Identifying the best course of action to help a loved one who is using drugs can be challenging.
First, you must determine if your loved one is using drugs and truly has a problem with their use. Once you identify the need for help, provide nonjudgment, encouragement, and support to get them help via their doctor or other addiction treatment services.
Recognizing which stage of addiction recovery your loved one is in will guide your course of action so that you can help them in the most beneficial way possible. Avoid many of the pitfalls of confronting someone with a drug addiction, such as blaming them or taking things personally.
Ultimately, your loved one is responsible for their own drug use and recovery, but your loving care and support can help them to begin their path to sobriety sooner.
Identifying someone who is using drugs can be trickier than you think. You might have a friend or loved one who uses drugs openly, such as at parties or with friends, in which case their drug use is easy to identify. Often, however, people using drugs do so in secrecy and try to hide their drug-using behavior.
When trying to identify drug use, questions to ask yourself, as outlined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), include:
Answering “yes” to any or all of the above questions likely indicates the presence of a drug problem.
Drug abuse and addiction can happen to anyone, as it does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. If you think your loved one is struggling with a drug problem, there are things you can do to help.
Helping someone with a drug use problem can be very difficult, especially if they are uninterested in getting help. Fortunately, many resources are available that may convince your loved one that now is the time to get the help they need.
A general checkup at the doctor is a great first step toward addiction treatment. General practitioners can assess the user’s current condition and make appropriate referrals for further treatment.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are more than 3,500 physicians in the U.S. who specialize in addiction treatment. These doctors can be located via the following resources:
It is important to be supportive, encouraging your loved one to seek treatment in a loving and nonjudgmental way. Fear of judgment from colleagues, friends, and family members can inhibit some people from seeking the help they need.
It’s a lifelong endeavor to manage addiction. With your help and support, your loved one may be able to start on their journey to recovery.
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Once you have determined that your loved one has a problem with drug use, it can feel challenging and overwhelming to know what to do next. There are many different factors at play when someone is using drugs, such as the length of their drug use and what support systems they have available to help them get sober.
An important piece of criteria to consider when encouraging a loved one to seek addiction treatment is which stage of addiction recovery they are currently in. The four main stages of recovery include:
Each stage of change presents its own set of challenges, but recognizing which stage your loved one is in can help you provide appropriate support. Your supportive role in their recovery is likely to change as they progress through each stage as well.
There are many things you can do to help someone who is using drugs. It is equally important to avoid doing certain things when trying to help your loved who is addicted to drugs. It can be difficult to separate yourself from your loved one’s battle with addiction, but it is important to do so.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with drug use, you likely want to help them right away. It is important to be patient, as it can take time for people to recognize how their actions are impacting themselves and those around them. Continue to support your loved one on their recovery journey, even if they aren’t ready to enter formal treatment yet.
Remain a consistent, nonjudgmental, loving, and caring support in your loved one’s life until they are ready to get help for themselves. It can be frustrating to watch a loved one hurt themselves and not get the help you would like them to, but it is ultimately up to them to enter treatment.
(May 2019) How to Help and Addicted Friend or Relative. Verywell Mind. Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-help-addicts-22238
(January 2019) How to Help Someone with a Drug Problem. Health Direct. Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/how-to-help-someone-with-a-drug-problem
(April 2019) The Stages of Chance Model of Overcoming Addiction. Verywell Mind. Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stages-of-change-model-of-overcoming-addiction-21961
(January 2016) What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved May 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-adult-friend-or-loved-one-has-problem-drugs
Tyler, M. (0922, July 01). Approaching and Helping an Addict. Healthline. from https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/helping-an-addict