Dealing With Addiction: Are You Helping or Hurting?

Guest Blogger: Jenna

imageLiving with someone addicted to alcohol, drugs or suffering from another addiction can be difficult. Even just remaining their friend is hard, but there are ways to help them seek help for their addiction. Here are a few ways you can help someone dealing with an addiction.

Understanding the Addiction

Before you can do anything else, it’s important to understand the addiction they are struggling with. Each person and addiction is different and there are different ways to describe addiction, in general. The disease model is one of the more accurate descriptions and can help you understand how addiction works.

Establish Boundaries and Limits

Setting boundaries can be difficult, but it’s an important part of helping someone addicted to alcohol, drugs or anything else. An example of setting a boundary is communicating that you don’t want to be around the person if they are drunk or high. This will be difficult because you might hurt their feelings, but it’s necessary if you really want to help the person.


Informal intervention can be very powerful and this is a way of confronting the person. Just mentioning a website, phone number, or other resource as a way to get more information about the help available could be the difference. You may not think it will help, but sometimes informally talking to the person about seeking help is what sparks them to look into the different options.

Do Rehabilitation Programs Actually Work?

The statistics don’t lie. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 24 million US residents suffer from drug addiction, but only 10% receive help from a professional facility. Addiction kills over 20,000 people in the United States every year and the rates of people admitting to addiction have skyrocketed by 500% over the past 20 years.

Over 40% of those seeking treatment successfully complete the program they choose. However, about half of those completing their program will relapse, but if an individual doesn’t enter into a treatment program, they are more likely to continue using. Less than 1% of addicts using self-treatment options successfully kick the habit.

When someone you know is addicted to drugs, alcohol or anything else, you can help them. Make sure, when they are ready, you help them find the right treatment for their needs and don’t forget about the aftercare program. Those entering into an aftercare program are more likely to stay sober because of the support it provides when they transition back into everyday life.

Do you have a friend or family member who deals with an addiction issue? Comment below on your experiences.


  1. Robert says

    I have worked in treatment both residential and outpatient and found that finding the right program is the most important. Whether its a 12 steps based rehab or an alternative treatment program, you need to find the right facility. Every addiction is different and people are the same.

  2. says

    My father died of alcoholism 21 years ago and I can honestly tell you that from my experience, telling the person that you don’t want to be around them when they’re drinking isn’t very effective. Often times isolation is what they want. My father wanted it so badly that he actually nailed a drywall paneled wall in our living room so we couldn’t watch him drink instead of joining us for family mealtimes. They like drinking alone so nobody can reason with them, and when you do reason with them, it further fuels their reason to drink.

  3. says

    Addiction is a very, very difficult subject. I have had multiple family members battle with the disease- one who has lost to suicide while the other (his brother who lived with him at the time) lives in recovery now for close to 20 years). I have also worked as a psychiatric nurse in a detox unit for five years. Addiction is a chronic, holistic, and difficult disease. It not only affects the physical and mental body, but the spiritual self, the relationships with others, the career health, etc. It is definitely a struggle that attacks all parts of the human life. One thing that is, to me, a difficult double-edged sword is what I hear and witness over and over again: “The teacher will appear when the student is ready”. You cannot force a person into recovery, into sobriety, into getting any type of help. But on the other hand- how long do you wait? We waited too long I guess since my uncle is now deceased- but at the same time- he was not ready to change. It is as it is with most life experiences- we have to be ready, willing, and concious to the fact that we want to change. We have to want it. If we do not want it- we will not get it. We can do anything we put our minds to, anything. But the fact of the matter is if we are conflicted in any way- we will not stick with it. Thanks for a great post, helpful for me to reflect on my experiences…. I hope I have helped another.


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