If you think that a friend or family member is suffering from a drug addiction, then it is natural that you will want to help them as much as you can. However, knowing how to go about it is far more difficult than you might think, as those in the grasp of addiction often don’t want to admit that they have a problem or get help for it.

The most important thing that you need to ascertain before you can help your loved one is to be sure that they really are suffering from an addiction in the first place.


How Can You Tell If A Loved One Is Addicted To Drugs?

There are many different ways to tell if someone you love is suffering from an addiction, and these clues come under three basic categories – those being physical, behavioural and environmental.


Physical Clues

Sudden weight loss or gain

Red eyes, pupils that are much smaller or larger than usual, or an unfocused stare

Frequent nosebleeds, sniffing or a permanently runny nose

Shakes and tremors

Slurred speech


Behavioural Clues

Sudden mood swings or a shift in personality

Neglecting their responsibilities, including work, family and home

Loss of interest or passion in things they previously enjoyed

Lack of personal grooming

Changing their social circle dramatically


Environmental Clues

Syringes and needles

Small resealable baggies

Pipes, plastic bottles or cans which have been pierced and used to smoke drugs

Burnt foil

Things in the home going missing, particularly valuables


How Can You Help?


Do Your Research

The best way for you to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction is to find out everything you can about addiction, their drug of choice and what treatment options are available to them.

This will allow you to approach them from a place of knowledge and offer practical advice and support as well as emotional help. There are plenty of websites and articles online dedicated to addiction of all types, helping you to find out everything you need to know before going in, and local support groups often provide friends and family sessions where you can go to ask questions and get practical advice.


Don’t Enable Them

This can be extremely difficult for the families of people with addictions – watching someone that they love struggle with the pain of an addiction. Enabling could mean obvious things like helping them to buy drugs or taking them out on drinking binges, but it could be far more subtle than that.

If you pay their rent to stop them becoming homeless, this would count as enabling. If you make excuses to their boss when they are recovering from a binge so that they don’t lose their job, this is also enabling. You may also want to advise them on the laws as many do not know the laws surrounding substance abuse in the workplace or if you can be fired for having an addiction.

You have to make a decision not to support them in any way when it comes to issues brought up by their addiction.


Understand That They May Not Agree With You

Whilst some addicts are very aware that they have a problem and will be prepared to accept this if you bring it to them, others are not prepared to accept this yet, and will be much harder to convince.

The last thing you want to do is get into an argument with them about their addiction, causing them to draw away from you, so the best thing you can do is talk in a friendly way about the issues surrounding abusing drugs.


Keep Your Expectations Low

No matter how much someone loves you, addiction is an illness, and an all-consuming one at that. Don’t expect that one chat with them will have them heading straight to rehab and denouncing their addiction right away, because this simply isn’t realistic.

You shouldn’t expect an addict to always keep their promises, just as you can’t always expect them to tell you the truth. Just aim for an open conversation to begin with and go from there.


Let Them Know You Are There For Them

The best thing that you can offer a loved one who is struggling with addiction is your time and love. Let them know that you understand what they are going through and will not judge them or cut them out if they slip up.

This will help them to trust you and keep you in their circle of trust throughout their rehabilitation – something which both you and they will need for the journey ahead. Appeal to their emotions but try not to bully or emotionally blackmail them.


Seek Professional Help

You are never going to be able to convince a loved one to get clean and stay clean on your own. Your friend or family member needs professional support and a rehabilitation centre to help them through the physical and emotional toll that breaking an addiction will have on them.

Ocean Recovery Centre offers residential addiction treatment which allows addicts to get round-the-clock care in a comfortable and safe environment. Your loved one will be able to go through various therapies and wellbeing treatments which help them to detox and settle into their life without drugs, even when they leave.


Take Care Of Yourself

Whilst your loved one is, of course, your main priority when looking into drug treatment, you must also accept that you need to take care of yourself and your own feelings during this process. This is just as hard on you as it is your loved one, and you will need support to help you to stay strong throughout the process.

Ocean Recovery Centre provides friends and family therapy, as well as advice over the phone and in person that can help you through this process and ensure that you know how well you are doing.

You might also look into group therapies with your addicted family member so that you can all learn to heal and move forward together. Local groups can often be found in towns and cities, and there are online forums and groups that can support you as well.

Call 01253 847 553, or text HELP to 83222 to find out more. The team at Ocean Recovery Centre is here to help.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 14, 2021

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.