My friend is a drug addict, how should I help her?

Addiction is a disease that has a deep impact not only on the addict, but on their family and friends as well. First and foremost, it is important to remember that your friends addiction is not your fault and that you alone cannot cure them. Helping an addict includes a complex combination of support, boundary setting, suggestion, kindness, and at times even intervention. As important as it is to learn how to help a friend struggling with addiction, it is also important to recognize which tactics actually hurt more than they help.

If your friend is a drug addict, it can often be important not to help by providing financial assistance. If your friend is known for lying about bills, emergencies, or other financial matters in order to get cash for their substance of choice, then it is important not to succumb to their pleas for cash no matter how genuine they may seem. Likewise, it is often a bad idea to offer free rides or free room and board as this can lighten the financial load of responsibility for the addict, making it easier for them to put those funds toward a habit.

Help Them Find Resources and Real, Professional Help

Some addicts are not opposed to the idea of positive suggestions and help, but have difficulty doing research, especially when they feel unsupported. One healthy way to provide assistance to a friend struggling with addiction is to compile a list of local resources and hotlines for them. This list may include web addresses, physical addresses, and/or phone numbers for rehab centers, halfway houses, sober living facilities, therapists, or detox centers. Even if your friend does not utilize the list right away, they may remember it at a later date when they reach rock bottom. Once your friend is sober and seeking out recovery, there are more ways in which you can help her. You may help out by providing rides to and from their home or sober living facility from work, therapy, or meetings. You may assist with job hunting, childcare, or other household duties. Especially in the earliest stages of recovery, these tasks may seem overwhelming and new for your friend.

Boundary Setting

It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but setting firm boundaries with an addict who is currently using is one of the most helpful things that you can do for that person. Often, allowing a person to reach their bottom helps them to seek out recovery more quickly than if you continue to coddle that person. If your friend is actively using and asks for favors that makes you uncomfortable, it is not only healthy, but crucial that you say no to that friend. This may even include cutting a friend out of your life until they are sober.

Once you have suggested professional help resources to a friend who is struggling with addiction, only to watch their struggles get worse, it may be time to cut that person out of your life temporarily. This is especially true if you are in recovery, as you do not want to bring on a relapse for yourself. Once your friend gets the help that they need, it is likely that they will come back with an apology, a new mindset, and a new way of life. If you are at risk of bodily harm, theft, or other acts of aggression while dealing with a friend who is using, it is important to realize that only the law can help past a certain point.


Sometimes, the best way to help your friend might be to schedule an intervention where the goal is to take them to detox, rehab, or sober living by the end of the intervention. During an intervention, you will get together other friends, family members, coworkers, etc and present reasons that you hope to see your friend enter into recovery.

Addiction can be extremely painful to deal with whether you are experiencing it yourself or just watching a loved one struggle. It is important to remember that you alone cannot save a life but you can still share resources and support. Sometimes getting a friend into recovery is as simple as sharing the right information with them. If you know someone struggling, let them know that our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 732-392-7311 for help.

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