3 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Dennis Relojo-Howell

How to Help Someone with an Addiction Problem

Cite This
Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2022, July 6). How to Help Someone with an Addiction Problem. Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/how-help-someone-addiction-problem/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sadly, the world is rife with addiction, and it’d be so easy to blame the person addicted. However, the social standing of the world does not help. Modern life brings about so many things that can influence mental health and push people towards addiction.

Do remember that addiction is a mental health issue, as well as a physical issue. Addiction comes from the mind. When dealing with something like alcohol addiction, then alcohol addiction treatment recovery options (Abbeycare) is the best way to get help.

However, being close to a person with an addiction allows you to be able to aid them. Remind them they are not alone, and with help from a loved one, they are more likely to recover with greater success.

The number one rule: empathy

The number one rule to helping someone with an addiction is to be empathetic. Empathy will help you to best understand what they are going through, and will make them feel less alone in their recovery. 

Going the other way, and not displaying understanding and empathy is most likely to make the addict feel alone. This is likely to either make it harder for them to kick the addiction, or it may even push them towards no recovery at all. 

Being empathic can make the addict feel like they have a ‘cheer squad’ behind them, motivating them to get better. 

Consider how when you feel upset or low, you may not necessarily want advice, or direct help, just someone to say ‘Yes, that cannot feel nice’. In a sense empathy for an addict gives them the same feeling of security as affirmation does.

Be compassionate

Compassion and empathy are similar but not the same. Compassion is understanding and care. In this sense, when dealing with an addict it is wise to treat them the same way you could treat someone with a physical illness. The same level of compassion. 

Addiction is an illness, and it can become physical. Compassion should come from the recognition that addiction is not a personality flaw, and nor is it a decision, it is a disease, and your compassion can help the addict get cured of it.

Avoid shame

Humans all too often shift blame because it is easy, but life is not so plain for anything to be the fault of one or another. It is wise to avoid blaming the person for the addiction they suffer from. 

Chances are that they are already beating themselves up for having it. Do not pile on top of this. 

Shame can cause further problems, leading to mental health issues, personality disorders, low self-esteem, anxiety, and more. Shame can make the whole situation worse, so avoid it at all costs.

Understand there will be hardships

It will not be a cakewalk as you help an addicted person through recovery. 

They will face shame, stigma, and denial. In some ways dealing with an addiction is a lot like dealing with grief, they may feel ashamed of the addiction, be fearful of the stigma and therefore not want to open up about it, and they will deny it, in hope of avoiding the former two. 

Of course, the biggest hardship is the risk of relapsing. This is all too common, especially at first, and when confronted with hardships in the journey to healing. 

If your loved one does relapse, ensure not to place a focus on it, as it will only make it harder and bring in more shame.

Ignore expectations

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and an addict will not change overnight. They will not be free of their addiction in a week, month, or even a year. Addiction requires long-term efforts to recover. 

It will be an ongoing process for a long time that takes up a lot of effort and time. 

Lower any expectations to a realistic level, and understand that you will not see changes overnight. Perhaps in a year or two, or more, there will be significant change. Note that not every treatment works for everyone either. 

If one treatment isn’t working, try and try again until you find something that does work.

Gain insight

Finally, when faced with addiction, it is wise to educate yourself. Doing so will help you gain empathy, compassion, and all of our other previous points. 

Understanding what addiction is, how it happens, how it’s treated and how an addict may feel can help you better help the person in your life struggling with addiction.


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.

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