How to Support a Friend or Family Member Struggling with Addiction

Many people who are struggling with addiction don't realize how much their family and friends care for them. Showing love and support and letting them know that you are there to help them on their journey to recovery is essential. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of medications that may be effective in treating alcohol dependence and other substance use disorders, such as Vivitrol (naltrexone), Campral (acamprosate), and Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone). Additionally, research suggests that online therapy may also be an effective treatment option for substance use disorders.

These programs often incorporate elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing, which involve the use of structured conversations to help people think about how their lives will improve by ending their addiction. There are several treatment options that can effectively treat addiction. Encourage your friend or loved one to talk to their doctor about using treatment programs, online therapy, or support groups as part of their recovery. To talk to others who have similar problems, consider SMART Recovery Friends & Family, which offers secular, science-based support group meetings (both online and in person) to help people affected by drugs, alcohol, or other addictions.

Many family members and friends buy food, provide financial assistance to pay court fines or lawyers, or pay rent to help someone, but this usually only prolongs the illness since addicts can avoid the consequences. It is important to understand the strategies you can use to help a friend or loved one who needs help managing their substance use. Talking to a health professional can sometimes convince someone to seek help for addictions, rather than listening to this suggestion from a family member or friend.