Seeing one of your closest friends succumb to drug addiction is not easy. We often feel helpless and can seem difficult to do anything to affect them for the better.

While a serious problem will probably require the need for an intervention or professional rehabilitation, on a personal level, there are a few things that you can do to help your loved one.

Below are 4 tips that are important to remember if you’re trying to help someone you love and care about get through a drug addiction.

1. Treat Your Loved One Like a Human Being

First of all, it’s important to keep your friend or loved one like a human being, rather than as an addict who needs to be “fixed”. Contrary to what some people believe, a little bit of compassion can go a long way in helping an addicted friend or family member in their recovery.

In this particular case, professional rehabilitation centers often come up short. Instead of being a source of hope for an addict, rehabilitation centers often become a place where the drug addicts are treated like animals. It’s almost like being in jail, as they’ll be limited to the things they can and can’t do.

Because your relationship with the addict you’re in a unique position where you can give your friend the love and support that they need as they battle through their addiction.

2. Encourage Them to Find Other Pursuits

You may or may not be familiar with the Rat Park experiment that scientist Bruce Alexander created. During the experiment, rats were given the choice between plain water and a morphine solution. The study found that rats in solitary confinement more often chose to drink the morphine solution compared to rats in the “Rat Park” that was filled with balls and wheels to play with along with other rats.

Basically, the study seemed to imply that those rats that got addicted to the morphine simply didn’t have any other options for things to do. It also concluded that there is a bigger psychological aspect to addiction than what was previously believed.

Each of us thrives when we have a purpose and better activities that we can focus on. Activities can motivate us and distract us from our inner thoughts and create great moments in our lives to pass our time. For addicts, it is even more important to find these activities.

This can not only serve to keep their mind busy but also to find meaning and joy in other ways. If addicts feel that there is nothing to wake up to, why would they ever stop?

Whether it’s learning a new language, starting a new sport, or working hard in a new career, there needs to be something that can inspire them. Encourage them to pursue other activities or to find their passion in life so that they can begin making better use of their time.

3. Be Someone Who Will Not Go

Many addicts cling to drugs to feel a sense of comfort, joy or even love that they had never felt before.

Drug abuse has a lot of serious effects on the way the brain functions and drug addicts are addicted to the dopamine surges they get from their drug of choice, and it can be hard for them to break from their dependency on that feeling. If you want to learn more about the ways that drug addiction affects the brain, you can read more here.

It’s important to show an addict that you love them as they are and that you’re there for them no matter what. Speak to them as a real person and work to understand them better. Try to them to open up to you.

Then, by being a strong and loving presence in their lives, you’ll have the best chance of helping them change their ways and encourage them to recover.

4. Stop Guilting and Judging Them

In many cases, drug addicts are looking for drugs to help them forget the painful memories of childhood trauma or abuse. Other times, social circumstances can play a part in the addiction. People whoa re in pain often seek for pleasure through drugs and other means if they can’t find it in their daily lives.

It’s important to never judge a drug addict but to try to understand where they are coming from and what may have led them to where they are now. Never try to guilt them or judge them and expect that it will change their behavior. It may increase their pain even further and they’ll be less likely to trust you.

Final Thoughts

From all the points above, you can see that one of the main things you need to remember when trying to help someone with an addiction is to simply help them to feel more responsible and in control their own lives.

By being a good friend, seeing past their addiction, and understanding where they’re coming from, you’ll have the best chance at being a positive influence in their lives.