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The Road to Recovery – How to Help Someone Struggling with Addiction?

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Addiction is an ugly and awful disease that holds captive millions of people internationally. Our first instinct reaction is to try and help someone that we love with this problem, but we don’t always know how.

If you’re wondering how to help a person in your life who is struggling with addiction, here are a few tips. 

Talk when they’re sober

The best time to talk to anyone who’s suffering from an addiction is to have the conversation when they’re sober. This is the time when they will be the most clear headed and receptive of conversation. It might seem like there’s very little time that they’re sober where you can talk, but try and do your best to enable this scenario. Meet up with them in the morning when they’re least likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Tell them how you feel

It’s easy for people to get on their haunches and feel like they’re being overly criticized when you’re talking about their addiction. One way to disarm this reaction during the conversation is to discuss how their problem makes you feel. Tell them specific incidents you’ve noticed and the impact it’s had on you. The worst thing you can do is attempt to make them feel guilty though, as this will likely increase the likelihood of them wanting to use a substance in the future.

Help them find a suitable program

Recovering from addiction is a daunting task, and not one that a couple of people should attempt to do on their lonesome. Look at counselling in the area, and if there are any support groups. Alcoholics Anonymous is a great example of a gathering of people for mutual support. Sometimes you won’t have the ability to understand exactly where your friend/family member is coming from, and they might need the perspective of those who have been in their shoes before.

Completely detoxing from an addictive substance can be done on their own, or with professional help. Depending on the severity of the situation you may choose either, while keeping safety in mind. The professionals of suggest holistic care that sees an individual as a whole as a good method of detoxing. Finding a program that suits the needs of the person and makes them feel comfortable is the only way they’ll overcome this tribulation.

Be understanding

When someone has said or done things under the influence, it feels really easy to point fingers and start blaming them for their behaviour. This is not going to be conducive to a healthy conversation. Understand that addiction is a disease first and foremost, and that this disease has your family member or friend captive. The sooner you start seeing this as a problem that you need to tackle together, the more efficacious an intervention can be.


Educate yourself

If you don’t have any experience related to substance abuse, you need to educate yourself on the topic as much as possible. Find out why your family member might feel like they need this substance, and how it alters their behaviour. By understanding and educating yourself, you’ll gain an increased ability to empathize.

Don’t set unrealistic standards in your relationship

It might seem like you’re helping the situation by setting ultimatums, forcing the person to choose “the booze” or me. But this will create a divide between both of you. They will likely see you as an enemy who’s trying to prevent them from living their lives. Don’t set any unrealistic expectations on their sobriety either. Sometimes people mess up during the recovery process and that’s okay, they’ll likely need your support and guidance more than ever during these periods.

Don’t worry too much

Your personal health is just as important as anyone else’s, and don’t forget this during the assistance process. As much as you might want to help someone struggling with addiction and recovery, you won’t be able to if you aren’t looking after your personal health as well. Make sure you’re taking some time to yourself, and talk to someone you’re close with about the issues. You might even discuss the situation with a counselor. There are programs for those whose parents are alcoholics to meet and discuss their past with each other.

Try to empathize with the person that you’re trying to help as much as possible. Let them know that you’re there for them and you’re trying to help them, not “fix” or control them. As long as you’re coming from a place of empathy and understanding you might be able to circumvent a negative response. Don’t be discouraged if it initially doesn’t work out the way you planned, as long as you’re showing them love and respect, you’re doing all that you can.

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