A Guide on Helping Someone with a Drug Addiction

Posted September 10, 2021 by in Health + Fitness

Does someone close to you struggle with substance abuse? Watching your loved one suffer through substance abuse disorder is devastating. Often, the user is in denial of the issue. Or they are unwilling to change their lives. Sometimes patients even lash out at loved ones for helping them.

The ordeal not only takes a toll on the health of the user, but it is also emotionally taxing for their loved ones. Addiction may even take over your life by adding stress, testing your patience, and hemorrhaging money. It is a roller coaster of emotions. Usually, friends and family experience feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear, and sadness.

However, it is not easy to encourage someone with an addiction. There are some reasons why helping a user is challenging. But, it is vital to follow some dos and don’ts when talking to someone with an addiction. Following are some things to keep in mind.


  • Build trust with the patient, so they listen to you.
  • Have an honest conversation with the user and tell them how their addiction is affecting your life.
  • Remember to respect the privacy of the user and support them through a challenging time.


  • Give ultimatums or threaten the patient. The behavior will make them hide things.
  • Never criticize the patient because criticism may discourage them from pursuing treatment.
  • Expect a quick change in the behavior of the patient. Recovery takes time and patience.

Treatment Options for Users

There are two treatment options for users. Patients have the option to sign up for outpatient or inpatient treatment centers. Users with severe addiction may opt for an inpatient rehab center. On the other hand, patients with a manageable condition should consider an outpatient facility to manage their lives.

Inpatient Treatment Centers

Patients live in the facility while undergoing treatment in rehab centers or communities. Furthermore, the programs are a minimum of 28 days long. Most inpatient treatment plans are for severe addictions because patients can get 24-hour medical support. Plus, there are no distractions that can affect treatment. However, inpatient rehab is expensive and disrupts daily life. So, patients have to talk to their employers and plan to take some days off. Every inpatient treatment center has its policy about contacting family members.

Outpatient Treatment Centers

Users in outpatient treatment centers live in a less restrictive environment. Furthermore, patients live at home, and they spend 12 hours weekly visiting a rehab center. The weekly sessions help users overcome addiction through counseling and substance abuse education. Outpatient treatment is favorable for people with a mild addiction as a long-term treatment plan. The treatment is safe, quick, and effective. Plus, it is more affordable, and users can maintain a routine.

What to Expect

Signing up for a treatment program will begin with an intake interview. The medical professionals will use this conversation to create a custom treatment plan. The next step is to detox substances, which may take two weeks. Patients experience withdrawal symptoms during this stage. Then patients need therapy for a long-term treatment plan.

Remember that the span of treatment depends on several factors. The severity of addiction, duration of substance abuse, and mental health conditions may affect the treatment plan. Rehab programs usually last 30 or 90 days. However, the Institute on Drug Abuse recommends spending a minimum of 3 months in treatment.

Some Challenges to Help Patients with Addiction

Patients are not always willing to seek addiction therapy. They may overreact to treatment and become violent.

  • Patients may not accept they have an issue.
  • Usually, patients are in denial. They are unwilling to change.
  • They may fear consequences such as losing their livelihood.
  • Patients will feel awkward about things. They may become embarrassed to discuss their problems with others.
  • Sometimes users have co-occurring disorders. Patients may use addiction to avoid dealing with mental health issues.

What Should You Do to Help Someone Struggling with Addiction?

The road to recovery is long and lonely. Therefore, friends and family must provide mental and emotional support. An honest conversation can help you share your experiences. It can help the patient put things in perspective. But, the user may blame you for their situation. Addicts learn manipulation techniques to feed their habits. So, they try to blame others or their circumstances for their conduct. You can try encouraging a detox treatment in Austin, but addicts need to be ready to get treatment. If an addict is forced into a detox treatment, they will likely just jump back into their old habits the moment they leave a program. Them being emotionally ready for treatment is what will give them the highest chance of being successful.

Now, your loved one may decide to pursue treatment without your involvement. Keep in mind that the objective is to help the user overcome addiction. Therefore, you have to support them no matter what. Respect the privacy of your loved ones and refrain from informing others about their issues. Keep patient instead of expecting things to change overnight.

Keep in Mind That You Also Need Help

Living with someone struggling with substance abuse is stressful. Sometimes users turn violent and abusive. So, you might also need to consult a mental health expert to come to terms with the situation. There are support groups for families of drug addicts. These groups help people address issues and concerns about living with an alcoholic.

There are many challenges when someone you know struggles with addiction. It can also be a lonely journey. Usually, patients who do not get the support they need are more likely to relapse. So, you must provide complete support to your loved one. Fortunately, there are several tips you can follow to support your loved one.

*Photos by Rachel Claire