How to Help

It’s hard to watch a friend or family member struggle with substance abuse or addiction. Here are some important tips and pitfalls to be aware of so that you can better prevent addiction from escalating.

Symptoms & Warning Signs

Secret and Suspicious Behavior

Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors can be an early warning sign of drug or substance abuse.


Sudden and drastic changes to appetite and sleeping patterns can be a warning sign of drug and substance abuse.


Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home, including neglecting one's children, can indicate drug or substance abuse.


Unexplained or sudden changes in personality or attitude can be a warning sign of beginning drug abuse.


Using drugs to relieve withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, insomnia, depression, sweating, or shaking, can be a sign of addiction.


If a friend or family member is abandoning their hobbies, sports, and friends, that could be a warning sign of addiction.

How to Intervene

If you suspect that a friend or family member has a drug problem, here are a few things you can do:

Speak Up

Talk to the person about your concerns, and without being judgmental, offer your help and support. The earlier addiction is treated, the better. Don't wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom. Be prepared for excuses and denial by listing specific examples of your loved one's behavior that has you worried.

Take care of yourself

Don't get so caught up in someone else's drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have people you can talk to and lean on for support. Stay safe by not putting yourself in threatening situations.

Avoid Self-Blame

You can support a person with a substance abuse problem and encourage treatment, but you can't force an addict to change. You can't control your loved one's decisions, so let the person accept responsibility for his or her actions–an essential step along the way to recovery for drug addiction.

Don't Cover Up

Don’t cover up or make excuses for the drug abuser, nor shield them from the negative consequences of their behavior.

Don't Hide or Throw Out Drugs

Hiding or throwing away an abuser's stash can bring sudden and unexpected consequences. Actions like this deteriorate the trust you have with that person.

Don't Make Emotional Appeals

Avoid making emotional appeals that may only increase the user's feelings of guilt and compulsion to use drugs.

More Resources

Help Guide logo

Self-help site for a variety of physical, mental, and social health tips.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration logo

Find treatment centers, resources, publications, and training across the nation.

A New Life is Within Your Reach

Are you ready to discover how we can help you succeed? At Parkman Recovery Center, we strive to make our services easily accessible. Fill out the form below to speak with a qualified specialist to discuss your personalized treatment plan.