How can I help a drug addict quit?
This is such a common question, yet it’s also a complex, difficult one. Ultimately you can’t control whether or not a drug addict stops using, but there are some things you can do both for them and to help yourself cope.
When you have a loved one who’s struggling with drugs it can take an immense emotional toll on you. Drug addiction doesn’t just impact the addict, it impacts everyone around that person, and as you’re wondering how to help someone quit drugs, you may find that you’re neglecting your own needs.
Some of the common feelings loved ones of addicts experience include anger, resentment, worry, fear, anxiety, helplessness, and depression. You want to be able to help your loved one, but it’s very easy for that to become enabling them. There’s also the sense that if you set boundaries and exhibit tough love, you’re somehow not empathetic or sympathetic to the addict.
Loved ones of addicts are often the victims of the manipulation that’s bred by addiction. Addicts have one focus in their lives, and that’s using drugs. They may have once been a sensitive, loving person, but as addiction takes hold this comes to an end and they’re self-absorbed and entirely driven by their desire to continue using. The disease of addiction is a difficult and complicated one, and it ultimately changes the brain of the addict, which is why they act out in certain ways and become so focused on their addiction.
While addiction is a disease, it is up to the individual to seek treatment. Addiction can be viewed as a chronic disease, and with treatment it is manageable, and the addict can live a fulfilling life, but you have to know first and foremost that you can’t force someone into treatment, nor can you do the work of recovery for them.
Before you take any other steps when it comes to how to help someone quit drugs, you want to make sure that you educate yourself. Addiction is a disease that festers and grows when there are denial and ignorance, so when you have a full understanding of the disease, you’re better equipped to deal with the symptoms your loved one is experiencing. By understanding addiction, it can also help you see that the addicted individual isn’t attacking you personally for any reason other than the fact that they’re unwell.
Having this sort of knowledge is empowering, and it can help you take the personal hurt and pain out of the equation and move toward taking steps that will help the person get on a path of recovery.
What a lot of people don’t understand when it comes to how to help someone quit drugs is also that by enabling them, they’re doing the addict absolutely no favors. Along with learning about the components of addiction, it’s important to learn what enabling is, and eliminate those actions from your life.
An addict is going to be more motivated to receive help if they’ve hit rock bottom, which means they’ve felt the full weight of the consequences of their actions and drug use. If you’re enabling them, you’re taking away or lessening some of these consequences, and you’re then making it less likely they’ll seek help.
Other tips for how you can help someone who is on drugs include:
- Express how their addiction is impacting you but don’t be judgmental
- Show compassion and empathy without enabling them
- Set personal boundaries of behaviors and actions you won’t tolerate, and stick to them
- Be consistent in your words and your actions. For example, don’t one day tell your loved one you won’t be around them when they’re high, and the next day allow them to use in your home. Consistency is key if you truly want to help someone who is on drugs.
A lot of drug addicts live in a state of denial. They don’t believe they have a problem, or even if they recognize a problem exists, they don’t think it’s harming or hurting the people around them. If you’re looking for answers to “how can I help a drug addict quit,” one of the best things you can do is organize an intervention.
Contact someone who is a professional with interventions and addiction treatment and bring together a group of loved ones. During an intervention, you will each prepare notes or a letter explaining how the addict’s behavior and drug use affects you. You are very specific, without being judgmental or aggressive. Then, everyone participating in the intervention outlines consequences they will enact if the addict refuses treatment.
Essentially, preventing yourself from being an enabler, learning about addiction and preparing an intervention are the primary ways you can help someone quit drugs. Whether or not they accept treatment is up to them, and you can’t fix or cure them, no matter how much you confront them about their drug use or how much you love them, just as you couldn’t cure a person with diabetes in these ways, or anyone with a chronic disease.
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.