Helping an Addict

Helping an Addict


This article will highlight ways of helping an addict. It can be difficult, painstaking and challenging to try to help an addict. A person who has an addiction may not be aware of the dangerous effect of their condition especially if left untreated, this is in contrast to someone with a physical illness who very well recognizes that they are ill. They should know that getting better is up to them. They must first of all be aware that they actually have an addictive problem. Next, they should be open to dealing with this problem before the recovery process can even start. You can provide support by setting smart and realistic goals but at the same time being aware of your health needs and protecting yourself.

Helping an addict
Photo Credit: PsychCentral


One way of helping an addict is by talking about his/her addiction. It is much less intimidating to have a face conversation alone with an addict rather than having a sort of group therapy.

Make out time where you can meet with them alone, devoid of distractions. Let them know that you are concerned about their well-being and behavior and ask if they would not mind hearing what you think. Do not blame them or get furious. They react better if you approach the matter calmly and in a compassionate manner. If there are any events where their sort of addiction have directly affected you then you should cite such examples.

If they want to hear about your feelings and thoughts, ask if they are open to seeking professional help. Some may not want to discuss this option and even become defensive. If that happens, let it slide for the time being. Do not threaten or embarrass them rather, begin speaking with concerned relatives and friends so as to plan towards an intervention. This is a very effective way of helping an addict.


By staging an intervention in extreme conditions, you will be helping an addict to save his life. If the patient is in a dangerous situation or doesn’t seem to be bothered about your concerns, it may be of great help to organize an intervention. Prior to this intervention, speak to a substance abuse counselor, a social worker or other health workers that you trust because you need their guidance and in addition, they may even want to take part in the intervention.

Set out a time when relatives, friends and other concerned people will meet together. Let the intervention last for a few hours. Those present at the intervention should have the liberty of time to express how they feel about the condition.

The setting should be in a quiet place where the addict feels safe, preferably in their own home to that of a close relative. Leave the doors open so they can leave if they decide not to go on with the intervention, do not also try to block their exits. The intervention is only effective if they willingly participate so it is of no use attempting to force them.

When they reach, do well to explain that everyone there gathered is concerned about their welfare. Call on members of the intervention to express how they feel and how the addict’s behavior has affected them but at the same time showing great concern towards the situation at hand. If they are not willing, don’t bother them. Thus, staging an intervention in extreme conditions is also an effective way of helping an addict.


Be involved in the recovery process if the person registers at a recovery program. Do not just direct them there and leave them to their fate. The key to effective recovery and helping an addict is continuous support shown by loved ones.

If they move into a treatment facility, pay them regular visits and buy them gifts. Take part in family days or other programs where you are free to attend. Give them your support in every glaring way and let them know that you are willing to go through the recovery process with them. You can show this by assisting in ways you can such as buying materials, books or other substances that will assist in their recovery. The support they get from loved ones during this period will greatly help them to get better. This also is an important way of helping an addict.


When helping an addict, try to create a balance. The “help” shouldn’t be “excessive.” In as much as you would want to give them a full measure of support, do not let it be excessive as too much of it can be choking and unhealthy for their recovery. Thus it is necessary to achieve a balance at all stages, either while they are in recovery or when they are still making use of the abusive substance.

If they do not agree to seek help or they even begin to use the addictive substance again, you may have to set boundaries for your relationship with them. Most addicts do not readily ask for help, they wait till they are really down before they are open to seeking help. You may have to cut off contact with them so as to take care of your own emotional health. You need to be in a complete state of health to even be able to help them thus, you can’t help them if you are not well yourself. In addition, the individual must want to change before recovery can happen.

Offer your support if they are in recovery, but do not try to take control of their recovery process. They have to learn to take responsibility for their actions as this is one part of the recovery process.

All through it all, do not abandon your own needs. It can be difficult to love a person who has an addiction problem. Constantly remind them that you care about them and actually prove this to them as this is the best thing you can do for them but do this while you have set necessary boundaries and protected yourself.

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