How to Help Someone with a Drug Addiction

lady comforting crying girl

Alcohol and other drugs continue to plague society, having a damaging impact on individuals, their family members and the wider community. It is of vital importance that people experiencing drug and alcohol dependency have someone to provide them support. Whether this is a friend or family member, this person can provide the extra help they need to manage their substance abuse issues and take control of their own life to live healthier and happier.

What is Substance Abuse?

Drugs and alcohol are otherwise referred to as ‘substances’. Substance abuse is when these substances are being misused in an excess, often resulting in addiction or causing various other substance use disorders such as mental illness. Some substances can be highly addictive. This means a person feels a strong compulsion take the substance despite any harmful consequences that may proceed it. The individual becomes dependent on the substance to feel they can function. They may experience withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. This could be mood swings withdrawal, body aches and pains, fatigue and cravings. Substance abuse always has negative consequences, not only for the individual with the substance use disorder, but for everyone around them such as family and friends.

Types of Drug Abuse


Alcohol addiction is the most common form of drug abuse. It provides short term emotional appeals. Alcohol abuse can give you serious physical handicaps such as liver damage, as well as lead to mental health problems.


Narcotics medically refers to drug abuse that contains pain killing properties or induces sleep. These can be opiates such as Morphine, Codeine or Heroin. Opioid addiction is very common and can cause your heart rate and breathing to dangerously slow.


Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that speed up the brain. This generates a temporary euphoric like feeling. This makes it not only a popular drug, but an addictive drug. Substance misuse can lead to serious health problems including changes to your brain, mental illness and cardiovascular damage.

Alcohol and Drugs

Prescription Drugs:

Prescription drugs refers to substances that can be legally prescribed by a doctor, and when taken correctly can have major benefits. While these may not be illegal substances, when abused they can still cause serious health problems.


Benzodiazepines are drugs that slows down our brain and body. This is a depressant type of drug, similar to alcohol and cannabis. Abuse of these drugs can cause cognitive impairment, impaired coordination, depression and anxiety.

Cocaine & Crack:

Cocaine and crack are powerful stimulant drugs that are highly addictive. Cocaine is one of the most abused stimulant drugs in the world. Users experience a feeling of intense power and energy. Drug abuse can lead to serious health problems such as nose damage to the septum, heart problems, mental health problems, high blood pressure, memory loss etc.


Hallucinogens have a powerful effect on the human brain, changing how you see reality and your surroundings. This form of drug abuse can lead to paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, ‘flashbacks’ and psychosis.

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How to Help

Educate Yourself

To begin to help someone you think is abusing drugs, you first must come to a place of understanding. Being educated on the subject can be incredibly beneficial. Research everything you need to know; signs of addictive behavior, treatment resources, rehab programs, the recovery process, online support groups etc. Reading this article is a great start! If needed, seek professional medical advice.

Establish Trust

Trust is essential in any relationship, but it is especially important when someone is dealing with addiction. It can be difficult to trust someone who has hurt you in the past, but it is worth it to try and rebuild that trust. Don’t be judgemental in your approach but compassionate and understanding.

Help the addict seek treatment

Encourage your loved one to seek external support for their drug abuse issues. Discuss treatment options for them. This could be referring them to a mental health services administration, professional treatment provider, joining a support group, family therapy, financial assistance provider, healthcare professional etc.

Provide support for family members

Drug addiction affects not only the individual, but puts a huge stress on those close to them as well. Check in on their immediate family. How are they coping while their loved ones suffering with drug addiction? Could they use your support? Would they benefit from seeking their own professional help? Are they being supportive of the family member suffering drug addiction?

Get Counselling:

A loved one’s addiction issues can bring about a lot of emotional pain. It is important to not only look out for your loved one’s recovery, but for your own well being as well. Seeing a counsellor may be beneficial to help manage stress when dealing with someone with an addiction.

Expect Difficulties

Drug and alcohol addiction can be a complex issue to navigate. Getting someone to recognise their substance abuse issues, as well as them following their addiction treatment plan can be extremely difficult. When helping someone with a drug addiction, it is important to have an optimistic yet realistic mindset. Recovery is not always a smooth journey.

Support group discussion

If you’d like to have an advanced understanding of how to help people suffering with addiction and work as a professional support person, you can study a Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs with TrainSmart Australia. At TrainSmart Australia we’re passionate about producing quality health and community service professionals, giving our students the confidence and skills to build a fulfilling and prosperous career. We’re a leading provider of nationally recognized training and education, conveniently located in the Perth CBD. We ensure all our students are properly trained and prepared to enter the workforce as exceptional workers. Begin your journey to a new career in support work now and enrol today!

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