10 Supportive Tips for Family and Friends of an Opiate Addict

support for families of addicts

Every year, there are more than 2 million Americans who deal with opiate addiction. So if you have a friend or family member who is an addict, you should know that you definitely are not alone.

Despite this, it can be a real challenge for those who know an opiate addict to provide them with the help they need. Some addicts don’t recognize they have a problem, while others are simply unwilling to accept help from those who love them most.

Don’t let this discourage you from providing assistance to an addict. Here are some supportive tips that will help you do it.

1. Learn as Much About Opiate Addiction as You Can

Unless you’re a former opiate addict yourself, there’s a good chance that you don’t have any idea what your loved one is going through. This can make it hard, if not impossible, for you to communicate with them.

You should do your best to learn as much about opiate addiction as you possibly can. You can do it by:

  • Reading books on addiction
  • Finding articles about addiction online
  • Reaching out to an addiction center to get brochures
  • Speaking with an addiction counselor

While you still won’t ever be able to 100 percent relate to an opiate addict, you’ll increase your chances of connecting when you educate yourself about addiction.

2. Let Your Loved One Know You’re There for Them

After you know all there is to know about addiction, you should try to speak with the opiate addict in your life about what they’re going through.

If they haven’t revealed their addiction to anyone yet, you might want to start out by speaking generally and asking if there’s anything they’re struggling with at the moment. If they’ve been upfront about their addiction, you might want to get more specific and see how they’re feeling about their problem.

Above all else, you should let them know that you want to provide them with as much support as you can. Whether they simply want someone to talk to or need help finding an opiate rehab center, you should then follow through and provide them with the help they need.

3. Offer to Assist With Finding Professional Help

One of the things that’s tough for an addict is that they often want help but don’t know where to turn to get it.

If your loved one asks you to find professional help for their problem, you should research different rehab centers in your area and find one that will work for them. You should keep everything from cost to the experience level of those at the centers in mind to come up with a list of their best options.

4. Understand If Your Initial Attempts at Helping Are Rejected

You may want to help an opiate addict, but that doesn’t mean that they want help from you.

If they tell you to back off or ask for you to butt out of their lives, you should respect their wishes and understand where they’re coming from.

At the same time, you should let them know again that you’re there for them if they ever need help.

5. Avoid Becoming an Enabler

Those who know an opiate addict often try to “help” them by enabling them. They do this by:

  • Lending them money
  • Making excuses for them when they continue to use opiates
  • Bailing them out of jail when they run into legal problems

It’s very easy to get sucked into being an enabler. Avoid doing it at all costs since it could just make an already bad problem even worse.

6. Consider Holding an Intervention

Does it feel like the addict in your life just isn’t “getting it” as far as realizing they have a problem?

One way to open their eyes might be to stage an intervention. While you want to be careful about how you go about doing it, you can bring a person’s friends and family together to let them know exactly how their addiction is taking a toll on others.

Often times, someone battling addiction will make a stronger commitment to quitting drugs and get the help they need once they see how their actions are affecting others.

7. Practice Patience and Manage Your Expectations

A person isn’t going to beat an opiate addiction overnight. There are some people who struggle with addiction for months and even years.

Even if a person says they’re willing to get help, you should be patient and manage whatever expectations you might have for them. Don’t expect them to beat their addiction right away.

8. Continue to Let Your Loved One Know You’re There for Them

A lot of opiate addicts will try to beat their addiction only to fail. If this happens to your loved one, it’s important for you to not give up on them.

People often give up on themselves and that makes it even harder for them to bounce back from addiction. They don’t think it’s worth them even trying to beat addiction at that point.

Continue to talk to your loved one and let them know that you’re there for them, even if they aren’t able to beat addiction right away. They’ll appreciate knowing they have someplace to turn.

9. Get the Help You Need to Deal With Addiction

Addiction can obviously wreak havoc on an opiate addict’s life. But it can also wreak havoc on your life if you don’t get any help for yourself.

You should consider scheduling time with a counselor or therapist if you’re not seeing one already. There are also special classes set up for the families of addicts.

You might not realize it, but your physical and mental well-being could take a hit while you’re helping someone else deal with addiction. If you want to be as strong as you can for them, you should take care of yourself first.

10. Prepare Yourself for Relapse

About 40 to 60 people who receive treatment for opiates experience addiction relapses at some point in their lives. It’s not all that unusual for someone to go through the whole rehab process and then find themselves using drugs again.

While you want to hope for the best, you also want to prepare yourself for the worst. Recognize that your loved one may relapse and that it doesn’t mean you should turn your back on them.

If anything, you should start back at square one as quickly as possible before they find themselves getting back to their old ways again.

Start Helping the Opiate Addict in Your Life Today

Are you an opiate addict suffering from the side effects of addiction, or do you know someone who is addicted to opiates at the moment? You can get them the help they need and allow them to turn their lives around forever.

Learn more about recovery from opiates and find out how to combat one of the biggest problems in the country today, contact (855) 976-2092.


[1] American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015, October 13). Opioid Addiction – 2016 Facts & Figures. Retrieved from https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf

[2] Intervention: Help a loved one overcome addiction. (2017, July 20). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/intervention/art-20047451
[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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