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How to Talk to A Drug Addict

How to Talk to A Drug Addict

No one automatically knows what to say to someone struggling with addiction.

If you’ve also just recently discovered that you’re living with a drug addict or a loved one has been battling this condition, then a lack of communication can be dangerous. Finding the right words or learning how to talk to a drug addict can also be difficult if you have a history of enabling their addictive behaviors. Although people who have lived and worked with individuals with substance use disorders may have discovered effective ways to communicate, the task can always be a challenging one. Addiction is a tough and overbearing disease, so much so that addicts will often become defensive when confronted about their problem.

Fortunately, there are effective ways of communicating with someone who has an addiction that you can put into practice. Changing the way you approach the situation can put an end to enabling and codependent behaviors while still showing them that you care.


Tips on How to Talk to A Drug Addict

There are certain things you should keep in mind when confronting an addict. Our Pompano substance treatment center is sharing some tips that can help you effectively make your point without pushing the person away.

  • Be kind: Show you care through your behavior and words. When speaking to the individual, don’t criticize, bully, judge, insult, or belittle them.
  • Listen more than you speak: A person battling with addiction is more likely to confide in you if you’re willing to listen without interrupting or criticizing them. This is pretty special, especially because many addicts avoid talking about their problems.
  • Educate yourself: Addiction may not make any sense to you, and that’s normal. If you’ve never had any other experiences with drug or alcohol abuse, then you may not understand the basis of a person’s addictive behaviors. However, a great way to make for an effective and helpful conversation is to educate yourself about the person’s condition.
  • Be consistent: Back up your words with your actions. For example, don’t share a beer or bottle of wine with your loved one after confronting them about their drinking problem. By backing your words up with action, you can prevent enabling behavior.
  • Be predictable: Just as you should be consistent in your actions, you should also remain predictable. Unpredictability equates to instability, which can be stressful to someone with an addiction. Addictive behaviors are often unpredictable, so set a good example for your loved one by being a steady foundation they can rely on and learn from.
  • Constantly show your love: It’s easy to get caught up in the logistics of getting the person to rehab and forget to show them love. However, love is your driving factor in all of this, and it’s the main thing that often encourages people to get help for their addiction in the first place. Substance abuse often makes addicts feel unworthy and unloved, which is why it’s important to tell the person you love them every day, no matter what.
  • Set boundaries: It’s important and necessary to let the person know what you won’t put up with and what bothers you about their behavior. If you’re living with an addict and they seem unwilling to change, gently let them know you can’t continue living with them unless they get help. Counseling is a great place to do this.

Living with or being in a relationship with a drug addict can make for a lot of problems. Not only is it hard to watch someone you care about struggle with a disease, but it can also be difficult to support them because of their behavior. Fortunately, help for families of addicts is also available. Banyan Pompano offers a family program for loved ones of addicts who need therapy and care as well. We know that substance abuse affects everyone the individual loves, so we prioritize family and close friends in our recovery services as well.


What to Say to A Drug Addict Who Needs Help

Loving a drug addict can take its toll. In our attempt to love the individual and make them as happy as possible, we may do too much for them and consequently enable their addictive behaviors instead of stopping them. While caring for them, we may also begin relying on their need for our care to the point where it becomes unhealthy and further contributes to their behavior. Enabling and codependency are dangerous yet common traits of relationships involving addiction. If you want to put an end to these toxic patterns of behavior and get your loved one to PHP treatment, below are some things you can say to gently start the conversation about rehab.

  • “I wanted to check on you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
  • “I’ve noticed you’ve been acting differently lately, and I wanted to know how you’re doing.”
  • “I’ve been worried about you lately. Is there anything you need help with?”
  • “I’ve noticed you've been drinking more than usual lately. Is everything okay?”
  • “I’ve noticed you’ve started using [insert drug name], and I’m worried about you.”


Once you’ve begun the conversation and the person seems comfortable talking to you about their drug or alcohol problem, then you can ask questions like:


  • When did you start using [insert drug name]/drinking like this?”
  • “What made you want to start doing this?”
  • “Do you feel like your drug/alcohol use has become a problem?”
  • “Do you think you can go a day or a week without using drugs/drinking?”
  • “How can I help you?”
  • “Have you thought about getting help?”


It’s also important to show your support. Some encouraging words for drug addicts you can use when showing support for your loved one include:

  • “You are not alone, even if you feel that way.”
  • “I’m here to do whatever I can to help you get better.”
  • “It may not seem like it right now, but you can overcome this.”
  • “I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I’m willing to help you through every step of the way.”
  • “I won't give up on you.”

When talking to an addict about getting help, the best thing you can do is be honest, listen, and show your support. Ask guiding questions that keep the conversation going and help the individual realize the impact of their behavior.


The best way to help someone with an addiction is to find them a treatment center. Getting your loved one help at a formal rehab facility allows them to develop effective coping strategies for recovery and other skills that’ll help them stay sober for the rest of their life. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our drug treatment in Pompano Beach.


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.