Hurting or Helping? | The Best Ways to Help Drug Addicts

If you’re wondering what to do and how to help someone with an addiction, you’re not alone. Life surrounding addiction can become a confusing mess, to the point where you may ask yourself, “Am I helping or hurting?”

Here are a 7 ways to help drug addicts, both big and small.

1. Put your own oxygen mask on first.

Maybe you’re not a frequent flyer, but have you ever actually listened to the pre-flight safety talk? The flight attendant always says put on your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others. Today this translates to the trendy term “self-care”, which is trendy for good reason. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re useless to others, or even worse an impediment.

Practically, this looks like: taking walks, getting outside, taking time to do things you enjoy despite the whirlwind of having a loved one that is struggling. Lots of deep breathing.

ways to help drug addicts

2. Set boundaries.

Once you have your own oxygen taken care of, it’s important to set boundaries with your loved one and stick to them. This may seem like another self-focused way to help drug addicts in their struggle, but it’s just as helpful to your loved one as it is to you. Boundaries help people struggling with addiction to having something consistent. This is especially important during a time in their life when rules and standards are constantly being bent by the disease of addiction and invasive mentality caused by having the sole focus of using.

Boundaries can look different for each person; what’s important is to determine how much and how far, then stick to your guns.

Practically, this looks like: setting a boundary around how to respond to being asked for money, determining whether or not you’re willing to have your loved one live with you while they’re using and other decisions around safety (both physical and emotional).

3. Say “No.”

With your boundaries set in place, don’t be afraid to say “No.” if they’re being pushed.

Stay strong and stand up to manipulation.

Allowing yourself to be manipulated is actually enabling your loved one and his or her addiction. Again, stay strong and know you’re not alone.

Do you follow us on Facebook? Often we post pieces of encouragement and the community engages – Follow us on Facebook to stay connected and encouraged. 

4. Do not shame relapse or give up hope.

The overwhelming majority of students who join the John Volken Academy program have gone through multiple treatments before landing with us. Relapse happens and it’s part of the journey. Read more about why relapse happens here.

Practically, this looks like: Unconditional love moves through the disappointment of relapse (but keep the former pieces of boundaries and self-care in balance!), do not allow your view or ability to care for your loved one to be influenced by the disappointment of relapse, and seek encouragement from others when you experience a loved one relapsing in order to maintain hope.

ways to help drug addicts

5. Attend Al-Anon Meetings.

Get the support you need by attending Al-Anon meetings. These support groups are specifically for loved ones of people struggling with addiction and alcoholism. You can learn and find encouragement from people who have been in similar circumstances. Again, if you’re supported, you’ll better support your loved one struggling with addiction.

Find an Al-Anon meeting near you.

6. Share a way out. Share stories.

Addiction is blinding. One way to help a loved one realize there are options, is to share stories of others turning their lives around. Hope can be a powerful drug itself.

Practically, this looks like: Share hopeful facebook posts with them, share stories of hope from our blog.

7. Know that it’s not up to you.

You cannot make someone ready to get clean. It’s different for every person; some people will hit rock bottom some people will not. Everyone’s journey is different, and every addict will be ready for recovery at a different time.

People all find individual reasons to come to recovery. You can be supportive, but you can not make that choice for them; they must make that choice themselves.

Practically, this looks like: You’re not in control. That may not feel practical, but it’s true.

Watching someone you love struggle with addiction is tough. Period.

Have you shared the option of John Volken Academy with your loved one who is struggling? Nothing is better than some old fashioned human connection.


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