Helping Addicts

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How to Help an Addict – A Visual Guide

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This is a visual guide to help illustrate how you can best help an addict or an alcoholic. The main concepts are highlighted throughout this guide and helpful bits of information are given with them. Anyone who is interested in learning more about these concepts would do well to investigate an organization called Al-anon and try to find one of their meetings to attend. Once there, the people who regularly attend Al-anon can help to give you pinpoint advice on how best to proceed with your situation. Getting information online is good, but getting advice in real life is better. Hopefully you will find this visual guide useful!
Visual Guide to Helping Addicts

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  • Pauletta McFarlan

    I’ve just read your site. My husband, Charles, has to give me my pain pills daily, or my doctor won’t prescribe them. I bug Charles to give me extras, and I know I’m going to lose him if I don’t stop this and just make do with the 6 pills. I have chronic pain and cannot function without them. My medical tests prove this. How can I stop pestering him? I’m a Christian, and I pray constantly. I love him so much, but I have to wonder if I love the pills more. Lord knows I pray not. Pleae give me some words of wisdom. There are times when I get that addict’s craving, and I don’t know what to do.

  • Patrick

    @ Pauletta – 2 suggestions for you. One, I would recommend that you go to inpatient rehab. Second, I would suggest that you ask your doctor about possibly using Suboxone to manage your pain, and your opiate addiction. Might be worth exploring for you…..Good luck

  • Michelle

    Hi Patrick
    Thank you for your wonderful article. My family is struggling to help a young man in our family. How are you doing today? I was curious as to what area you are from and if you do any outreach work with those suffering from addiction. Thank you.

  • heidi

    hi. Im struggling with a husband who is a drug addict. He tells me he can get off it by himself as we do not have money for a rehab. Is this possible? He is currently using supatex,thus far he used one yesterday and intends on using it for the next 6days. Please advise me what is best. Thank you

  • Patrick

    @ Heidi – well he is possibly going to be able to taper off the medicine by himself. That particular drug is actually used to help opiate addicts to detox off from heroin and other opiates, so at least it is not a worse situation. I would wait it out and see how he does. Encourage him to ask his doctor to set up a taper schedule for him to ween down off the medicine. Good luck.

  • Mary Ann

    I have a very good friend that is addicted to pain pills and now it is effecting everyone in the household. She has a mother that I think is helping her addiction by giving her money and allowing her to use her car to go get the drugs and then she has two wonderful children age 12 and 6 that are suffering do to all the craziness going on at the house. They miss way to much school and are not cared for properly. I am not related so I do not know how to handle this. They are in desperate need of an intervention but I don’t know how to do it without being a relative. I am in Kentucky and she is on Passport do you know of anyone I can call to talk with. I really want to help before her kids are taken away.

  • Patrick

    @ Mary Ann – I don’t know anyone in Kentucky but I bet if you call a crisis hotline or go to an Al-anon meeting you can ask questions and get directed to the resources that can help you.

    Good luck.

  • Ellen

    I have just found this website today, I am an alcoholic who has been functional or so I thought for the last 6 years. I have a very prominent job and a husband who loves me very much, I am now seeking professional help but am still finding it very hard. I hate the fact that I am hurting the people who love me. I need a friend! is there anyone out there who can help? It woud be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you

  • Cheryll

    Hi ,
    my son is a drug addict at 25 years old and is currently in a treatment facility where he went voluntarily. I love him and do not want to enable him. My husband and I go to visit him almost daily at the rehab center and I am not sure what to say. I am glad he is there and am concerned about when he is out of the center and how to respond at that point. I guess I am not sure how to be a good mom.
    Thank you!

  • jess

    My husband is a crack addict. I am having a very hard time dealing with this. We never have any money or food in the house. He gives it all to his habit. I feel like I’m going crazy. Please if anyone knows of any good advice please give it now.

  • juddy mabila

    I am a student social worker and i am very concern with substance abuser.I want to know how do you help a substance abuser and why should they receive help.

  • Kay

    My husband is addicted and I have to learn how to live with an addict. I hate drugs with a passion and I will flip out when he lies to feed his addiction. It’s a yo-yo life style. He does have neck n back injuries and a few surgeries. He feels less of a man and not the same. We try and it’s a battle. We are in love with each other and made a commitment to grow old together. We just celebrated our 21 anniversary. I need to back off and stop being an investigator. Help me understand to help in a caring way and non threatening way. He is on suboxne and medical marijuana.

  • Sharon

    I lived with functioning alcoholic for 23 years and final broke-away on my own. I have since re-married a wonderful man, who does not drink, smoke or use drugs. His 29 year old son lives with us. He is a musician, no work, but does collect the occasional royalties from a song he wrote. His brother 25 years, just showed up at our doorstep, addicted to heroin. The musician son is helping his brother through the withdrawals. Yesterday, they both entered the house smelling of marijuana. It pains and angers me to be in a living situation of addition again. Your website has reminded me of how important it is to detach. My husband is in denial that this is a serious problem and thinks his son will overcome this fine. There is a chance he will, but in the meantime, I know that I must stop worrying about this and take care of myself. So I have enrolled in some community activities to distract myself and make sure I get rest and exercise. Wish us luck!

  • Therese Marie

    @Sharon. I was married to 2 different alcoholic/addicts, and until I began working the 12 Steps in the Al-Anon Family Group fellowship my life continued to spin out of control. Even after leaving both addicts, my behavior remained the same, and I continued to attract either addicts or people affected by addiction. I use to cope by getting busy…by distracting from the emotions that hurt so much. But now, through Al-Anon, I see my part in the equation, and I am able to find serenity amidst the insanity that addiction brings. Your post says “wish me luck,” but with Al-Anon, you won’t need luck…you just need to show up. Peace!

  • laura

    i am in love with an addict of cocaine.
    he uses about twice a week, but this generally wrecks his and my life.
    we are in love but i am also quite aware that an addict has no levels of real knowledge of commitment, except to his addiction.
    i have never been to any meetings for myself, and neither has he.
    i ugess detachment is what i am reading i must do, is this indeed true?

  • gail

    I am in love with an alcoholic. He is also my best friend . He drinks alot of whiskey every day from the time he gets up until the time he sleeps. he is going blind and has painful eye deterioration. His eyes burn everyday. He says he drinks because it takes away the pain. He also hallucinates alot and gets confused easily. He is sick alot. I am just watching him waste away. My 14 year old son cant take it either. Something has gotto change! I am going to go by your advice. My boyfriend is not violent but when he drinks, he tends to be a real jerk. Mouthy and my son can do no right. I want to step away and detach but i am afraid he will do something horrible to himself. what do i do?

  • monica

    my man does crack also and he has been ruining our lives for 5yrs now. we have 4 kids who have been thru hell with the mess and no money and no food a lotta times, and i hated myself cuz i am an addict but had been clean of my drug of choice opiates, but end up using until i was so just sickof this life till i tried 2 hang myself out our attic window. somehow the cord broke and i just broke my spine in7 places but he still wouldnt stop. what do u do wen u need that person cuz ur health sucks and 4 kids need u but u cant take care of em so u get stuck w/ theri crackhead dad?

  • Donna

    I’ve been married to my alcoholic husband for 10 years now. He has been in and out of treatment 3 times in the last 3 years. He is 50 years old and has been an alcoholic his whole life. He is an abusive alcoholic. Has a lot of anger he knows he hasn’t dealt with even though he has openly admitted it is there. It was only 2 months ago he came out of treatment for the 3rd time since we have been together…4 for his lifetime. He just relapsed the other day and became verbally abusive. I left the house immediately. I do not feel I should have to leave home because he chooses this behavior. I told him we can not be together if he is going to drink. I had thought he had received a spiritual awakening when he told me he was in the hospital after they rushed him there while he was in treatment this last time and diagnosed him as a diabetic. He said when nobody was in the hospital room with him he heard a voice tell him “this is your last chance.” Now that he is drinking again I am beside myself. Tired of going through it with him. Do you have any advice at all. I’m into Al-Anon think it is great. I would like to see my husband healthy. I guess he just hasn’t hurt enough yet. How much control of his choices does he have? Does he know what he is getting us both into before he does this each time? How can a person say all those things about how they want to help others and how sorry they are, etc. then turn right around and do it all over again. We’ve been through a number of separations and I’ve had to lock him out of the house because of fear of what he will do. I don’t want to live this way any more. Thank you for thoughts you have to share. I read your articles every day. I think it’s wonderful what you do! God Bless You!

  • Dawn

    My 23 year old son is shooting opana and suboxzone and probably anyhing else he can possibly get his hands on.. I knew he had a pill addiction and got him to the dr and they prescribed suboxzone.. we did that for about 6 weeks with no insurance and it was taking everthing i was making to pay for it.. he wasnt working.. he refused to go back to the dr and started buying off the street with money from god only knows where.. I only learned about 6 weeks ago that he was using a needle which broke my heart to pieces… i feel like i am just waiting for my only child to die.. i wake up in the middle of the night to go check and see if he is breathing and the first thing i do when i wake in the morning is go make sure he is still alive… please any suggestions are so much appreciated.. i feel like i am losing my mind!!

  • Karen

    @wives of an addict or alcoholic. I too have a husband addicted. He has had great success in the past and was clean for over a year while we were separated. What I have learned is that the Addict Must experience the pain the addiction causes. I had to learn that my great nature to love and nurture was not in balance. I was codependent and needed to do my own self care and learn how to set boundaries to protect myself from the manipulation and control the addict operates in. These tasks are not easy. Wives, Mothers, you need help from someone who has been there..alanon, counselling every type of help you can get. Encourage the addicted one that they must get help, they can not do it alone, they can not trust their own reasonings to bring them to success. The addicted needs Massive Change! God Bless You!

  • Dana

    My boyfriend of five years is an addict. It has been too much for me and I broke it off he held me begging me not to leve that he would be nothin without me and he has no reason to leave just after a day he took 48 pulls at once to try to kill himself he hallucinated really bad and his friends ignored him as he called them crying his family let him stay there buy Locke themselves in there rooms to try to avoid him idk how he did not die from taking so many pills but I realized that I need to stay and help him instead of having a relationship problem is idk where to begin where to go or anything we have no money I’m workin but not much he had a good job and stopped doing everything except weed and then he lost his job because they were gonna test him and he would have showed positive for weed even though he was quitting please I need a game plan I need to know what I can do he pretty much can’t see his family cause they will just hand him pills and my family will just hand him weed idk what to do I’m trying not to stress my self out but it’s hard I want to help him he needs a job but he’s not clean and has a lot on his plate right now holidays are the worse cause we have no money it’s hard enough to get food. Please if someone could help me get a game plan goin that would be great case right now I’m just going with it and its hard to make progress If you have no game plan

  • Murphy

    My fiancé is addicted to opiates. He wants to get on subtext or Suboxone. But we don’t have the 500$ for first appointment. And don’t have money for rehab. He is functioning as far as he works everyday. But he says he has chronic pain that makes everyday he’ll without pain meds. We recently had a baby. And I don’t want to raise her with an addict for a father. But I love him and believe he loves us and wants to stop taking the pills. I don’t want to give up on him. But is difficult when he won’t seek professional help. Told me he will just stop taking the pills. But I know he shouldn’t try to detox on his on. Any suggestions on how I can direct him toward getting help would be most appreciated . I am scared that the stupid drugs will tear our family apart.

  • Cami

    Where are you located as we are in Canada…my husband is an alcoholic who went to Residential Treatment for 6 weeks last year this time! He did not continue with recovery. I love this website and all your information. While he did agree that he is an alcoholic and needed help…he was still in denile and unwilling to listen to advice from others…he still continued to blame me…and he did not continue with therapy…he began drinking within 3 months and his anger continued. My sanity has been pushed to the limits, and I did not control myself as I should have. I do know better because I have attended Al Anon meetings in the past. However we moved to a location where there weren’t any held. We are now separated…he ran away from home before Christmas, but it really was for the best as I began to withdraw from him and sleep in separate rooms, and tried to regain my sanity. I think he left me…before I could leave him as this was something I had tried to discuss with him amicably before doing so…but with an alcoholic NOT in recovery…a rational approach never seems to work. He has done nothing but drink since our separation and has stopped paying any bills. My family has helped me tremendously…not sure where I would be without them. I only pray for my husband to suffer the consequences of his actions and find the path back to recovery! Given the fact that he has been there once before…I remain hopeful…is that wishful thinking???

  • Cami

    Karen…are you still separated? Did he remain sober if/when you were back together? My husband blames me for his failure and also stated that he didn’t want to come back home after his treatment. I am not a user/drinker but I am/was codependent although it seems the stronger I became…the more he resented me and blamed me! Thanks for your post!