How can I help someone? 

Too often, we receive calls from relatives stating they just found out about their child’s substance use problem. We also discovered that in most cases, the parents have no clue what actions to take, never having dealt with this before. There is a sense of fear, worry, concern, and sometimes, a feeling of failure as a parent.

But there are so many different reasons a person will suffer from substance use disorder. Parents have very little to do with it unless genetic predisposition is present. What ever the reason, any negative emotion are far from constructive.

The First Step

There are literally hundreds of varying advice on this subject coming from a wide variety of resources. In my years of working in the field of substance use disorder, I can say with certainty that the first step to take after discovery is to gain some understanding. If you have no idea what Crystal meth is, find out. If your daughter is addicted to cocaine, well, learn about cocaine.

We have on our site some pages on different substances. Also, one of the best platforms on mind-altering substances is a website called; Here you will find answers, learn what you are dealing with, and know the subject. This action gives you an advantage in knowing what you discuss with the person.

Second Step 

The next action would be to start a dialogue with the addicted person. This dialogue is specific. You are not telling the person your opinions, know-best, or authoritarian dictates. Having that type of attitude is important. What is needed is question and answer, question and answer, only. You ask they answer. Their answer is not something to attack, judge, evaluate, or invalidate. Simply understand what they say and acknowledge it.

The whole purpose is to be compassionate and friendly. You want to create a safe and friendly atmosphere which permits the person to talk to you. Doing this will ease the person and make them willing to talk to you. Once you have an open conversation and know more about what is going on, you can begin to offer help. Normally by this time, the person will try to find solutions. They know and recognize that their life is a mess.

 Woman on the phone with a glass

The Next Step in Helping Someone

As you approach the person by doing the step above, you should do some homework. That is researching treatment facilities and the methods they use. Determining what best suits your loved one is a key factor in sobriety. Another vital question is whether you send them to public access or private rehab services.  This way, you will be prepared when the person states they need to do something about it. Statements such as I want to stop, but I don’t know how, or I need to change, I want to be happy again, and more. Any form of communication of this type is the green light to offer help.

Substance Use Disorder Help, Conclusion

The whole point is that help is possible and many families can do the first steps. It begins with

  1. Knowing the subject,
  2. getting the other to talk to you,
  3. listening without judgment, and
  4. helping them open the door to solutions.

If you need assistance, we can help.

You can find the coordinates for public-access here or visit this website:

Marc J. Bernard

Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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1 888-488-8434
Toll-free Number

Or Contact us through
our form here.


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