How to Help Someone with Drug Addiction

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If you know someone suffering from drug addiction, getting the help they need is paramount to their health and happiness. According to the NSDUH, in 2017, roughly 19.7 million Americans suffered from a substance abuse disorder, with about 74% related to alcohol.

Moreover, roughly 38% suffered from illegal drug use disorders, with one in eight suffering from illicit drug and alcohol use disorders.

In 2019, 22 out of every 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US, with over 70% of those deaths attributed to opioids. In 2019, the US saw a staggering 71,000 drug overdose deaths. These figures paint a bleak picture of what both alcohol and illicit drugs have done.

To prevent your loved ones from becoming one of these statistics, getting them the help they need as soon as possible is essential. So let’s talk about how to help someone with drug addiction.

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Recognizing Someone with a Drug Addiction

The first step is to determine whether or not a person has a drug addiction in the first place. The following are telltale signs that a person is suffering from drug addiction.

Behavioral Changes

Drug abuse is usually characterized by behavioral changes. Drug abusers often seem sad, depressed, moody, stressed out, and anxious. They often lose interest in old hobbies and interests. They will often lie about what they are doing and where they have been.

Drug addicts will often become withdrawn, angry, or even lash out when drug addiction is mentioned, especially concerning themselves. Many will also begin to neglect basic personal hygiene.

Health Issues

Drugs are very unhealthy and can lead to various health issues. Both weight loss and weight gain can be signs of drug addiction.

They may also have various cognition issues such as memory loss, a lack of coordination, etc.

The physical signs depend on the drug being used. Nosebleeds, bloodshot eyes, shaking, and frequent sniffing are signs.

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Personal Issues

Drugs will take over every aspect of a person’s life, so a drug addict will often have various school, work, and home life problems. Maintaining good grades, steady employment, or a healthy relationship with drug addiction is not easy.

Financial Issues

For many people, a leading sign of drug addiction is financial hardship. Drugs are not cheap, leading to borrowing money from others, high credit card debt, and even theft to pay for their drug supply.

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Options for Helping Someone with a Drug Addiction

Now that you can recognize the signs of drug addiction, you want to help them. Many options can help people overcome addiction, but everyone is different, so what works for one may not work for another. The following are some options to help someone with drug addiction.


CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy can be used in addiction therapy. This helps people understand their own feelings and behaviors concerning their addiction. In addition, it may help them understand where their addiction comes from, what fuels it, and what mental and behavioral changes need to be made to work their way out of addiction.  


CRAFT or Community Reinforcement and Family Training has replaced the traditional intervention as a preferred means to confront someone with drug addiction. This approach is designed to provide people with the help they require, such as convincing them to seek therapy, such as the CBT discussed above.

Online Therapies

An online solution may be best for people who are not ready to talk to others about their addiction, especially in a professional setting. At this time, a trusted online therapy program is Online Therapy. It’s worth checking out.


For severe addictions, FDA-approved medications can treat drug and alcohol addictions. Some medicines can be highly effective on this front.

Group Therapies and Support Groups

Support groups such as various twelve-step programs are generally quite effective in helping people overcome their addictions. However, the approach taken by these support groups differs from one group to another, so finding a group with the right approach for the addict is essential to success. Groups include Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, etc. Each group tailors its program to the addicted substance.

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Expect Difficulties When Attempting to Help Someone with Drug Addiction

You will likely experience difficulties and resistance if an addiction is severe. Here are some things you can expect when going through this process.

  • Addicts often feel embarrassed about their addictions and may not want to talk about it. If this is the case, an impersonal and online treatment approach, such as Online Therapy, might be best.
  • Denial is one of the most common forms of resistance. The CRAFT approach talked about above is a way to get past this.
  • Even those who recognize they have a problem might not be willing to take the steps needed to overcome it. Many also fear the consequences of admitting that they have an addiction.

Tips to Help Someone with a Drug Addiction – The Do’s and Don’ts

We want to discuss some of the dos and don’ts of helping someone with a drug addiction.

The Dos

  • Always be honest with the person, especially how you feel about their addiction and how it affects your life.
  • Always be supportive while respecting their own privacy and individualism. Simply put, you cannot force someone to get help. Often, being too forceful can lead to greater resistance.
  • Building trust with the person is one of the most important things. A person with an addiction needs to trust the people attempting to help them.
  • Keep an open mind when you are discussing the addiction with the person. Many addicts feel that they are driven to addiction by the actions of others, and they may blame a loved one or close friend.

The Don’ts

  • Never criticize, yell, or shame an addict. Lowering their self-esteem even further is not going to help them quit.
  • Never expect immediate change. Setbacks and relapses are a part of this process. You are looking for dedication and action, but immediate results are rare.
  • Threatening an addict and giving them ultimatums often leads to greater resistance.
  • Never make a person you are trying to help feel like they are being controlled because this may also lead to greater resistance.
  • Don’t give up on the person if there is a setback. Studies show that up to 85% relapse within the first year of receiving drug or alcohol addiction treatment. This is a long journey, a marathon, not a sprint. Once again, results are usually never immediate.

Helping Someone with a Drug Addiction – The Bottom Line

The information above can help a person overcome addiction. However, perhaps the most important thing is patience. Addiction treatment is a lengthy and challenging process that requires patience and dedication from everyone involved.


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