How can I help someone who is addicted to drugs?

To help someone who is addicted to drugs, first recognize that you can't fix the problem yourself. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers the following tips for helping a family member or friend who is struggling with chemical dependency:

  • If someone you care about has asked for help, he or she has taken an important first step. If that person is resistant to help, perhaps you can at least convince him or her to get an evaluation from a doctor.
  • You can always take steps to locate an appropriate physician or health professional, and leave the information with your friend or family member.
  • Emphasize to your friend or loved one that it takes a lot of courage to seek help for a drug problem because there is a lot of hard work ahead. But assure the person that you will be supportive in his or her courageous efforts.
  • The pressure of family and friends sometimes compels people to enter treatment. However, it's better that you focus on creating incentives to at least get the person to a doctor.
  • If your friend or loved one was previously treated and then relapsed, he or she has already learned many of the skills needed to recover from addiction and should try it again.
  • People being treated or recovering from chemical dependency relapse about as often as do people with other chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes. Treatment of any chronic disease involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, and relapse sometimes goes with the territory.
  • Encourage your loved one to participate in a self-help group during and after formal treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, as they are a source of ongoing communal support.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Dr. Harry L. Haroutunian, MD
Family Practitioner

If you suspect someone is using drugs, gently confront the person with others who care (not alone); ask them what's going on and clearly state there is help and support available. Watch addiction specialist Harry Haroutunian, MD, explain how to help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.