a person’s addiction in any way, even if it’s not the intention. For example, you may be lying to other people in order to cover the addict’s drug use. Something as simple as this means that you’re removing some of the consequences of the addict’s behavior, which is enabling them. You may also be enabling an addict by allowing them to continue living with you, or giving them money.
If you want to learn how to help someone with addiction, first and foremost make sure you’re not enabling them in any way. Also important when you’re helping an addict is setting firm boundaries. Addicts can be incredibly convincing and manipulative, and their number one priority is their addiction. You have to always keep this in mind as you’re looking for ways to help a drug addict, and you have to create boundaries with that manipulation and addiction behavior in mind.
Of course, learning how to help someone with drug addiction doesn’t mean that you’re cruel or that you stop loving the person. It just means that you understand the importance of maintaining boundaries.
While you can’t fix an addict on your own, one of the biggest things you can do to start helping an addict is encouraging them to get help. Before having an intervention, you may try to simply sit down and have a conversation with the person about how to get a drug addict help.
During this conversation, which is also the time you may be setting boundaries, you can discuss your own thoughts and concerns about their addiction. Important to learning how to help someone with an addiction or how to help someone on drugs is understanding that shaming them isn’t going to be effective. When an addict feels as if they’re being shamed or backed into a corner, they will often become defensive.
If a conversation doesn’t work in helping a drug addict, the next step is usually an intervention. People who are addicts are often in denial about their problem, and during an intervention, you can learn how to help an addict by first making them understand not just their addiction, but also the effects it has on the people around them. Sometimes this understanding is a good first step to helping a drug addict.
During an intervention, a group of loved ones and often a professional interventionist will come together and plan a meeting with the addict. It should be structured, and the ultimate objective is to encourage the addict to get professional treatment and make changes in their life. Rather than being an opportunity to shame the addict, an intervention should serve as a source of motivation.
So, how do you help someone with a drug addiction through organizing an intervention?
Before staging an intervention as part of how to help someone with an addiction, the group of loved ones should come together and formally plan what will happen. Consulting with a professional therapist, counselor or interventionist can help you understand how to organize an intervention so that it will be more effective. Professionals understand very specific ways how to help addicts, and how to increase the chances of an addict seeking treatment following one of these meetings.
During the planning phase of an intervention intended to help someone who is on drugs, the group will start gathering information from one another as to the extent of the person’s addiction, and the problems or consequences it’s creating.
Also important as you learn how to help people on drugs is the fact that an intervention should include specific consequences if the person doesn’t accept treatment.
During the actual intervention everyone will share from the notes or letters they prepared during the planning phase, and they will outline their specific consequences that they will enact if the person doesn’t accept treatment. If you stage an intervention, you should also recognize that loved ones will continue playing a vital role in the recovery process throughout treatment and in the time following it.
How to help someone addicted to drugs or alcohol is difficult, and it may result in frustration or heartache, but hopefully, the ultimate objective of getting the addict treatment can ultimately happen with an intervention.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.