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Each year, more than 21 million Americans struggle with some form of substance abuse.

If you’ve ever watched a loved one struggle with addiction, you know just how helpless that can feel.

But figuring out how to help an addict doesn’t have to be a struggle. By knowing the signs of addiction to be on the watch for, and understanding the steps you need to take to get them help, you can break the cycle of addiction and get your loved one healthy and happy again.

If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, keep reading to learn how you can help.

Pay Attention to the Warning Signs

Noticing the signs of addiction as soon as they start, or at least as soon as possible, is one of the best things you can do when helping an addict.

It’s never easy to break an addiction. But the longer a person spends addicted to a substance, the harder it gets. Oftentimes, addiction can lead to a variety of other health issues that can make it tougher to handle withdrawal or go through other steps of breaking an addiction.

If you suspect that someone you love might be headed towards addiction or are already addicted, you should begin looking for the signs that might prove your right.

Signs will vary depending on the individual and the substance that they are addicted to.

But a few common symptoms are problems with cognition or memory, a constant lethargic state, avoiding social gatherings, asking for or stealing money, and poor hygiene.

Stage a [Gentle] Intervention

When most people think about how to help someone get off drugs, the first thing that comes to mind is to stage an intervention.

An intervention can be a great way to show an addict that they have a support group that wants to help them and inspires them to make changes. But if you take too tough of an approach, it can have the opposite effect.

When you’re staging an intervention, it’s important to be firm with the person you’re addressing. But being too demanding of them or putting them in a position where they feel cornered isn’t going to lead to them agreeing to get treatment.

Instead, it can cause them to isolate themselves from the people who are trying to help.

Of the more than 20 million people who are battling substance abuse in the U.S. nearly 7 million also suffer from a mental illness. Attacking an individual and demanding that they change can cause them to become even more nervous or distrusting, which won’t help them to seek care.

Gather a Support Team

Before you can start working on other tactics for how to help a drug addict, you need to start by gathering a support team.

A support team is essential for a variety of reasons.

First, they are people who loved and cared for a person before they were addicted. They remember what that person was like, what they enjoyed doing, what they were passionate about. They’ll be able to help remind the addicted person of what life was like before their addiction started.

The support team is also important for providing care. They can be there for the long hard nights, doctors appointments, and to offer support in other ways as well.

When you’re trying to figure out how to help someone on drugs who doesn’t want help, your best chance at changing their mind may be to find the right people. You need people or even a single person who is going to be able to get through to that person and inspire them to try to change.

Find the Right Rehab Center

Breaking the hold of an addiction is a time-consuming, incredibly difficult process. If left unsupervised and without professional support, and addict may quickly relapse. Rehab centers offer a solution.

In isolation and surrounded by experts as well as resources, an addict is far more likely to break their addiction.

Rehab centers are important even after a person is clean because they help to rehabilitate the individual for life outside of the center. They may help them relearn how to care for themselves, teach them coping mechanisms, or even help them to develop skills to start earning a living again.

Finding the right rehab center can be the difference between success and relapse.

Start by narrowing your search by centers that offer services that fit your loved one’s needs. For instance, one individual might require a more intensive care program than the next.

You’ll also need to check with your insurance company to see what types of programs might be covered, or set a budget for the level of care you can afford.

Finally, you’ll need to decide whether the individual will do better in a local rehab program, or if you think its best that they are isolated from their current surroundings at an out-of-state center.

Offer Resources Along With Support

While staging an intervention and getting an addict into rehab are both important, the job doesn’t stop there.

Even after a person is no longer addicted, they will still need your support to continue to live life clean and start reentering society.

If you are able to, offer any resources that you can. If the person cannot drive yet, you might offer to take them to AA meetings, doctors offices, or other appointments. If they don’t have a place to stay, you might offer to allow them to stay in your home.

While you should never put your own family in danger or neglect your other responsibilities, showing a recovering addict that you trust them and want to continue to help them improve can go a long way towards keeping them motivated.

Learning How to Help an Addict Break Their Habits

Learning how to help an addict is one of the most difficult lessons you’ll ever learn.

But by building a support system, offering resources, and finding the right rehab center, you can help break the unhealthy habits and get them on the road to recovery.

Before you can start doing that, though, you need to first learn how to tell when a loved one may be addicted. To learn more about the signs that you should be watching for, check out this article.