Addictions are among the most common psychological and psychiatric disorders. Therefore, it is possible that in your environment someone you know has gone through this type of problem.

Now… how do you help someone with a drug addiction? Each case requires solutions adapted to the context in which it is lived, but in general there are a series of guidelines that help a lot to leave drug addiction behind.

What do you do to help a person with a drug addiction?

Here are some helpful tips for supporting someone who has developed a dependency on one or more addictive substances.

1. Make him see the problem

Making that person see that he or she has a problem is imperative to start him or her on the road to overcoming drug addiction. However, it should not be done with a hostile attitude, or it will only serve to remove that person from our lives .

A good way to do this is to help him see the positive aspects of a drug-free life, and to show him that it is possible to leave the addiction behind.

2. Do not interrupt your consumption

You should not act like a policeman by imposing material limitations on that person’s access to drugs (e.g. by throwing away the addictive substance without their permission). It is a way to create a strong rejection of the idea of giving in to this blackmail and stop using to please someone who does not respect your decisions.

3. Recommend that you study your drug use patterns

A good way to begin to leave addiction behind is to look at the feelings and situations that anticipate the uncontrollable desire to use.

Therefore, to help someone with a drug addiction, it is a good idea to encourage them to better understand how their body works . In this way he will understand to what extent he does not control this type of behaviour, but that there are mechanisms that act outside his will.

4. Encourage him to go to therapy

Going to psychological therapy is very important to reinforce that person’s commitment to the recovery process, in addition to providing him or her with information and tools and strategies to manage the discomfort that abstinence will produce.

On the other hand, care from physicians is also important to help you keep the physiological and neurological aspects of addiction under control, and to avoid certain dangerous health situations (for example, in people with a strong addiction to certain substances, stopping consumption dry and without medical guidance can be very risky).

5. Help you create short-term goals

To help someone with a drug addiction you also have to make it easy for them not to see this process as a long term goal, but as something that brings benefits in the short and medium term. In this way, you will have greater motivation.

For example, create together a program of challenges to be carried out on a daily basis (the simplest) and weekly (others more complicated) basis and whose overcoming can make you feel good: not passing in front of a certain cocktail bar, carrying out relaxation exercises when the anxiety of abstinence becomes higher, etc. If possible, do it in a coordinated way with the plans of the psychotherapist in charge.

6. Take an interest in their progress

Asking him how his rehabilitation process is going helps him to commit to therapy, as long as it is not done in an overly insistent manner or by conducting real interrogations. You just have to be interested in the subject in a way that the other person speaks more than we do, giving them the opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of it all.

Thus, we’ll be creating an extra incentive for him to keep progressing : if he falls, he’ll have to tell us so or lie to someone who pays close attention to his progress. Neither experience is pleasant, and you will have more reason to keep improving.

Of course, what you don’t have to do is assume that your drug past is a taboo subject and that you won’t want to talk about it because it embarrasses you; this would only contribute to your return to drugs, since you will believe that it wouldn’t have too many effects beyond your own life, without considering that it is a subject that concerns your loved ones and friends.

7. Help you not to become socially isolated

Loneliness is one of the direct routes to relapse in those who already have a past of drug use. Therefore, a large part of the detoxification and rehabilitation process involves the support of those people who relate to the patient on a daily basis.

Carrying out activities together, giving him the possibility of participating in projects in which his contributions are valued, making it easy for him to express himself and share his hopes and concerns in contexts where there is trust is crucial, and it is something that must be maintained indefinitely, also after the psychotherapy phase for detoxification has ended.

Thus, to help someone who has gone through withdrawal but who is still vulnerable to the desire to use drugs , one must seek help from others and, together, create environments in which that person can enjoy an active social life (and, of course, in which addictive substances are practically non-existent or, in the case of alcohol, remain very much in the background).

You can also provide support so that through you she can have new friends who are away from drugs. In this way, the association between “substance use” and “free time” and “fun” will gradually be weakened, while the chances of her finding sources of motivation that have nothing to do with drug addiction will increase.

Looking for help?

If you are interested in having expert psychologists in the treatment of drug addiction, visit us at Instituto de Psicología Psicode . Our team of psychotherapists has many years of experience helping to overcome this kind of disorder, both in the initial stages and in later rehabilitation. To see our contact details, click here.

Bibliographic references:

  • Nestler EJ (October 2008). Transcriptional mechanisms of addiction: Role of ΔFosB. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 363 (1507): pp. 3245 – 3255.
  • Kalivas PW, Volkow ND (August 2005). The neural basis of addiction: a pathology of motivation and choice. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 162 (8): 1403–13.
  • Torres, G., Horowitz J.M. (1999). Drugs of abuse and brain gene expression. Psychosom Med. 61 (5): 630 – 650.