How do I deal with a family member or friend who has addictions?

Some background, some drama

It can be very difficult to see someone close to you struggle with addictions. Your family member or friend may be unable to make rational decisions, which may result in self-destructive behaviour. Thus, it’s important you provide effective intervention for your friend’s overall well-being.

Do’s and Don’ts

The earlier your family member or friend receives help and treatment, the faster the recovery process will be. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts to guide and help you deal with a family member or friend who has addictions.


  • Pay attention to your suspicions. Intervene early to help things from getting worse.
  • Discuss with them the problems that are associated with the addiction.
  • Respect their privacy when you talk.
  • Tell them that you are concerned about their health, safety and their well-being.
  • Share scientific information about the bad effects of the addiction.
  • Encourage them to seek treatment.
  • Offer unconditional support to your friend. Be a good listener.
  • Withhold judgement when talking to your friend. The last thing they need is a sermon.
  • Help your friend find a support group.
  • Join in new healthy habits, such as exercise, a new hobby, etc. with your friend.
  • Keep the environment addiction free.
  • Help your friend with more productive coping strategies to fight life stressors.
  • Be calm even when your friend is angry, resentful or emotional.


  • Don’t have arguments or throw accusation if they become defensive. Remain calm.
  • Don’t indulge in critical and judgemental statements. Use positive affirmations to help.
  • Don’t discuss what other people have felt or said as it may turn unproductive.
  • Don’t accuse or berate your friend. Instead be calm and help them.
  • Don’t lecture or moralise your friend when they approach you for help.
  • Don’t cover up or make excuses for your friend’s behaviour. Instead help.
  • Don’t give up on them. Support and help.

Last words

Compulsive addictions can interfere with the daily routine and mess up relationships. It’s important to help your family member or friend to kick that habit and start living life to the fullest. Overcoming an addiction takes time. Be there for them, help and support them.

Sources and citations