Help A Family Member With Drug Addiction

If you are reading this, the chances are that you have someone close to you, perhaps a family member, partner or a friend who is struggling with a drug addiction.


Getting a loved one to seek help for an addiction is often a very challenging and draining process. What is clearly evident to you and to others, they simply cannot or will not see and admit the truth.

We hope that this post will provide some insight into your loved ones thinking and how to best approach the subject of drug rehab and addiction treatment with them.

Signs And Symptoms Of Drug Abuse

Part of the problem when it comes to confronting a family member or loved one around using drugs is the uncertainty if they actually are. You may have suspicions, but is that enough to challenge them and get them to seek help? Probably not.

How to help a family member with drug addiction

Unless a drug addict is faced with the cold hard facts about themselves, they are likely to just deny that there is a problem. There can be one of two reasons for this:

  1. Addiction causes deluded thinking, they may genuinely think they are in control.
  2. If they admit that they have a problem then they are admitting that they need help; they may not have reached the point yet where they are willing to stop.

It is useful to look for signs and symptoms of drug abuse and present these to them as genuine reasons for concern.

Physical signs of drug abuse:

  • The pupils of their eyes are abnormally large or extremely small
  • Dramatic changes in weight and appetite
  • Sleeping too much or sleeping too little and at odd times
  • They struggle to concentrate and hold a conversation
  • Their speech is unusually slurred, excited and fast, or delayed and slow
  • They are neglecting their physical appearance and hygiene

Behavioural symptoms of drug abuse:

  • A marked change in their personality and they are acting out of character
  • They seem lethargic or full of energy (depending on the drug they may swap between the two)
  • Depression and loss of interest in family and old friends
  • Ritualistic behaviour
  • They are easily irritated and can be unusually aggressive
  • Dramatic changes in their priorities
  • Involvement in crime
  • They have suddenly gained a new network of friends
  • Isolating and being non communicative
  • Secrecy and dishonesty

Signs and symptoms of drug abuse can vary depending on the drug. Any marked change in their appearance and behaviour should not be ignored.

If you have found drugs or drug paraphernalia (items that are used to administer drugs) then it is highly likely that they do have a drug problem or a drug addiction. That being the case, you should speak to them about seeking treatment.

Tips On Speaking To Your Family Member About A Drug Addiction

Broaching this subject is not easy, you may have mentioned your concerns before only for them to be dismissed or met with defensiveness.

Timing is important, try to speak to your loved one when you are calm and they are approachable. We suggest that choose a time when they are not intoxicated. Otherwise it is very unlikely that you will get any reason from them or that they will be able to recall the conversation after.

It is also helpful to educate yourself around addiction and the drug you suspect they are using. It is also important to suggest a viable solution to the problem.

1: Speak to them when they are not high and seem approachable

2: Keep your manner calm, approachable and factual

3: If there are other household or family members that they are likely to listen to, do ask them to get involved.

4: Present the evidence of why you think they have a problem with drugs. Relate specific incidents where they were under the influence.

5: Do not accuse, express your concerns based on fact

6: Tell them how their behaviour is affecting you and the rest of the household

7: Tell them what you know of drug addiction and that you understand that they need professional help

8: Offer to support them in accessing addiction treatment or drug rehab.

Once you have finished expressing your wish for them to get help, you may be surprised in that they acknowledge that they have a problem. If they still deny there is a problem, despite evidence to the contrary, leave the talk until the next time they surface from a drug binge.

What To Do If They Want Help

If your family member admits that they want help and that their drug problem or addiction is out of control, if financially viable, inpatient drug rehab offers the best addiction treatment outcome. Drug rehab also offers a medical and secure environment in which they can be safely and comfortably detoxed.

If they want help but you do not have the means to finance private rehab, suggest that your loved one contacts their local drug and alcohol team and also Narcotics Anonymous to find out where there is a local meeting they can attend.

If private rehab is an option please do call us to discuss our residential treatment programme. Alternatively, complete our online assessment form and we will call you.

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