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Drug Abuse: 5 Tips for Helping a Loved One in Need

Drug abuse doesn’t just affect the individual abusing the drug. It also has a profound effect on the friends and loved ones around them. If you’re close to someone who’s abusing drugs, then you owe it the individual, their friends, and yourself to do something sooner rather than later. Here are a few helpful tips for guiding them through this troubling time.


1. Look Out for Signs

Before you can ever help a loved one, you need a firsthand understanding of the signs and symptoms of drug abuse. This will help you understand the severity of the problem and which steps to take. Symptoms obviously differ from drug to drug, but common ones include:

  • Social and relational disengagement that previously didn’t exist.
  • Prolonged use of a drug that was prescribed by a doctor for a condition that’s since gone away.
  • Abnormal irritability and sensitivity – coupled with physical signs of itching and redness.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and favorite activities.
  • Sudden mood swings and changes in behavior.
  • Changing sleeping patterns.

These are just a handful of the signs to be on the lookout for – but make sure you’re paying attention to both mental and physical changes in behavior.

2. Be Sensitive

If you decide to have a conversation with your loved one about their apparent drug abuse, you must remember to remain sensitive. Taking an accusatory stance will not solve the problem. In fact, it could make it worse. Instead, be kind and caring. Ask if there is a problem and let your loved one know that you’re there to listen.

3. Seek Medical Help

While you definitely want to be sensitive to your loved one, there also comes a point in time where you have to act. If things look to be getting serious, then it’s wise to seek medical help.

For someone who is currently under the influence of drugs, detox may be the first step. Many rehab programs won’t even accept a patient unless they’ve been to an accredited detox center. However, if there’s an emergency situation, simply call 911 and let appropriate responders deal with the situation.

4. Involve Others

When it comes to confronting a loved one about potential drug abuse, there is power in numbers. The more people you can involve, the more likely it is that the addict will listen.

Start by confronting the individual yourself. If this doesn’t work, gather a very small group of two or three other individuals and try again. Finally, if this doesn’t work, you may consider a full-on intervention. Do note that interventions must be very strategically planned and carried out, though. Don’t hold an intervention without seeking professional help.

5. Provide Encouragement

The final tip is to provide encouragement every step of the way. Defeating drug addiction and abuse is a long journey. You can’t expect to have a conversation with your loved one and then expect everything to magically heal overnight. Drug abuse comes with recovery, relapses, issues, and hurdles.

The best thing you can do is provide a source of encouragement. Let them know that you care for them and help them navigate both the good times and the rough patches. This sense of stability is often the only thing an addict can hold on to.

Don’t Sit Back and Watch

While the easy thing may be to sit back and do nothing, the loving and caring thing is to take action. It may be uncomfortable and painful, but you have to stop being selfish and start thinking about the well-being, health, and safety of your loved one. Think about these tips and do your best to help those around you.