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Substance Use: Helping Someone Get Treatment

Overview

If you have a family member or friend who is using drugs or other substances, it may be hard to know how to help. You can't force a person into treatment. But you can talk to the person and encourage them to get treatment. Here are some ideas that you can try.

  • Choose a good time to talk.

    Find a time when the person is not using substances, when you are both calm and not angry, and when you can speak in private.

  • Be specific.

    Tell the person that you are worried about their substance use and want to help. Give examples of how the person's behavior has affected you and how it made you feel.

  • Spell out the consequences.

    Tell the person what will happen if they refuse to get help, and be prepared to act. Stress that you aren't punishing them but that you're concerned about them, and you also want to protect yourself from any harm that their habit causes. For example, you may say that:

    • You will no longer make excuses, such as if the person is late to work. The person will have to deal with the problems that substance use causes.
    • You will no longer allow substance-using friends in the home, or you will move out.
  • Be ready to take action.

    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.
  • If needed, consider a group intervention.

    Some people ask a group of people to help them talk to the person who has a substance use disorder. It's best to ask for help from a counselor or therapist who has had practice in group interventions.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: November 15, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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