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Drug Problems: Helping Someone Get Treatment

Topic Overview

If you have a family member or friend with a drug problem, you probably want to help. This can be hard. You can't force a person into treatment.

One thing you can do is to stop making excuses for the person. For example, if the person is late to work, refuse to make an excuse. The person has to deal with the problems that his or her drug use causes.

If you feel that you'd like to talk to the person about the drug problem, here are some suggestions:

  • Find a time when you and the person are not using drugs or alcohol, are both calm and not angry, and can speak in private.
  • Be specific. Tell the person that you are worried about his or her drug use and want to help. Give examples of how the person's behavior has affected you and how it made you feel.
  • Tell the person what will happen if he or she refuses to get help. You could say that you will no longer allow drug-using friends in the house or that you will move out. Be prepared to act if the person continues to use drugs. Stress that you are not punishing the person, but you want to protect yourself from any harm that his or her habit causes.
  • Know ahead of time where and how to get help. If the person agrees to get treatment, call for an appointment right away. Don't accept "We'll call tomorrow." Offer to go to the first appointment or meeting.

Some people ask a group of people to help them talk to the person who is using drugs. This is known as a group intervention. It's best to ask for help from a counselor or therapist who has had practice in group interventions.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Last Revised January 5, 2012

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