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11 Ways to Handle Substance Abuse

For as long as there have been mind altering substances, there’s been a certain percentage of the population who wind up abusing them. With variety and availability at unprecedented levels, substance abuse is not uncommon. The resultant popular more shift from criminal justice matter to public health problem is a welcome departure from a puritanical morality unhinged from reality. While the related political tides are coming in, statistically speaking, most of us are going to face this question on personal level. When a loved one develops a substance abuse problem, how should it be addressed?


Do NOT Stage an Intervention


And do not confront them directly. Most people will feel compelled to direct action, and want to do something immediately. You must resist this urge. In much the same way a funeral is not for, and of no benefit to the dead, the only thing an invention accomplishes is to stroke the collective ego of everyone involved. This way all the participants can go home, and sleep soundly telling themselves they’ve done everything they possibly could. Which is of course complete hogwash. The intervention is just a quick fix panacea for an attention deficit disorder culture and will most likely alienate the subject. Do you really think that everything will be wrapped up neat & tidy after an hour of making someone feel like a piece of garbage? This isn’t television, and in the real world things work far differently. Accomplishing anything meaningful takes hard work, dedication, time and patience. There are no short cuts here. If you really care about the person, you must understand that it’s going to take time, it’s going to be difficult, and there will be setbacks


Re-frame Your Relationship Dynamic


If you’ve managed not to barrage the subject with a fusillade of guilt (aka, stage an intervention), then you have a slight advantage, and some time to come to terms with this new revelation. Information can be a valuable and/or powerful tool. You know, but they don’t know you know. You’ve just bought yourself some time to think about the relationship, get prepared, and adjust how you interact with this individual. Once they know that you know, they’ll most likely modify their behavior and may even lash out at you, so do this privately. Adjust how you treat this person to match how they’ve treated you. Think about it. Has this person betrayed you? Stolen from you? Lied to you? Worse? How would you interact with a stranger who’s done all that to you? Keep in mind that this persons behavior is being guided by their addiction. This may be the most difficult task on the list, but also the most important because unless you re-frame your relationship dynamic, you probably won’t be able to accomplish the rest. And remember, mums the word: Loose lips sink ships.


Develop a Plan


And STICK TO IT. No matter what you do, you can not force another person to change. Change comes from within, and a person is only going to do this if they decide it’s in their best interest to do so. That being said, there are subtle methods of influence that can be applied and vary depending on the type of relationship. Your plan should include these methods, executed incrementally. The first part of any plan is to determine exactly what it is you’d like to accomplish, then work backwards from there to figure out how to execute it. A good goal in this circumstance would be “Get them off drugs & help them put their life (back) together.” Now, what can you do that would be effective?



Us Customs And Border Protection Officers

The first lesson in any emergency responder training is that you have to protect yourself first. It’s drilled in for a very important reason: if you don’t protect yourself, you can’t render assistance to others in need. Same goes of this situation. Measures that may be considered extraordinary must be taken, lest you place yourself, or your well-being in jeopardy. Herein lies the inherent benefit of observing rule #1: you can make preparations without arousing suspicion. Gather up all important documents and materials: wills, insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, financial records, etc. and store them in a safe location inaccessible to the subject. A safety deposit box is a good idea. Assume the subject has copies of keys for all your property that require one. Change the locks on all your real estate. Store your vehicle(s) securely, or better yet, sell them and get new ones. Your computer has probably been compromised with key stroke tracking software. Get it scanned, or better yet get all new equipment. Get a security system and/or security cameras that record to a remote server. With current technology, this can be done very easily & inexpensively. Change the passwords, access codes and pin numbers on all accounts with sensitive content – email addresses, online banking, paypal, etc. Just do a complete sweep. If you don’t already know them, go down to the local police department, introduce yourself, and explain the situation. Chances are, you’ll be seeing them soon. If they have advance warning about the situation, you’ll be a stronger position. Finally, change your will so the subject doesn’t stand to inherit a windfall. If necessary, place your estate in a carefully controlled trust. You can even put conditions on it that would incentives positive behavior.


Carefully Control Your Contact


For your own emotional defense you’re going to want to withdraw from contact at first. That means don’t call them, don’t go visit, and don’t make plans. This has the added benefit of making it easier to Re-frame the Relationship Dynamic. It’ll probably take them a little while to catch on, and hopefully you’ll have completed the action plan and self-protection measures by then. Once they do reach out to you, screen all calls and don’t return them for a day. Then, only stay on the phone for 10 minutes or less. This is going to make them uncomfortable – and that’s the whole point. If they start to think the relationship is in jeopardy, or changing, it will put them off balance. What’s really happening here is you’re taking control of the relationship. By making them come to you, you’re sending a powerful message that you’re in charge, and the relationship will be on your terms. You’re empowering yourself – for yourself, and perhaps more importantly, communicating this to the loved one. Once you’re comfortable running the relationship, you can expand to in person get-togethers, but these must always be on your terms, and never dependent on their participation. You’re going to do what you want to do, but it would be great to have them along. Expect them not to show up, and don’t be, or at least don’t communicate, any disappointment at their non-participation. But next time you speak make a deliberate point to mention that it was a great time.


STOP Enabling

Screen Shot 2012-06-08 At 12.02.50

This is just about the only thing you can do that might be able to influence the subject. Stop doing anything that enables them to continue their self-destructive lifestyle. If you’re providing them a place to live, stop. Put them out. You’re probably worried that they’ll wind up on the street, but if they do it’s by their own choice. Homeless shelters and housing projects do exist. Not having a roof over your head is a powerful incentive to find one. They might call you up and say that they’re hungry. Tell them to go find a soup kitchen, or sign up for food stamps. If they say their clothes are dirty, or worn out, just laugh and hang up. Everyone knows about laundromats and thrift stores. Everything you’ve done for them has been extremely generous, and if they’ve grown comfortable by it, you have the power to make their life uncomfortable. Discomfort is one of the most powerful motivators, and one of the originally stated goals was for this person to be self-sufficient. Emotional outbursts produce no substantive results. This can. But they have to do it for themselves.

Added bonus: any parasitic associates will soon be gone when the subject finds himself living in a musty basement apartment eating government cheese and cut off from an inheritance.


EVERYTHING is a Negotiation


Do NOT give the subject anything, without receiving something in return. If they call up begging and crying about how hungry they are, make them squirm a little bit before offering to have a pizza delivered, on the condition that they attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. You’ll probably have to stake out the meeting spot to verify this as it is anonymous after all. They probably won’t go, so put that one in the bank, and permit no further exchange until they make good on their word. Hold them accountable, and treat them like a stubborn child. Use the word reciprocity a lot. And explain to them what it means. Frequently. For more information, look up Operant Conditioning. It is effective regardless of age.


Join a Support Group

The Three Musketeers Fairbanks

You’re not the only one who’s going through this. Countless others have gone before. It is a tremendously arduous experience which is only made harder if you try to go it on your own. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s no reason you can’t reach out to others. They’ve been where you are now, know how traumatic it is, are glad to help, and can be your best resource. They can help you stick to your plan when the going gets tough, or even advise based on their experience. Attend an Anonymous meeting, and listen to what they’re saying. Each and every addict in that room once had people that cared about them. And they are the contemporaries of your loved one. Join a group. That’s what they’re there for.

A special note of caution: be selective in whichever group you chose to attend because many are illegitimate, ineffective, or have pathological ulterior motives. One such group goes under the name “Narconon” and should specifically be avoided at all costs. This group is a front for the Cult of Scientology used to recruit new members during a moment of weakness (recovery) when they are highly suggestible. Duplicitously, they’ve taken a name that closely resembles that of a legitimate and effective organization, Narcotics Anonymous.


Read a Book


Search around on an online bookstore for some of the best regarded books on this topic, or take a recommendation from your support group. Read up on the topic. Learn all about it. The more you know, the more effective you’ll be at dealing with it. A trite little internet list just won’t cut it. If you’re serious about this, you’re going to have to do more.


Give Them Hope


Once the fallout has settled, and a new dynamic is established, let the person know that you’re willing to help them, so long as they’re willing to help themselves. Tell them that you love them, and want them to get clean, and straighten out their life. And you’re willing to help them. But only on your terms. They’re going to go through some rough patches along the way, and hope may be the only thing that gets them through it. Knowing there’s someone out there who cares.


Live Your Life

Screen Shot 2012-06-08 At 12.04.49

This is not the end of the world, and it shouldn’t be the end of yours. Worse things have, and will happen. It’s normal to be upset, and scared, and angry; frustrated, disappointed, sad and depressed. If you didn’t run an emotional gamut, you’d be numb as a corpse. This is a terrible thing to happen, and while there’s only so much you can do for your loved one, there is one person you have complete control over. That’s you. The entire crux of this list has been about how to indirectly influence another by ones own behavior. If that person sees you living your life happily and contentedly, that may exert a positive influence. But you owe it to yourself not to let anthers misfortune ruin the rest of your life. Good luck.

  • db202

    For substance abusers to be

    integrated back to society

    reforms are necessary

    so that

    they will have a chance to bounce back

    • Sender

      This comment is brilliantly done

    • Self Control

      If you are addicted to drugs you are a loser. If your family sits you down and makes you choose between them and the drugs and you choose the drugs you are a piece of shit. Get a life, act like a big boy, show a little self control, and clean yourself up. Now. Today. Stop making excuses and get your shit together.

      • Danny medina

        Have you ever been addicted to drugs ? I want you to answer that question before I say anything about your comment because I don’t want to sound ignorant ???

        • Ben

          You don’t need to have been addicted to drugs to make assertions about the willpower and the like of those that are; drug use is a choice, not an incapacity like down-syndrome. If you’ve not become addicted, or better yet, haven’t used drugs, that just shows that you inherently have better self control.

          • ParusMajor

            I would have to say, if you’ve never used drugs, that’s no proof of better self control. Maybe you were never offered any or were just too chicken-s.hit to even try? If you’ve used them and quit; ok, that may show some self control. Then again, in the 60s everyone used drugs and some of those people are still around, having become rich (Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, even Keith Richards). What if their families had intervened at the time and told them to stop that stupid rock’n’roll and substance abuse and get a proper job as, say, a welder? (Yeah, I know, those particular people would have said FU to the intervention, but anyway)

        • Self Control

          I have never used drugs because I am not a loser. I have never used drugs because I have the self control not to use drugs. See how easy it is.

          • vulnerablebrena

            There are plenty of people who become addictted to opiates through ways that have jack to do with self control. I promise you, it you are hurt bad enough, you WILL take something for it. And if that pain last long enough, you WILL become addicted to it. The self control comes in to play, in this instance, after you’ve become addicted to it.

          • Sister Morphine

            piss off, wanker

          • mason

            Have you ever had a drink? Alcohol is a drug. And addiction is a disease idiot.

      • Pauly

        Fail troll has failed. Self Control is angry he’s a single 46 year old troll in his mom’s basement making comments on his PC in his tightey-whiteys.

        • Ben

          You try to invalidate his comments through arbitrary, puerile insults and yet you assert that he’s the ‘troll’? Perhaps what he said hit a little close to home?

          • Pauly

            He’s just an insensitive prick. I hate bullies, and besides, every troll is usually a pathetic loser in real life. It’s like watching someone spit on someone in a wheelchair for fun. How pathetic is your life, and how much of a loser are you if this is what you do for fun? It dosen’t hit near home for me, it just makes me roll my eyes that the losers have found Listverse.

      • I first wanted to tell you some bad things…then i said, i’m better than that…then realized i should not say i’m better then anyone. But you sir, lack emphaty. :) Because you think that’s what ppl do. Ppl have great resons to do drugs…just like they have great resons to do loads of harmfull stuff. Behind every addiction there are great reasons.

        • Self Control

          I have empathy for people with brain tumors. I have empathy for people who have lost their jobs due to the poor enconomy. I have no empathy for pathetic losers that would rather sit around and use drugs all day than be productive and useful members of society. Drug users made an active choice to be losers. Absolutely no sympathy for them. And my wife prefers me to wear boxers. My mother on the other hand was killed by a drug addict (read loser) that broke into her house to steal her social security money. How about a little empathy for the vitims of these losers.

          • More self control

            I am truly sorry about your mother, I can understand how you have such hatred. But, this person is obviously not just an addict, they were a dangerous criminal.

            Addiction is a disease. You don’t know what it’s like until someone very close to you suddenly transforms into a completely different, manipulative person. I used to have your attitude: drug addicts are SELFISH with no self control! But, that attitude helps absolutely no one, especially yourself.

            I know, as a complete concrete fact, that I have the strength and willpower to never be addicted to so much as cigarettes. You’re probably like that, too, which is why it’s hard for you to understand. But there are many people out there who have a terrible disease that’s been stigmatized in our culture and labeled as a weakness. It’s a disease. Perhaps a little empathy and understanding, a little ‘tough love’, will go further than making them feel guilty and inadequate. Seems you missed the whole point of the article.

        • Self Control

          Oh, and what are some of those great reasons to do drugs?

          • HOWDAREYOU

            I agree that people get addicted to drugs because they lack will power. However, you are truly an IDIOT if you think doing drugs makes you a loser. 1) Drugs are AWESOME. They alter your brain chemistry, heightening the way you think and feel. Doing drugs can provide you with new insights, give you a different perspective on the world, or just give you a good time. They key is to use drugs in moderation, over indulging in ANYTHING is bad for you. 2) Many extremely intelligent and successful people use drugs or have used drugs. For example, our last 3 Presidents have all AT LEAST used cocaine and marijuana. Many scientific breakthroughs have been a result of drug use (i.e. the discovery of the DNA Double-Helix design came to Crick after an acid trip). Go do some research on history and I think you’ll find that drug use among our best and brightest, be it alcohol or any other substance you can think of, is laughably commonplace. My point is, hate addicts if you want to, but don’t you dare attack drugs after they have given you and society so much.

          • Bambi

            How about people that have been prescribed Oxycontin for long term chronic nerve damage? neuropathic pain is one of the worst types of pain possible and becoming addicted to Oxy (pharmaceutical heroin) is incredibly easy since you HAVE to take it day in and day out if you don’t want to be crippled up in agony.

  • Not Being Fresh

    How about “don’t over-react?”

    Honestly, I’ve seen a lot – and I mean a lot of people outgrow substance abuse problems. By abuse I mean use of illegal substance on anything other than an occasional basis OR getting really drunk on a regular basis.

    • notimpressed

      Where did you get the pictures for this list? A tard’s scrapbook? It looks like a little kid put them together.

      Also too American as always

  • Will Trame

    I’ve never screwed with drugs but did undergo a period of heavy drinking in my younger years…..I come from a long line of alcoholics…yet it took a few severe bouts of the gout to do what all the countless years of hangovers and sour stomachs couldn’t: it put me firmly on the wagon. I haven’t been f***ed up since saturday, January 28, 1995.

  • Pauly

    I quit smoking four years ago. To this day, I STILL get a strong craving once in a while. I’ve smoked in my dreams recently and woke up with sore lungs. I quit drinking eight years ago, and liquor has no pull on me anymore. Not so with cigarettes. Anyone else?

    • indigo

      Addiction is usually a lifelong thing, which is why people need to start treating it like an illness. An alcoholic can be sober for years, think they’re okay, then have one drink and go back to the way hints were before they originally quit.

      • Diablo

        That is one, arguably very incorrect view.

        Most addicts are self medicating due to underlying issues. Simply telling the addict that they will always be an addict, and do nothing to correct the underlying problems, then yes, the addict will always be an addict and the rate of remission will be insanely high.

        AA has popularized this myth that if an addict were to just stop the coping behavior, their issues will be solved. That’s insane. This is akin to someone breaking their leg and I coming up to them and taking away the morphine, claiming that the drug is holding them back. AA has a worse success rate long term for alcoholics than spontaneous dryout (where the alcoholic simply wakes up one day and no longer drinks).

        Telling an addict that they will always be an addict…that the only thing wrong with them is their addict is a cruel and hateful thing to force onto someone.

        • PowderedToastMan

          @Pauly: I quit smoking about 5 years ago cold turkey, i.e. one day I just decided not to buy my daily pack, and I haven’t ever since. Haven’t even craved it. Sometimes if someone has offered me a cigarette, I have accepted and smoked the cigarette (hasn’t happened every day that I’ve accepted, maybe once or twice a year, just to test myself). It hasn’t brought the urge to smoke back, I still haven’t bought my own pack’o’cigs since I quit. Maybe I wasn’t that addicted after all, despite smoking for years. As for liquor, that has a pull on me, although I haven’t actually even tried to quit. So I guess you don’t crave booze, I don’t crave cigarettes. Interesting, I guess everyone’s different.

          @Diablo: You must be right. It was really easy for me to quit smoking, and I’ve got no desire to smoke any more, so I wasn’t hooked for life. Although serious drugs are probably more addictive.

          • Pauly

            Good point.

            Caught the Ren & Stimpy refrence in your name. I miss that cartoon, too.

    • quit smoking 16 years ago and still have cravings for it….there are habits and there are addictions…those with habits often call them addictions when they clearly aren’t. An addiction makes a chemical change in your brain that causes you to not only crave the substance but make you physically ill when you don’t have it. Then you require more and more to get the same feeling from the substance…some people need help breaking bad habits but can do so fairly easily, Addictions usually require medical intervention at some point, although people have done it on their own, it is a much harder thing to do.

    • I agree, I quit smoking cold turkey recently, after over 30 years of smoking, and I also quit drinking after 16 years. I must not have an addictive personality, because I have absolutely no cravings for either, and I’m 35. I know, I started young. My mother was a severe alcoholic and my father smoked 3 packs a day and they both died indirectly from their addictions when I was quite young. Every other member of my family is addicted to something or another.

  • lol, funny the first thing i’d do is stage an intervention….come to think about it, they REALLY dont work, you just say stuff, they say stuff and that’s just about it.

    nice list :)

    • Missy

      I used to be a smoker. When my eldest was 2 years old, she gave me a kiss, then said “Mama, you stink!” They were the words I needed to give up on the spot.

      • Hey Missy, its great you gave up, and thanks to the three words of ur 2 yr old….

        maybe interventions to really work after all.

        wait, was it an intervention or….she just like, just said it?

        • Justin

          Jamie, just letting you know…when replying to a comment, the reply box has the ‘cancel reply’ line inside it.

          It’s very hard to click reply rather than cancel.

          Tried to reply to a comment and it was cancelled.

          Using Firefox.

        • Missy

          She just gave me a kiss, screwed up her nose and said it. I realised it was ruining our health and our relationship, so the smokes got tossed out.
          That 2 yr old is now 24 yrs old with her own 2 yr old.

      • oouchan

        I used to be a smoker too. My daughter did the same to me when she was 10, but in a more dramatic way. I was at the store with her and needed to add cigarettes to the list and made mention of this in front of her.
        Her: “Mom!…I learned in school that cigarettes are drugs. They are bad!” (and at the top of her lungs…) ” My mom is a drug user!”

        Yeah…..I quit shortly thereafter.

        • Arsnl

          My parents were smokers and I guess that’s why i never smoked in my life. And I’m happy to say they quit too. I still get irritated when i scent smoke.

        • ricej1969

          Kids are great. I have changed some of my habits because my kids have made a comment or two. It is different when your child tells you something than if your spouse or friend tells you.

        • Ben

          Wow, I always assumed you were a gay man, what with that picture.

      • ParusMajor

        @Missy: that’s good for you, but I actually remember my grandfather smelling of pipe tobacco when I was a kid, and that smelled good to me…

  • Jakob

    To nr. #8, it isn’t a zombie apocalypse? I don’t get why you should do all that stuff such as getting a new computer and video surveillance. Do you think that the substance user is trying to kill you, or have i misunderstood the whole list?

    • Ex-Addict

      No Jakob, the substance abuser is not murderous, but when addicts get desperate you better believe they’ll do anything they can to get 20 bucks out of you.

      Thats when video surveillance, lockboxes, and ATM Pin Changes come in handy – At least now they have to ask you for it, rather then sneak it out of your atm or pawn your old cell phone they stole.

  • Annoyed

    This list would be useful if I knew any tweekers, but I don’t. It’s so unfortunate.

  • Chris

    Al-anon. For the loved ones of alcoholics and drug addicts. It has been the most helpful to me after way too many substances abusers in my life. But no more drug abusers for me I am better then that and deserve much more.

  • Nate

    Is it just me or do some of these things seem excessive? I mean changing your will? Really? I’ve never heard of anyone actually killing a loved one for drug money.

    While you do have to redefine your relationship with a person it isn’t exactly as easy as cutting the off for a few days. A majority of people who abuse substances started taking them to deal with familial and social stressors. Cutting off contact can and probably will only serve to further the problem, especially if that person sees you as safe.

    While this list gives some good pointers in some areas, others are generally way to extreme. Remember; Addicts are still people, you can’t train them to change like you would with a dog in obediance school. They only will change when they want it, not when we do.

    • Arsnl

      ” I’ve never heard of anyone actually killing a loved one for drug money.”
      Alcoholic brawls that end up with someone killed happen a lot.
      “They only will change when they want it, not when we do”
      Yeah. But people shouldnt put up with a dbag. And they will not want to change if they are not faced with the conqesuences of their actions.

  • Arsnl

    So an intervention “will most likely alienate the subject” but making the person beg for a slice of pizza when they are hungry or mocking them or kicking them out the door is not supposed to alienate the person?
    “Put them out”
    “If they say their clothes are dirty, or worn out, just laugh and hang up.”
    Thats how we end up with crack wh0res buddy.
    ” Get a security system and/or security cameras”
    Yeah i can see everybody do that. And not at all paranoid.

    • vulnerablebrena

      See, Arsnl, this is why I have a “crush” on you. Who doesn’t like an intelligent smartass?

      • Flippant

        Who doesn’t like an intelligent smartass?

        LoL! Exactly, Brena! :lol:

      • Arsnl

        Well I still you’ll be quick to criticize when I’ll make any errors.
        (If there’s anything women are good at, that’s criticizing :-) )

        • vulnerablebrena

          But of course ;) znd I wouldn’t expect any less from you, either.

        • Arsnl

          *I still *hope*
          I need to proof read before posting. :-)

          • vulnerablebrena

            Eh, so do I. Mine say “znd” instead of “and”. Not to mention how bad I fumbled “regardless” a few days ago, haha…

          • Tomorrow Never Knows

            It’s spelling ffs, no one gives a sh*t except neckbeards.

    • Annoyed

      LOL! This is exactly why this list is not only worthless, but dangerous.

  • oouchan

    Good ideas all of them. Going through such a thing would be hard. I agree with protect yourself first and stop enabling. Sometimes it’s better to walk away. As for not staging an intervention…this is also a good idea. It just wears everyone down and you could end up doing more harm than good. I would be more for bringing it up during a “sober” moment. But I guess that might just be me.

    Nice list.

  • Chris, South Wales

    Probably one of the better lists I have seen on here in while. They are clearly the words of sound experience and moral strength, as opposed to the snotty assumptions of academics and legislators who think they perscribe what is best for people they would never take the time to know.
    I have always believed in the tough love approach to the situations described here.

  • Taylor

    I have been surrounded by substance abuses my entire life. This is the most ludicrous, misinformed, and egocentric list on this site. Copernicus wanted me to let the author know the universe does not revolve around you. Focus on getting the other person help–not on buying yourself a security system. I highly advise against following this list; focus on the abuser’s needs and getting them medical help via rehab and support.

    • Cherry

      I agree; my (ex) bf of 7 years is now a full blown homeless crack addict, nothing I did could have made him change his mind. I kicked him out, he stole my car, my bill money, my phone, bags of food, broke into my house several times, and I tried my best to help him, offering help, not trying to be judgmental… it comes down to whether the person really wants to quit or not, and the only paragraph of this post that did anything for me was #1. This posted list is useless when it comes to addiction. I cannot convey how much I miss him, and what it has done to me; but I am slowly letting go and moving on with life. This is not something you can just decide to take control of, it is definitely way more complex. I miss my best friend, my companion, my protector and support, but he is no longer that, and I offer my stupid advise to anybody that is in a relationship with an addict: you cannot bring back the person they used to be, what is in the past is gone. Keep the memories and move forward, because only they can decide what they want and they will never be the same. Sorry if this is a little long winded, but it really hit home, and this list sounds like it came from somebody who never had to experience this kind of situation first hand.

    • Nerd

      I disagree. My brother is a crackhead and I wish I would have taken the advice on this list sooner. When my mom and brother kicked him out I took him in, looked out for him, paid for his doctor’s bills and everything. While smiling in my face he, little by little, stole more than $6000 worth of electronics from me and even stole from my kid! When I put him out he threatened to burn my house down. I had to get a restraining order against my own brother. He managed to brake into my house one more time to steal my kids brand new Ps3 and take a dump on my kitchen table (that one has actually become funny over time). Addicts suck, they don’t want to get better, cut them out of your life and save yourself the grief.

  • indigo

    8-5 are ridiculous. Number 8 automatically assumes that all drug addicts are thieves, which isn’t true, and even if they are thieves there’s a good chance they won’t steal from a friend. Numbers 7 and 6 say that it’s better to cut off contact from the person, when really what a serious addict needs is someone to reach out to them and help them. Number 5 is similar. All of these contradict with number 2, and in reality if you followed this list exactly then you’d have them not trust you and possibly become worse off due to trying to feel better using a substance.

    • vulnerablebrena

      …”even if they are thieves, there’s a good chance they won’t steal from a friend”

      This is mostly false. Drug addicts becomes a victim of their own drug of choice, and will do anything to keep from going through the pain of withdraws. They become desprate and do things they normally wouldn’t. After years of counseling addicts, one of the constants is the regret the user feels for betraying friends and family. Most of them say they comitted theft by deception or outright theft to obtain drugs when desperate.

    • mom424

      Yes they would – and then they’d help look for it. At least the crack heads I know have done exactly that.

    • Tontonmijares

      This made me laugh. I hide my giveaway aodictidn, but my husband LOVES to boast about things I get for free. Most people don’t quite get it and assume I’m being scammed.

  • Sidd Vicious

    If everybody else just got addicted to the same drug, then the person you’re trying to confront won’t feel so alienated. If everybody showed up to the intervention tweaking, I bet it would go a lot smoother.

  • mom424

    Redefine your relationship? Kick out your minor or near minor child? So that child becomes everyone’s responsibility? Gets welfare and has no supervision whatsoever? The answers are a little too simplistic – because there really are no answers, no quick fixes, and no easy way out. I’ve two oxy addicts in my family; one was able to quit cold turkey (about 3 or 4 times before it sunk in) whilst the other is still on methadone. Everyone is different. My advice – don’t take any of that crap; no oxycodone, no vicodin, no nothing unless you’ve a terminal or chronic ailment. The size of that monkey is ridiculous.

    btw – My family is peppered with alcoholics; I believe that my two at risk kids would be drunks if that the first thing they came across…exact same disease, just different way of getting there.

    • vulnerablebrena

      Methadone, believe it or not (there is a harsh response to it) is helpful for some users, if you use it under supervision, with a set treatment plan that you actually follow. A lot of users use it as a “maintenance.” That is how people end up on it for years upon years. These are usually the addicts who don’t want to stop, yet no longer like the daily struggle of finding drugs on the street and living with the fear of the pain that comes with withdraws. The bottom line, is for anything to help, you have to actually want to quit. And for an addict to want to quit, most usually need to hit rock bottom. Does that mean you help them get there? No. But enabling makes it worse.

      The “rock bottom” part is the thing most people are familiar with. This brings about myths of things that will work, such as completely cutting off your own child or other harsh actions that are usually met with an equally harsh response. What a lot of people aren’t familair with, is a lot of users realize they don’t want the life of an addict anymore when they find something that is more important than the drug or the high. I have seen more success stories with recovering addicts who have loving, supportive friends and family, versus the users who got help through the harder “rock bottom” path.

      The best advice I’ve heard given is love them. If they are important to you, make yourself avaliable, but not assertive. Don’t give them money for drugs, but help them have the things they actually need. Offer to get them help, but don’t demand it. And let them know the offer still stands when they turn it down, because most likely they will, at first. And when they do get help, don’t make them do it alone. Offer to go to classes or counseling with them. It will help them know they aren’t alone, and give them a higher chance at success. Everyone is different. I wish you the best. It a hard road to travel.

  • My brother is a meth addict and we recently ignored your suggestion of no intervention. After talking to people a lot smarter and more experienced than us – that was the course of action they suggested. (They also recommended most of the other tips you provided.)

    Our intervention was on Mother’s Day and it was nothing short of brutal.

    I wrote a couple blog posts about this living hell, but I wanted to share a very brief excerpt from my last post: “One friend said, “I just don’t want you to have any regrets if something bad happens.” My earnest response: “The only thing I’ll regret is if I coddle him, enable him to live this destructive lifestyle, and THEN. HE. DIES.”

    My prayers are with ANY family dealing with addiction and drug abuse.

    • Arsnl

      I’m a math addict…too trollish?

      • vulnerablebrena

        Aw… maybe a tad, but we forgive you ;)

        • Arsnl

          “The best advice I’ve heard given is love them […] make yourself avaliable, but not assertive”
          Adiction doesn’t have to be just on a substance. Math adiction is a real thing and you should follow your own advices. :-)

          • vulnerablebrena

            Make me laugh for a few more days and I’ll consider it :)

      • astraya

        Math addict: if you use an exponential function, you get very, very high, very very quickly.

      • Sister Morphine

        you nerd! :)

  • peter8172

    I never once took a recreational drug or abused a controlled substance in my life. However, I am a recovering alcoholic who has been sober and clean now for 5 1/2 years (After all, alcohol is classified as a drug). I only drank beer or a few shots of highly potent booze. The reason for that is because buying alcohol is LEGAL to purchase, so long as your of drinking age or attempting to get behind the wheel of a car (Trust me, I have three DUI’s under my belt). Which leads me to this. One can get drunk and plied with beer or booze every night, even if they live to be 85-90 and the ending result is that you will get arrested time after time and keep on doing it. A Policeman will fine you or incarcerate you but that’s as far as it goes. He can’t say to me that he can’t make me drink, that’s your own freewill or choice. Now, when a doctor says you have to stop drinking right now. Then the reality sets in. In November of 2006, I was diagnosed with Diabetes Type 2. What did I do. I just simply went “Cold Turkey” with drinking. Now, No.4 on this list says to join a support group. WRONG. All Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are simply a religious outlet in which they talk about the Good ol’ times about when he or she did their fair share of drinkin. There is a book that you can find in bookstores or your local library entitled, “The Small Book” by Dr. Jack Trimpey who is as anti-AA as your going to get and its a page turner. Fact : 90% of all people who attend AA last no more than 4 years and their right back to square one. If I go to a restaurant that serves alcohol, I order a ginger ale. My father who likes on a very rare occasion have a glass of wine with dinner always asks me if it bothers me seeing him drink a glass of wine. I just jokingly says “Get loaded on a fifth of Scotch for all I care, it doesn’t bother me” in a nutshell I don’t need to attend AA meetings because I am an agnostic / atheist and that I am almost literally scared to look at bottles of booze and 12-Packs of beer. So along with being Diabetic Type 2, and other chronic conditions that keep coming on, I also have the following : Anxiety, Insomnia, High-blood Pressure, Acid Reflux syndrome, mild depression, Neuropathy, and last but not least, the amputation of my Big Toe of my Right Foot due to complications from Diabetes. And I am on a cocktail of 12 different medications, and for all of the chronic conditions. So, like the old saying goes “Think Before You Drink”

    • Sister Morphine

      AA is a crock.

      • Nthabiseng

        Wonderful story, reckoned we could ciombne a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well

  • Jono

    This list needs a disclaimer at the very least. It’s obviously written by someone with a little bit of knowledge (enough to be dangerous through ignorance).

  • Lurkerdelurking

    Known drunks and junkies for 35 years and been sober for ten myself. I’ve read whats been said on these threads and see many conflicting replies. Few things in life are concrete but some things can be relied upon like the sunrise. #1 Junkies steal. If you think thats not true you either don’t know any or haven’t discovered anything missing YET. #2 Alcoholics lie. Addicts in general lie and part of the reason is that if they told the truth the facades by which they live would crumble. There is some good advice on this list much of which is not only disagreeable to read but disagreeable to follow through with as well. Save yourself first by any means necessary. Most people don’t need surveillance systems but some do. The afflicted will choose to inflict as long as that is a viable lifestyle. If your contact with the person creates that scenario you are enabling that lifestyle. If you don’t want to enable that lifestyle you will have to limit the contact. One of the myths by which the addict lives is that their lifestyle is viable. Breaking that myth by taking yourself out of the addicts life isa vital part of shedding truth into the life of someone who lives a lie. If the addict is comfortable living on the streets as many are there is little hope for their ability to form lasting sobriety. Honestly the street is one of the last stops before death. I have known street drunks who have found lasting sobriety but very few comparatively. The underlying truth is that I can’t decide for others only myself and when you have a loved one going through this it is the last thing you want to believe.

  • Mary

    I’m going through a divorce at the moment because my husband is a prescription drug abuser. After 4 years, 3 rehabs, stealing from me my dad and others, losing two jobs, I just couldn’t do it anymore so as in #1. I’ve decided to go and lve my life. If me and my 2 boys aren’t enough motivation to remain sober, I am no longer going to enable him. He has remained sober since the separation and has been an awesome father but I just won’t live the rest of my life with anger and mistrust! Thank you for this article I’ve done all of these unfortunately and fortunately.

  • Armadillotron

    Drug dealers should be executed. End of.

    • Sister Morphine

      right pot growers should die. you have ALL the answers. great job.

  • Lifeschool

    I can see the author has certain credentials on this type of thing, and probably charges quite a sum to impart this kind of information. But as a trained social psychologist and philosopher I have to say there is no ‘right’ way to deal with every situation like this, and to be honest (ask Arsnl points out) some of the advice could be extremely harmful if put into practice. First and foremost, it all depends primarily on how big a deal you want to make of it. Someone might take exception to a regular drinker and smoker – to someone else this is acceptable. But if we are talking about hard drugs – such as crystal meth, crack and heroine, then some of the list items are ver relavent. You cannot always know how much a person is ‘driven’ to their substance, and as humans generally always tend to take the quick and easy option over one which is much more difficult, the addict is more likely to choose drugs over their relationships; especially if you take steps to ‘treat’ them differently and slyly by changing the locks and your bank account. This type of forced alienation can literally drive someone to drugs as a way to cope. I’m known casual addicts turn Pro just because their relationships were put under pressure by the family. You never know how someone is going to react to ultimatums and threats, or given the cold shoulder, but the chances are you’ll simply push them further over the edge as they get deeper into the ‘couldn’t give a damn anymore about my body or YOU’ kind of behaviour. With that im mind, there are my top 10 ways to handle heavy substance abuse:

    #10 – Take it on board but don’t judge it. Just see the person as a normal person who happens to do certain things. Don’t look down on them for their lifestyle choice or a habbit which they happen to have gotten into in life. They may have started for one reason but continue for another. They may not even like themselves very much; so no point making them feel worse by feeling sorry for them. The fact is, they do it – and everything else you add on top of that plain fact is a story you’re making up just to justify or condemn them – which helps nobody. Cut the stories, stick to the facts.

    #9 – Never trust them, but don’t show it. If the substance abuse is more powerful than rational thought or reason, then the person is going to use drugs no matter what. This means they are not able lying, cheating, and stealing. If they don’t know you know, the effect will be less than when they do know you know, as now any moral judgement on the matter can be justified by their actions. However, never try to alienate them by changing the locks or selling their stuff. If you do this the addict can often see you as vulnerable (and you MUST be feeling vulnerable or you wouldn’t have taken those measures) so they can and often do make more of a nusance of themselves if they know you are frightened of them. If the worst happens and they break in to your house, a better tactic would be to move house completely and then they don’t know where you live. While they know your whereabouts they could make your life hell.

    #8 – Find out the truth. Ask them how they see their addiction. If they say all the usual things such as ‘I want to get clean’ then you are only a small way there. There person is unlikely to admit a problem and they will say they can ‘handle it’. So find out their side of the story. If you are lucky they will let slip why they ended up on the drugs in the first place. If it is a carry over from some teenage pranks it will be easier to suggest they look at themselves and realise life doesn’t have to be that way. If they are happy taking drugs, and don’t want to quit, then don’t jump in with both feet and say ‘it’s OVER between us’ or there will be a backlash. Instead you must explain to them your feelings. Do not say you are worried about them as this will make them clam up as if they are ‘ashamed’ but in fact it is a way to sidestep the situation. Instead calmly suggest it would make life difficult for you – and state the actual reasons (not just ‘you really aught to change). If this works you might actually make the addict feel sorry for you and then they are half way to recovery.

    #7 – Never force an addict to do something if they really don’t want to do it, or they are just doing it to keep you happy. Never try to shame them into rehab or promise things will be ‘better’ when they do, because sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes they come out of rehab totally changed, sometimes not. Sometimes a marriage survives, sometimes it won’t; so you can’t say ‘going into rehab will fix everything’ because that is a promise you cannot keep. Instead given them support and power only if they show signs of determination to quit. As soon as they make the move you can back them all the way, but never say ‘you are too weak, you’ll never go to rehab’ as this is a self fulfilling prophesy and a bitter blow to the addicts willpower.

    #6 – NEVER spy on the person or follow them to rehab as this will sow seeds of distrust in the addicts mind. As soon as the addict finds out you are spying or rifling through their things, any motivation to ‘get well for YOU and the relationship’ will go out of the window. Seeds of distust is enough to make someone feel like they must escape back to the security of the dark place – which is counter productive. As I say in #9 – do not trust them – as a serious addict will think nothing of robbing for or forcing you to hand over money – but do not show it.

    #5 – Never go overboard with praise. This sets up conditions for failure; especially if they are some way into rehab and then weaken in moments of madness. If you’ve boosted them up with fancy words of praise they will be artificially raised on a high pedistal – and it’s easy to drop off and fall down from there. Instead, gradually increase your enthusiasm as they progress until you reach a milestone of ‘one year without’, and then you can start to celebrate. Remember, some drug addicts never fully recover, and just one hit could send them back to the dead zone. So take things slowly and carefully.

    #4 – Try to plant seeds of change in their minds so that the addict wants to be free. Otherwise the chance is you’ll face a losing battle. As someone said already, change has to come from within, so if you can convince them that the bad side of taking drugs has outweighted the good side of drug use, then maybe they will begin to help themselves. There is always a good and a bad side of drug use, the trick is to highlight how much easier life would be if they were clean rather than condemning the bad side. Help them realise they once did drugs for a reason, and that reason is now over.

    #3 – Know when to cut your losses. The recovery of addict is often very volatile and they may have many relapses. In one sense it may help to say ‘don’t give up on them like they have given up on themselves’, but in other cases is does help to sever the ties as an addict will often drain the person dry of money and patience otherwise. If the person keeps relapsing and offers the usual excuses then it often is better to let them go and get on with your life. ‘Better’ yes, but not ‘easier’; especially if you love them dearly. But don’t be a sucker or they will take you for one and hang you out to dry.

    #2 – Provide them with people who have quit in the past and are glad they quit. A previous addict is a FAR MORE powerful incentive than a person (you) who has probably never taken anything stronger than a joint. This is why some recovery clinics are good in that the person has plenty of support from fellow recoverees. As soon as they are clean, call then a recoveree (like escapee) so they feel like they are out of jail and out of reach of the dark side. Never call them an ‘addict’ again, as they are more likely to return to your forced label and became the very thing you are trying to avoid. Use good labels, not re-enforcing ones. If you cannot find a recoveree willing to talk you can dig out interviews by Dennis Hopper, Samual L Jackson, George Carlin and others who say the same thing, they were all glad they quit.

    #1 – Never insist on ‘cold turkey’ as this is far more likely to drive them crazy and back over the edge. Instead stick to ritualistic times to medicate and cut out those times slowly over weeks. If they realise they don’t need the drug they are nearly there. Try to take their mind off it with substitutes such as drama or theatre, but not sex, as sex cannot replace the rush of drugs and simply replaces one release device with a lesser one. Try to get them down to three hits a day, morning, afternoon and night. Then cut out the morning hit and the afternoon as they can now go all day, and then reduce the hit taken at night until one time they will forget and you have beaten it. If you want to go back, give them a small amount but not a tiny amount as this may only lead to craving for more. Give them enough to get high but not cained and then lessen the amount again. Never say never again, as if the person is desparate they will feel like crap and once their self esteem goes that’s it. Instead see minor step backs as no issue and focus on the next day and then the next. You cannot live someones life for them, so DONT treat them like a child or they will be more likely to bahave like one in response. Instead treat them like a normal adult. If they weaken then do not punish them but instead focus on the positive and get on with it. Do not make yourself look an enemy, or an ally (partner in crime), as both are harmful, instead give them enough dignity to make their own choice. If they choose inappropriately then see item #3 and cut yourself out of the picture.

    Notice I didn’t say ‘see a doctor’ as replacing drugs with drugs; a high with a shallow ‘fix’; is often not only expensive but also ineffectual and keeps the drugs/pill popping habbit re-enforced.

    Here endeth my free consultation. Please drop your contribution in the bowl by the door.

    • Lifeschool

      the **** = s.e.x

      Sorry for all the typos, I am a gifted speaker but quite a dyslexic typer.

    • Sister Morphine

      i quit because of Samuel L Jackson in Black Snake Moan when he tells the girl to get her shit together and live her life.

  • Evan

    I just read this cross-faded.

  • Sardondi

    I say this in all seriousness: I can’t tell if this is serious or an elaborate parody.

  • notawittyname

    Self Control, you obviously have a keen insight to the human mind. I assume by your well written comment that you are very familiar with the many causes of drug abuse, such as mental illness. You should consider becoming a shrink.

    • Self Control

      We are all responsible for our actions. Being mentally weak is no excuse. I suppose we should give the mentally weak a pass on theft, roberry, rape, and murder too. Hey it’s not their fault.

      Those of us that are useful and productive members of society should not put up with those that choose not to be.

      • vulnerablebrena

        You, sir, need to calm down

      • C

        You need to open your mind. Dropping acid would help.

        • Sister Morphine

          the doors of perception will open

  • Breece smith
  • Jordan Retro 5 Shoes

    Those are great ideas; I use two or three already ?C esp. the one about encouragement ?C but I will try a couple of the others. Jordan Retro 5 Shoes

  • All_Night_Wrong

    What about marijuana? Weed kills 87,432,712 people each year. Marijuana use among high-schoolers has increased by 412.365% over the last 982 weeks. Doesn’t anybody care about this killer plant anymore? I see many comments here about crack, and heroin, and meth (and now we have “bath salts” too), but no mention of the real villain, the “gateway” drug that always starts people on the downward spiral. Shame on all of you for ignoring the green elephant in the room.
    I’m hungry.

  • joebecca

    this was a really dumb list, sorry

  • Norkio

    Add kids into the mix and I think a lot of these rules get really clouded.

    • Sister Morphine

      good point

  • noone

    You will be much happier once you relieve and accept that life is a pointless series of unrelated random events with no meaning. There is no fate, divine being, or reason. You’re born, you die and a brunch of random events occur in between. Your life or lack of said life will have no impact on the world at large.

  • MW

    Ok first, I’m surprised that many of the commentors missed that the article is about the person helping someone beat substance abuse. I t should be retitled to reflect that. @ParusMajor- Hey brain child, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, even Keith Richards have all given up drugs, Paul just this year gave up pot for his child) and when you mention celebs who use drugs and got famous, don’t forget Jimmy Hendrix, John Belushi, and Kurt Cobain. Substance abuse is a sad slippery slope. There is no good way to get anyone else to quit, it has to be on that useres own terms. The aritcle was interesting, but not very useful as general “what to do” guide. Good try though.

  • Reblogged this on healthwellbeingblog.

  • Dave K

    I’ve often wondered about #11. Why is it called “intervention” and not “kidnapping?”