Six Things To Remember When Helping A Friend Through Addiction

Six Things To Remember When Helping A Friend Through Addiction

Mar 17, 2022, 9:57:17 AM Life and Styles

There’s a common notion regarding addicts and their relapsing tendencies. Several paths lead to addiction, but an addict often gives up on their addiction to start living their life again. However, the journey to sobriety certainly isn’t easy. Most addicts suffer several detrimental physical and mental symptoms when beginning to quit their addiction. An addict’s physical, mental, and emotional symptoms intensify as they move down the five stages of addiction recovery.

  • Stage 1 – Precontemplation: The addict isn’t ready to battle their addiction and continues to defend or justify their dependency on substance abuse.
  • Stage 2 - Contemplation: The addict opens their mind and heart to guidance and starts listening to people stating the benefits of a drug-free life.
  • Stage 3 - Preparation: The addict starts taking baby steps towards quitting drugs by attending counseling sessions, visiting a treatment center, and experimenting with one or two days without substance abuse.
  • Stage 4 - Action: The addict makes significant drug-related changes to their life and tries their best to commit to this change by not falling into relapse.
  • Stage 5 - Maintenance: The addict keeps up with drug-free lifestyle changes to truly break the addiction habit and maintain long-term sobriety.

Regardless of what type of symptom an addict is dealing with throughout the five stages of addiction recovery, they continually look for support or empathy in their loved ones. If you want to help someone fight their addiction, here are six things to remember.

1. Educate Yourself About Addiction and The Addict’s Case

Addiction can alter a person’s brain structure, making quitting extremely difficult. However, this alteration varies from person to person. Therefore, to support an addict in their journey, people must learn about the various factors that help develop the ideal addiction treatment plan, like signs and symptoms of addiction and levels of care needed at every step. There are two phases of educating yourself to help a loved one battle addiction:

  • Online - Surf the internet to read through the various addiction-related resources available on the web. Try to understand and save as much important information as possible. 
  • Offline - Visit professionals and doctors to understand the addiction case of your loved one individually to find an approach that fits their specific needs and requirements best.

2. Have Realistic Expectations from The Recovery Journey

Most addicts are dealing with shame (fear of being looked down upon), stigma (fear of society’s inability to understand), or denial (fear of the inability to accept a problem). Therefore, expecting someone to quit their addiction at the drop of a hat is insensitive and unrealistic. Dealing with substance abuse behavior takes a lot of time. It’s essential to support an addict instead of preaching or lecturing to them throughout this time. Here are some don’ts to keep in mind when helping a loved one battle their addiction:

  • Don’t hold an addict accountable for their actions.
  • Don’t expect an addict to keep every promise they make.
  • Don’t react to an addict with anger or violence.
  • Don’t pity an addict's situation or circumstances.

3. Show Compassion Towards the Addict

Similar to diabetes and cancer, addiction requires appropriate treatment. Understanding this is essential for an individual to develop compassion towards an addict. Recognizing addiction as a disease also helps individuals support a sufferer with love and care instead of anger and frustration. However, while helping an addict fight their potentially destructive habits, people must remember not to do anything to enable their behavior. An addict needs to experience the adverse consequences of their addiction to continue on the path to recovery. If loved ones help out an addict financially, physically, or in other ways, it hinders them from experiencing the adverse effects of addiction. Continued avoidance only prolongs an addict’s addiction as they don’t feel the need to act otherwise.

4. Seek Professional Help to Keep the Addict Focused on The Right Track

When dealing with a loved one’s addiction, it’s difficult not to factor emotion in your responses. According to several studies, people make 90% of their impulsive decisions based on emotions than rational thought and consideration. Therefore, individuals need to bring in professionals who are not emotionally connected to the addict to push their addiction recovery journey uphill. Here are several resources and professional help individuals can access to help their loved ones in battling addiction:

  • Addiction Treatment Centers
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Support Groups
  • Professional Therapists and Counselors
  • Medical Doctors

5. Respect an Addict’s Personal Space and Privacy

While most people believe that it’s essential for an addict to hit rock bottom before seeking ideal treatment, that may not always be the case. Early intervention is more effective in behavior change regarding addiction recovery. However, an individual mustn’t invade someone’s privacy or personal space in the process. No matter how tempted a person feels to break down an addict’s walls, they must do their best to sit around and wait for the addict to open the door. Any guidance or support provided will only be practical if an addict is willing to accept it. Someone who isn’t okay with discussing their addiction struggles will never welcome feedback or criticism, regardless of the intention. 

6. Don’t Forget To Take Care Of Yourself 

Focusing on your health and stability is essential when trying to help another person battle their fears. Individuals can never help an addict if they are not physically and mentally fit. Give yourself time to recover from caring for someone 24/7. A caretaker needs to get enough sleep, eat right and on time, socialize with friends and family, invest in personal hobbies and interests, and do other activities that help them feel happy and relaxed. Once you are full of energy and motivation, you will share the same with others.


Witnessing someone battle substance abuse can take a heavy toll on an individual’s wellbeing. However, people should try their best to battle their fears to support their loved ones in their journey to recovery. Sometimes, you may feel worn down, demotivated, neglected, or more in lending this support. But in all your struggles to help a friend or family member fight addiction, you must utilize the tips mentioned above to ground yourself and focus on the goal. Nobody said it’d be easy, and nobody said it wouldn’t take time, but with your efforts, somebody can definitely find stability and successfully bid their addiction farewell. Good luck in being their strength!

Published by Samantha Brown

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