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How To Help Someone with Drug Addiction: 6 Step Comprehensive Guide

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When someone you care about is struggling with addiction, it can bring out a wide range of emotions. Not only are you worried and want to do whatever you can to help, but you’ll also experience anger, frustration, disappointment, and sadness. It’s no secret that addiction doesn’t just affect the addict. Everyone who shares an emotional bond with him or her is going to struggle as their life continues to spiral out of control.

And while there is no one perfect answer to the question of how to help someone with an addiction, getting into a quality rehab program is a must for any chance at long-term success. It’s only in a controlled environment under the care of experienced medical personnel that someone addicted to drugs and/or alcohol can make the progress they need.

Of course, knowing they need to get into rehab and getting them to agree are two different things. How to get someone into rehab against their will can be a long and arduous process, but one that is worth the effort if you are successful.

Common Addiction Risk Factors

It seems as though just about anyone can end up addicted to drugs or alcohol. After all, no one chooses to become an addict, and people from all walks of life can have issues with drugs or alcohol. And while your own behavior plays a monumental role in developing addictions, some risk factors can increase the likelihood. Some of the most common to watch for include:

  • A family history of addiction
  • Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD
  • Traumatic experiences such as abuse or neglect
  • Drug use at an early age

Can You Force Someone Into Rehab?

Are you at a point where you feel like you need to force a loved one into treatment? If you want to learn how to help someone with drug addiction, you will first need to be able to recognize the signs that something isn’t right. Many physical and behavioral signs may indicate drug use, and knowing them will give you a head start when it comes to providing the help they need. Be sure to watch for things like:

  • Regular mood swings
  • Sudden, unexplained changes in behavior
  • Apathy toward family members or activities they used to enjoy
  • Problems at school or work
  • Low energy levels
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased interest in personal hygiene
  • Sudden requests for money
  • Red eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Memory problems
  • Stealing money or shoplifting
  • Lashing out when asked about substance abuse
  • Appearing to be intoxicated more often

If you notice all or even some of these signs in someone close to you and you feel that they would benefit from drug or alcohol rehab, take the following steps:

Step 1 – Get Educated

Knowing which signs to look for is great, but if you really want to know how to help an addict who doesn’t want help, you need to know as much as possible about the topic of addiction. Addiction is a complex disease in the brain, and while you don’t need to be an expert to offer your help, the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with the ups and downs that permeate the lives of most addicts.

Step 2 – Be a Strong Source of Support

Strength and consistency are what addicts need around them if they are to conquer their addictions and return to a healthy lifestyle. How to help someone with addiction feel like they are supported is to show you care on a regular basis. Quite often, people addicted to drugs or alcohol are living in isolation inside their own minds, and they don’t consider how deeply their family and friends care for them.

Don’t wait until they have hit rock bottom to speak about your concerns. Let them know how much you care and that you will be there for support throughout the process, no matter how long it takes. And once you make the declaration, it is crucial that you follow through, so they can feel that love and support and know there is something positive in their life they can count on.

Step 3 – Set Boundaries

Support is one thing when it comes to how to help an addict, but your support can’t come without boundaries. It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease and in the midst of that disease, people will behave erratically. That could mean stealing, lying, cheating, violent outbursts, or behavior that puts those around them at risk. And since there is nothing to gain by taking a step forward and two back, you must set detailed boundaries and then stick to them while you are offering your help.

No two addictions are precisely the same, and no two addicts will act the same, so you must observe and then set appropriate boundaries for the situation. This step can be one of the most challenging, as you will want to give in or will feel sorry for them, but remember that allowing them to carry on negative behaviors and take advantage of your kindness isn’t going to help in the long run. You can help, but the fight belongs to them.

Step 4 – Encourage Them to Seek Help

There is a big difference between badgering or hounding and encouragement to get someone into rehab against their will. It’s true that the earlier they seek treatment, the higher the likelihood of success, but preaching, lecturing, or threatening will only drive them away. It’s common to meet resistance when you bring up the topic of rehab, but trying to guilt or shame a person into doing what you want isn’t going to be effective. It’s also not a good idea to enable their drug or alcohol use or become overly emotional while you are trying to encourage them to seek professional help.

If you can’t seem to make any headway on your own or with immediate friends and family, consider having a proper intervention. These are often difficult to get through, but an intervention specialist knows how to navigate the process and get the best possible results. An intervention specialist is also well versed in hearing the typical excuses that addicts give for not wanting to seek treatment and will have effective tactics to encourage them to do the right thing.  

Step 5 – Maintain Your Support During Treatment & Recovery

If you are able to figure out how to help an addict who doesn’t want help and they enter a rehab facility, it’s essential to keep the support coming. Even though quality rehab centers have highly qualified staff members, your loved one still needs the support of family and friends to make it through successfully. Remain involved in the solution as much as possible and continue to support their treatment until it is complete.

Once they have completed the treatment portion, your support will be more critical than ever during the recovery process. Make sure to keep in close contact, encourage them to attend support meetings and aftercare programs, and watch for any signs of relapse. Try to be that ray of optimism they need while staying firm with your boundaries and holding them accountable for their own actions.

Step 6 – Take Care of Yourself

If you are to be any help at all to a loved one with drug or alcohol addiction, you must take care of yourself first. You will be of absolutely no use to anyone if you end up getting sick or getting in an accident due to stress or fatigue. Then, the focus will move from the addicted person to you, and it may even make their condition worse. Just like you are supposed to place the oxygen mask over your own face first before your kid’s face on an airplane, take care of yourself to be the best you can for your loved one struggling with addiction.

So, you need to get regular sleep, take the time to keep your body in shape and eat healthy foods when possible. If you find that the stress is taking a toll on your mental and emotional health, then don’t be afraid to seek a therapist to help get you through it. How to help someone with drug addiction and get positive results means that you need to be strong physically and mentally.

If you ever encounter signs of an overdose or a similar emergency, then call 911 immediately. Saving a life is more important than someone being angry with you or a potentially embarrassing situation. If you want a high-quality rehab center to recommend to your loved one, consider Transitions Recovery Program.

We are nationally accredited and have been licensed by the state of Florida since 1985. We offer individualized treatment and job placement once the program has been completed. If you’d like to speak with one of our qualified staff members, call toll-free at 1-800-298-1783 or contact us online today.