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How to Help a Struggling Addict Admit They Need Help

People struggling with addiction have a chronic, progressive brain disease. The brain actually changes with long-term drug or alcohol use, making it difficult for individuals who have an addiction to admit they need help. Once the brain has undergone these changes, it leaves substance abusers powerless to realistically see themselves and make rational decisions. They’ve come to depend on drugs or alcohol to function, so they will make excuses to justify their substance use and put off treatment for as long as possible. There are several ways you can help a struggling addict admit they need help.

Stage an Intervention

An addiction intervention is a highly effective method of breaking down the substance abuser’s denial and getting them into an addiction recovery program. By staging an intervention, a group of loved ones help the individual understand the negative consequences of destructive behaviors before more serious consequences develop. Casa Nuevo Vida, of Los Angeles Sober Living Homes says the biggest part of the intervention process is to have the substance abuser admit they need help. Once the addict admits help is needed, they’re offered an addiction recovery program or some form of treatment. It’s hoped that the individual will accept the help offered and enter treatment.

Don’t Enable

If you want a substance abuser to admit they need help, stop enabling. Enabling an addict means stepping in to cover for mistakes, and shielding them from the consequences stemming from the addiction. A few examples are: giving the addict money, a place to live, and making excuses when they don’t show up for work, school, or family obligations.

Enabling an addict prevents them from experiencing the consequences of substance use and behaviors, which creates an unrealistic world. Since they are not experiencing the natural consequences from using, addicts can convince themselves that they’re doing fine. It’s quite a difficult step to get an admonition since the support they’ve been receiving helps perpetuate the cycle.


When you’re dealing with an addict, it’s important to take care of yourself. Even if the substance abuser won’t get help, get help for yourself. Addiction is a family disease, and what affects one part (the addict) affects all parts (the family). Seek professional help to heal regardless of what the addict decides to do. When the addict realizes the addiction is serious enough for you to seek professional advice, it may be the motivation they need to admit they need help as well.

Addiction is a serious disease and requires serious treatment and help. It can’t be done half-heartedly. Most of all it requires an admonition of the help needed.


Tim Esterdahl

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