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Helping a loved one with a drug addiction

Home » Blog » Helping a loved one with a drug addiction

Do you know someone who has a problem with drugs? Unfortunately, you can’t force someone to quit using drugs, whether illegal or prescribed medication. But there are ways to help them recover.

Family and friends are affected by drug addiction and abuse

Watching someone you love struggle with a substance abuse disorder can be very distressing. It doesn’t matter if the drug abuser is your spouse, parent, child, or close friend. Their addiction can easily take control of your life. You can feel guilt, shame, anger, fear, frustration, stress, and anxiety.

Drug abuse and addiction can impact people from all walks of life. There is help. Although you cannot force someone to overcome their addiction, you can help them by showing love, support, and patience.

These guidelines will help support your loved ones’ efforts and set boundaries that protect your health and welfare. This will allow you to find stability for yourself and your loved ones.

Understanding the substance abuse of a loved one

There are many reasons why people turn to drugs. First, people use drugs to manage the emotional pain caused by mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. This is self-medicating. Some people know they have a mental illness but cannot find better ways to cope, while others stay undiagnosed and take medication to treat specific symptoms.

Others use drugs to improve their mood, fit in, or alleviate boredom and dissatisfaction. Some use drugs to get around a medical condition.

No matter why your loved one uses drugs, not all addicts will develop problems. Although the causes of addiction may not be apparent, genetics, mental health disorders, and environmental factors likely play a part.

Recognizing behavioral signs of drug abuse in a loved one

It can be challenging to identify a loved one who is using drugs. Teens can sometimes display normal teenage moodiness when they abuse drugs.

There is no way to tell if someone’s drug use is increasing or decreasing in frequency. It doesn’t matter if your loved one uses drugs every day or every other month. What matters is the negative impact that their drug abuse has had on their lives.

These are signs and symptoms that your loved one might have a substance use disorder:

Problems at home, work, and school. For example, they may appear more confident and take more time off from school or work to make up the difference. They could lose their job, drop out from school, or even separate from a long-term relationship partner.

  • Changes in your sleep schedule can lead to new health problems such as fatigue, rundown appearances, weight gain or loss, blurred vision, forgetfulness, or other cognitive issues. Depending on which drug they are using, they may also experience frequent sniffing, nosebleeds, or shaking.
  • Changes in their mood or behavior. You may notice a difference in your loved one’s behavior. They might be more secretive about their activities, where they are going, and how much they use. You may find them quick to get angry or lash out if you attempt to talk about their drug use.

Heavy drug users tend to lose interest in their hobbies and feel depressed.

  • Recurring financial problems. To support drug use, your loved one might have to take out credit cards, request loans or borrow money. They might even steal cash or other valuables to buy drugs.

You should be on the lookout for drug paraphernalia

It is possible to detect a loved one’s substance abuse by drug paraphernalia’s increased or new presence.

  • People use paper wraps, small pieces of cling film, and tiny plastic bags to store drugs.
  • Many people smoke drugs using rolling papers, pipes, bongs, pierced bottles, or cans.
  • Burnt foil, spoons, or syringes may indicate heroin use.
  • Prescription drug abusers may renew their prescriptions more often or have medications for another person.

How to talk about drug abuse with someone

It’s not easy to have a conversation about drug addiction with someone. However, try to approach the topic with compassion and understanding. It is not the intention of anyone to become addicted. 

Many people abuse drugs as a way to deal with mental or emotional problems. Addiction is often fueled by stress. Therefore, criticizing, demeaning, or shaming your loved one will only make them feel worse and encourage them to use drugs.

If someone you love uses drugs, it can cause shock, fear, or anger. Communicating with someone using drugs can be difficult because of these strong emotions. Finding a time when you are calm, sober, and free from distractions is crucial. Don’t be judgmental, but offer your support and help.

Please don’t delay. It doesn’t matter if your loved one hits rock bottom. On the contrary, the sooner an addiction is treated, the better.

Be honest about your concerns. Be sincere and show respect. Give specific examples of drug-related behavior in your loved one that has made you worry. Be open about your feelings.

Listen. Listen. Even if you disagree with someone, listen. Your loved one will feel heard more often if they see you as someone they can trust and support.

Give them information on how to address their drug problem. This could include calling a helpline or talking to a counselor, attending a group meeting like SMART Recovery or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or joining a treatment program.

Be prepared for denial. When confronted with their drug use, many people feel shame and try to deny that they have it. Please do not argue with them. Just revisit the matter another time.

Do not try to intimidate, threaten, bribe, or punish anyone. Anger or emotional appeals can only increase the user’s guilt and strengthen their compulsion to use.

Do not expect one conversation to solve the problem. This conversation will be just one of many you will need to have about your loved one’s drug use. I

It is not possible to overcome addiction overnight. Sometimes it takes several conversations before they admit that they have a problem. This is the first step in the journey to recovery.

Supporting your loved one in their addiction recovery

It’s impossible to overcome drug addiction with a one-size fits all solution. And it is rarely easy.

You can support your loved ones and encourage treatment, but you cannot force them to make changes or take control of their decisions. Instead, your loved one must accept responsibility for their actions and choices. This will help them on the road to sobriety.

Be realistic about your expectations. Everybody is different. Even if your loved ones find stability, being too rigid with your expectations can cause disappointment and a feeling of failure.

Encourage your loved ones to seek professional help. Some people can quit using drugs alone, but others can get help. You can offer to be there for your loved one as they dial a helpline, accompany them to counseling sessions, doctor’s appointments, or a peer support group meeting.

Make sure they address co-occurring problems. Once they are sober, the same issues that led to your loved one’s drug abuse will remain. In addition, they will need to look for better ways to cope with their mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, if they have turned to drugs to self-treat. They must address their addiction and mental health issues simultaneously to achieve long-term recovery.

Plan for cravings and triggers. You will need to help your loved one deal with drug cravings and triggers. While you can distract them by engaging in other activities or encouraging them to learn to control their urges, ultimately, they will have to take responsibility for their sobriety.

Please encourage them to try new things. Your loved one may find that they have more time after quitting drugs. Encourage your loved one to discover new interests that do not involve drugs, but add meaning to their lives.

This will help to avoid them falling back into old patterns. Volunteering, taking up a hobby or sport, or even spending time outdoors hiking or camping. This is all without the need to use drugs.

Accept the possibility of relapse. Relapse is a possibility, regardless of your best intentions and the efforts of your loved one. Encourage the loved one to get clean again and support them in their efforts to do so.

Be patient. Every relapse offers the chance for your loved one to learn from their mistakes and find a way forward.

Get help with Hathaway Recovery

Hathaway Recovery is a luxury rehab in California focusing on all aspects of drug use and addiction treatment. Our treatment is unique and offers the best possible care. Our luxury rehab in California provides the most comprehensive addiction treatment.

Our recovery treatment center offers private rooms, a personal approach, and the finest specialists. Our mission is to Renew, Rebuild, and Heal Lives.

If you have questions or need help with someone in need, please call our Admissions Department at (909)971-3333.

It is entirely confidential.


  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family Drug Education
  • Relapse Prevention Therapy
  • Counseling for Grieving


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  • Hathaway Recovery is a very solid, very friendly place. My boyfriend decided to go here and has spent a significant amount of time at the recovery house. They are very good at bringing clients to meetings and on fun outings occasionally! Hathaway is committed to their clients’ recovery and their sobriety and to helping them in any way possible. They go above and beyond for the clients and I definitely would recommend considering Hathaway for your sobriety/recovery.

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    Hathaway Recovery is an exclusive addiction rehab treatment center in California offering healing recovery from all substances. We’re proud to provide a great combination for drug, alcohol, psychiatric and psychological recovery treatment backed by experts in the addiction treatment field. Our drug and alcohol rehab is built on the cornerstone of care and compassion and accommodates clients and their families from all backgrounds to educate, inform, and create change around substance use disorder. In a secluded mountain hill luxury resort, our facility offers a therapeutic environment and array of clinical modalities to help individuals and their families. Our staff are also multilingual to address the needs of clients from anywhere in the world.

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