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How to Help an Addict

By Jenny Hunt, Palm Partners Recovery Center

March 15, 2012

It can be very difficult to know how to help someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. There is a fine line between helping an addict and enabling an addict to continue using or drinking. To help an addict, you must first understand the disease of addiction.

Loved ones wanting to help an addict often wonder why the addict cannot stop using even after suffering extreme consequences as a result of their drug addiction. They think that if the addict truly loved them, they would stop using drugs. If you want to help an addict, you must understand that the drug has become the most important thing in their lives and it takes priority over everything else. No matter how much you love a drug addict, you cannot ‘fix’ them or get them to quit without outside help.

In many cases, those that want to help an addict are actually enabling the addict to continue using. Drug addicts are often very manipulative and will do anything to obtain a drink or a drug. Friends and family will give drug addict money or a place to live when they lose their jobs or homes. They will bail a drug addict out of jail. They will think that this is the way to help an addict, even though it ends up hurting them.

To truly help an addict, most need to seek help themselves. Al-anon is a fellowship of people who have a family member or loved one who is a drug addict or alcoholic. Attending al-anon meetings can help you understand how not to enable a drug addict. Also, al-anon will teach you how to cope and seek happiness in your own life, even if the drug addict or alcoholic continues using or drinking.

Besides learning how not to enable a drug addict, one of the best ways to help an addict is to communicate that you are concerned about them and offer them outside help. Before you have this conversation, do some research on drug and alcohol treatment centers. This way, if your loved one decides that he or she needs help, you will be able to get them into treatment quickly. It is so important to help an addict quickly and efficiently as soon as they decide they need help. Many addicts or alcoholics change their mind or become too scared to go to treatment when they have to long to think about it. Out of those that change their mind, some end up dying from this disease.

When you have this conversation with your addicted loved one, remember to let them know how much you care about them. The best way to help an addict is to approach them with love and concern, not to criticize them for mistakes they have made in their addiction. This may also be a good time to let them know  which of the their activities that you will no longer tolerate, finance, or participate in if he or she does not agree to check into a rehabilitation center for treatment. Regardless of the addict’s decision, it is important that you discontinue these enabling behaviors. Often, knowing that their loved ones will no longer enable them is the factor that pushes a drug addict towards treatment.

If you or someone you know wants to help an addict, call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at

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