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Supporting a Loved One Battling Addiction

Addiction is a disease, and it should be treated as such rather than a choice. If a close friend or loved one you know is battling an addiction, it’s important that you provide them with the support they need, since they could be really struggling.

There are lots of things that you can do to show your loved one that you’re there for them, as well as things to avoid so you don’t offend or upset them.


The most important step to start with for overcoming any issue is a deep understanding of it. If you know someone trying to conquer an addiction, you owe it to them to research what they’re going through.

There are lots of different reasons why someone may become addicted, and it’s important to remember that it’s less about how often your loved one is taking whatever substance they’ve become addicted to— drugs or alcohol —than it is about their reasons for taking it.

If your loved one’s use of a substance is creating problems in their life, whether professionally or personally, then it’s likely becoming an issue.

Not everyone becomes addicted to drugs when they use them, but there are several risk factors that can contribute to a higher probability of addiction. This includes, but isn’t limited to– family history of addiction and struggling with trauma or mental health.

An image of the profile of a bearded man standing in the dark, holding a lighter in his hand to light the cigarette he's holding in his mouth.
There are a lot of potential reasons and causes for someone to be suffering from an addiction, but no matter what those reasons are, your loved one needs you to help them beat this.

You should look into symptoms of drug abuse if your loved one hasn’t outright admitted they are struggling with addiction but you think they may be, even though it’s also important to remember not to assume anything.

Some common signs of drug abuse are mood swings, withdrawal from friends and family, lack of motivation even for things that interested them, and changes in their behavior and sleeping schedule.

After all of this, you should begin researching potential treatments. It’ll be good to know this information in advance for whenever they’re ready for it, and in looking through the options available for your loved one you can think about which ones would be best for them.

However, your loved one’s understanding of the situation is even more important than your own, and the first step to getting help is always admitting there is a problem in the first place. If they have yet to do this, they may not respond well to you trying to help them.

What Not to Do

If your loved one hasn’t come to terms with the fact that they have a problem, it’s very important to approach the issue of addiction carefully, though having a conversation with them about it is probably best sooner rather than later. 

Still, carefully consider what you’ll be saying to them, and even think about speaking with a professional before communicating with your loved one to be sure you don’t take any big missteps.

An image of two people holding hands across a table. A cup of coffee sits beside their clasped hands, and a plant is on the edge of the frame.
Making sure to support your loved ones is always important, but especially if someone you care about is struggling with an addiction.

You’ll want to remain calm, be honest with them, and make sure that they know your intention is to help and be there for them. Avoid lecturing, talking down to them, and saying anything that might make your loved one feel guilty. You shouldn’t feel guilty, either— this isn’t your fault.

Still, you owe it to your loved one to not ignore the problem or, worse, enable it by providing them money for drugs. Taking over some responsibilities in order to help them out is one thing, but don’t provide for them financially or excuse their behavior by convincing yourself it isn’t that bad. 

Addiction is a serious illness, and you won’t be helping your loved one by denying that they need to be helped in the first place.

You should also be aware that trying to force them to quit is a bad idea. It’s important that the decision to quit be their choice, and you want to avoid arguing with their loved one during this difficult time for them when possible. Understanding and support will be a lot better for the both of you than tough love.

Stability and Support

Your loved one is going to need a lot of support to overcome their addiction, as well as both emotional and physical stability. This also applies to the road to recovery.

It’s essential that they feel connected to their closest friends and family rather than withdrawn, as a healthy support system is essential. Make sure you’re making an effort to spend time with them, and be sure to persist with contacting them even if they may seem to want to put distance between you, if only to just let them know you’re there.

People recovering from addiction will put their relationships first, working to improve them with people they may have become less close to. They’ll also often take accountability for past actions. So, this is an incredible sign in someone who is or has been struggling with addiction.

It’s important that you consider their physical stability as well, though. Some people dealing with addiction forget to sleep or eat, so you should make sure that your loved one is taking good care of themself. Another good sign of recovery is if your loved one is keeping a consistent routine.

In addition to offering your own personal encouragement, you should also encourage your loved one to get help and see a professional. There are plenty of options available to them, and at the end of the day, it’ll be what’s best for them if they want to beat their addiction.

An image of two people in chairs sitting across from each other, with a clock balanced on the window between them. The woman is taking notes and listening as the man talks and gestures.
As much as you want to help your loved one, the best way for them to get the help they need in order to overcome an addiction is to see a professional.

Don’t forget about yourself while helping your loved one— you can only do so much. It’s absolutely vital that you check in with yourself periodically, as overcoming an addiction can be a long, difficult process. They’re going to need a lot of your ongoing support, so be sure that you’re looking after yourself, too. 

Set boundaries and take time for self-care when it becomes necessary, because it is definitely necessary. This will be difficult for you, too.

But in the end, of course it will all be worth it to see your loved one overcome their addiction, and it will mean a lot to them to have you at their side.