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Expert Advice on How to Help Someone with Addiction

Posted on August 12, 2021

Knowing how to help someone with addiction doesn’t come easily. There’s no one path to recovery. But, you can find ways to begin a conversation about the harm caused by doing drugs or drinking.

Today, let’s discuss a helpful approach to the subject—along with some important things to avoid.

Talking to someone with an addiction can feel challenging. Learning how to help someone with a drug addiction can begin with the kind of research you’re doing right now.

Part of knowing what to say to someone is knowing how addiction affects a person’s brain and behavior. It’s also helpful to not set expectations of when a person will agree to accept help. One conversation will not be enough to motivate someone to start treatment, and they may refuse the offer of help.

If so, keep learning more about addiction and keeping the topic of treatment actively a part of your talks with the person in need of help and healing.

Dos and Don’ts on How to Talk to Someone with an Addiction

1. Do your research so you can become more informed about their type of addiction.
2. Do make it a two-way conversation by taking time to talk and listen.
3. Do share signs you have noticed drinking or drug use has been affecting them.
4. Do look for factors that may be worsening their substance use, such as mental health concerns.
5. Do present treatment resources that you have researched and believe are strong options.

1. Don’t attempt to be an expert in a conversation.
2. Don’t make the interaction an opportunity to criticize them for substance use.
3. Don’t assume someone’s addiction is like another person’s you also know.
4. Don’t give a “diagnosis” or make predictions on what will happen to them because of drinking or drug use.
5. Don’t give ultimatums or deadlines about starting treatment.

When to Reach Out for Professional Help

People who have been through addiction treatment can tell you about a time when they didn’t recognize their own need for it. It may have come long before they began even considering treatment. It’s likely someone else will see their need for drug or alcohol rehab first.

Reaching out for professional help can come at any time substance use has become a destructive force in a loved one’s life. It could be in a phase when they see drinking or drug use as a necessity. There may be more outward signs of it keeping them from taking care of personal responsibilities or affecting work or school.

Reaching out for professional help can be a multi-step process, too. You may talk to people at different facilities as you explore what resources are available in your area. Addiction does not heal itself over time and will require the help of a suitable treatment program as a starting point for recovery.

What to Do When Someone Refuses Help

Your solid research about treatment and consistent support won’t automatically compel someone to accept help. It’s not a reflection of you if someone isn’t ready to enter a treatment program. They may feel like they don’t need it. They may resist the idea for other reasons.

At these times, continue to do your research. Learn more about addiction. Talk to people who have been through treatment and continue to work on their recovery. Recognize new opportunities to present help again.

You’re not looking for a quick solution. Anything that involves healing from substance use will take time. Keep the offer of help always an active topic of conversation, even if it comes up only briefly at times.

What is rock bottom?

For some people with addiction, ongoing denial may end when they finally see how it’s been affecting them. It may take suffering many losses. This could include the loss of a job, loss of a spouse through divorce, loss of freedoms due to arrests, loss of good health because of damage to vital organs, loss of friendships, and more.

The “rock bottom” stage may look different to different people. Many people with addiction reach a place where virtually every aspect of their life has been harmed to some degree. As the addiction worsens, its impact also becomes visible to friends and family. For many, the “bottom” may feel as if it keeps getting lower and lower. We know that someone does not need to reach “rock bottom” to recover.

As someone begins to hit their personal “rock bottom”, whatever that may look like, the need for treatment becomes far more urgent. Knowing how to talk to someone with addiction can help them avoid this stage. Following the do’s and don’ts mentioned earlier is part of the help you can provide to someone with a drinking or drug problem right now.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration.

We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 844-843-8935.