How to Help a Drug Addict
When you love someone who is addicted to drugs, you probably want very much to help them but may not know how. It can be hard to understand why the addict promises to stop using drugs yet keeps on doing just that. The longer you live with active addiction, the more likely you have tried just about everything from begging and nagging to heated arguments and threats.
The one lesson that is very important for you to learn is that you can’t make someone who isn’t ready get help. Helping a drug addict starts with taking the time to get to know as much as you can about addiction, putting effort and energy into taking care of yourself and learning not to do anything that actually makes the behavior worse.
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The Nature of Addiction
When a person crosses the line into addiction, they become compelled to use a substance at any cost. Their need to get high or to escape from reality becomes the driving force in their lives. They are compelled to keep using drugs in spite of negative consequences such as loss of important relationships, loss of a job, overwhelming financial problems and even health problems.
Substance use can cause changes in the brain that make it extremely difficult to quit addictive behavior. The addict becomes unable to resist the urge to turn to substances. When they tell you they want to quit and intend to quit, they mean it. The problem is if they are physically and psychologically addicted to a substance, they are not likely to be able to quit without help.
What Not to Do
Families and friends of loved ones can actually fan the flames of addiction with their behavior, which is why changing your own behavior may be the first thing you need to do to truly help the person with the addiction. Here are some things you may be doing that could be enabling the addict to stay addicted:
- Giving them money whenever they ask
- Covering their expenses such as rent, gas, etc.
- Taking over their responsibilities
- Making excuses for them when they behave irresponsibly, such as calling in sick to work for them
- Bailing them out of jail
- Ignoring the problem and pretending everything is all right
Breaking the Cycle of Addiction
Those who love an addict did not cause the problem, cannot control it and can’t cure it. What you can do is take care of yourself and learn to behave in healthier ways, so that your patterns of relating to the addict don’t continue to enable him or her to stay actively addicted.
Get help for yourself by attending meetings of Al-Anon or by getting counseling from an addiction specialist. Staying sane in the midst of turbulence requires support and guidance from those who truly understand what you are going through.
You can’t force the addict to go into recovery. The decision to get help has to come from the addict. You can set ultimatums, but only if you are prepared to follow through with what you say.
If the Addict is Ready to Get Help
If the addict makes the decision to go into addiction treatment, you will probably feel extremely relieved. As they begin to learn a new way of life, try to be supportive and listen to what they want to share, without trying to pry information out of them. Participate in family support groups.
Remember that for many addicts, recovery takes time. There may be relapses on the road to recovery, and if that happens it doesn’t mean things are hopeless. Continue to learn what you can about addiction and be ready to recognize the signs of relapse. Whatever happens, continue to take care of yourself and keep hope alive that the addict will recover. Recovery from drug addiction is possible.
If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction and looking for a drug rehab in Los Angeles, please call us at or submit the form below. A recovery specialist will answer any questions you have about our treatment programs.