How To Help A Loved One With Drug Addiction?

Updated on March 30, 2023

Substance abuse is a serious problem that we, as humans with our innate mechanisms, are not prepared for. Drugs are substances that bind to our natural receptors with much higher affinity than what we are used to. This binding to receptors causes different effects depending on the type of receptor they bind to. You can have pretty specific interactions, such as morphine binding to its mu receptors.

On the other hand, nicotine binds to all nicotine receptors that are spread throughout the entire nervous system. This causes a systemic reaction due to the abundance of these receptors. Our homeostasis is not used to this type of signaling and our psychological state acts differently to these stimuli. It is a very complicated topic that each of us experiences differently, but more often than not, this leads to addiction. With this short article, you can learn the basics of helping a loved one with a drug addiction.


Even though you always hear stories of how people quit drugs all on their own, those are the exception, not the rule. This is a very tough battle that is not won all alone, which is why drug rehab is usually the best option. You are not an expert on dealing with drug addictions and neither is the one struggling with drugs.

Every addiction story is unique in its own way, and thus there are a lot of variables no one can control. However, professionals know both the psychological and physiological effects of addiction and withdrawal. The reason why rehab is so powerful is due to their knowledge of how people usually act during withdrawal.

The correct approach

Nagging someone about rehab the whole day is not going to make someone go to rehab. However, being quiet and just hoping they will accept rehab is not going to help as well. The problem is that there is no one universal way of approaching someone with an addiction. The right approach depends heavily on the current situation and your unique circumstances.

One thing you should know right away is that you can’t go to rehab for them, you can only do so much. You should know that you are already doing what you can to help them in this situation and that your help is appreciated. You are the one who knows your loved one the best and under what circumstances can you make them listen. It is important to know these facts, know when you can talk to them, and consult a professional before approaching.

Talking to them

When you strike up a conversation on this topic, you should not be too direct, but also not indirect. If you are playing indirectly, they will probably see right through you and they will take it as an insult. On the other hand, if you approach them and tell them to just go to rehab, you will just make them not go to rehab.

The conversation should be more question oriented rather than imperative oriented. The question you should not ask is Why do you not go to rehab? At least, you should not ask that right away, but you can ask that later on. It is important to get to know their emotions, their state of thoughts, and their physical health by asking questions.

Right pace

You will probably not be able to convince them to go to rehab on your first try, and that is ok. Again, the important thing is to watch out for pace, not too fast, and not too slow. It is important to monitor their well-being and talk to them regularly, whether it is about their addiction or in general. Deep down, they have a reason why they are doing this and you need to find out this reason.

Once you know why they are taking drugs and abusing them, it is important to stay oriented around that problem. You will not be able to get this problem out of them right away, which again is totally ok. You should not force them to talk about that, and you should always show them that you care for them and that you are there for them.

During rehab

Rehab is not a magical place where addictions go away instantly, it takes time for rehab to start working. Once you get them to rehab, that will not be the end of this story. Rehab is a tough experience, especially at the start and it will take a toll on both you and them. You need to stay ready and do not give up on rehab and its improvement.

Withdrawal can cause serious psychological and physiological trauma which can be worse than addiction. However, it is important to know their current state is not forever, it will get better and better over time. Your role in this situation is to believe in them and continue supporting them, but you should also not worry too much about them.

After rehab

Once rehab is done, you will also have to face a new set of challenges when it comes to reintegration. The problem is that addictions are not something that is cured once and it is gone forever. Staying clean from drugs for good is an active process that requires tremendous strength from someone.

At the same time, people change and rehab is definitely an experience that will change your loved one. It may seem quite odd, but living a peaceful life after that is also challenging, but you should not give up on it.

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Drug addicts are used to being blamed for their addiction as if it were their own personal choice. No one becomes an addict because they like it nor do they do it out of their own free will. There are a lot of influencing factors and systemic factors that influence the genesis of drug addiction.

In these situations, blaming someone for their addiction is the single worst step one can do. Everyone who went through these struggles or knows someone with these struggles understands the complexity of each case. In these situations, and generally in life, the one thing we should never forget is our humanity and the love we have for the people we hold dear.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.