10 Tips for Supporting Your Addicted Family and Friends

Having a friend or family member who is addicted to drugs can be a challenging time, especially when you don’t know what the best way to help them is. Here’s how…

So, you’re a friend or relative of a drug or alcohol addict, and need some guidance? The truth is, if your addicted loved one has been involved in dealing drugs, taking drugs, or has been charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs, there’s a lot to unpack. This can be especially tricky if they’re addicted to the drugs.

There are multiple ways you can help your drug addicted family member or friend get clean. That said, they all require you to give it your all; you have to be there for them 24/7 and know how to act at each turn.

In this post, we’re going to share our top 10 tips for supporting your addicted family members and friends. Hopefully, it’ll help them get clean and live a happier life.

How to Help Addicted Family Members and Friends Get Back on Their Feet

Supporting your addicted family members and friends is very challenging, especially if you’re doing it alone. That said, if you’re willing to give it your all you can help them break the cycle of addiction. Here are our top 10 tips on how to do that:

1. Educate yourself about addiction

If you plan on keeping track of when your addicted family member or friend is on or off the horse, you need to know what the common signs of addiction are. Not knowing what addiction looks like, and accidentally allowing your loved one to slip, could be your downfall.

It’s okay not to know everything right away and learn as you go. Giving yourself the time to understand their disease before you head down this road will give you a head start. 

2. Prepare yourself for a difficult time

We’ve mentioned this a few times already, but this road is not easy. Some of the main reasons it’s difficult are:

  • They might not agree that they have a problem
  • They might not want to change their behaviour
  • They might be too embarrassed to discuss it with you
  • They might fear the consequences of admitting their addiction (losing their job for example)
  • They might not want to share their addiction with a professional
  • They might have an underlying issue that causes their addiction that’s painful to address

You need to be prepared for these possibilities, and at each step make sure you are doing your best to counterbalance any embarrassment, fear and issues your addicted family member or friend is having.

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3. Host an intervention

Staging an intervention is one of the most effective ways to help a drug addicted family member or friend out of their denial. Having everyone they know get together and explain how the addiction is affecting them, in a loving, caring way that’s free from judgement, will hopefully open their eyes. 

4. Establish trust with them

It’s likely that, if you’ve been dealing with an addicted family member for a long time, they’ve betrayed your trust at least once before. You need to regain trust with them by allowing them to prove to you that they want to change.

However, trust goes both ways, and you need to prove to them that you’re not trying to force them or control them. To prove that you trust them to do the right thing, try not to nag, criticise or attack them for their behaviour.

5. Don’t enable them

When you’re helping a drug addicted family member, you don’t have to do everything for them. They might fall off the wagon or make poor choices, but you may need to let them feel the consequences of their actions rather than always rescuing or excusing.

Many people are unable to change until they are seriously challenged, so supporting them financially will only enable their addiction. They need to see exactly how their behaviour is affecting them and the people around them.

6. Seek help for yourself

Going down this difficult road with a loved one can take its toll on you, and you’re no good to them if you’re stressed out and unable to cope. Develop your own stress management strategies, participate in support groups for people going through a similar experience to you, and seek professional help if you feel you need it.

7. Be honest with them

Have an open and honest discussion with your addicted family member or friend about how their actions make you feel. Tell them how the addiction is harming your relationship and that you don’t know how to help them if they don’t help themselves.

Again, this is a two-way street, which means you have to give your loved one the chance to explain what you’re doing that isn’t helping them. In this case, you need to be willing to change, so they’re more likely to try themselves.

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8. Join forces with other family members and friends

Don’t feel like your loved one is your responsibility alone, and there’s no-one else out there who can help you. Even if you’re the only member of the family who could cope with all this work, you could still do most of it and just get some additional help from them.

It might even be that your family members or friends don’t trust the addicted person anymore and have severed ties with them. Helping them mend these ties will help relieve some of the pressure off you. It’ll also help your addicted love one re-attach themselves to the world. 

9. Just hang out with them

Try not to make every little thing about their addiction. You can be on watch to make sure your addicted family member or friend doesn’t relapse, but you don’t have to treat them like a sick person all the time. 

Go out and do something fun that you both enjoy and help them forget about the drugs for once. 

10. Replace the drugs

Often, people who are addicted to drugs are looking to fill a void, forget something from the past, and feel a rush of excitement that they can’t get organically. If you can get your drug addicted family member or friend into something exciting and new that takes up a lot of their time, it becomes something else to focus on. Spiritual or faith experiences and connection with a local church community or similar can really transform lives. If it is impossible to do whilst on drugs, you could be one step closer to getting them clean. 

Will it be Easy?

In this post we’ve shared our top 10 tips on helping an addicted family member or friend get clean. Hopefully you’ve learnt something from this post and are ready to help your loved one get their life back on track. The road will be long and hard, but it will be worth it.


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