Addiction Management Blog

How should we help people who struggle with addiction?

I have posted this video before, but at some point deleted it because I was not completely happy with the overall quality. That said, it’s not bad, and the content is still very relevant to the site. I am posting it here because I have yet to get back to the camera and do an improved version, and I want to make sure the basic principles of treatment are available to all. One final comment. I have continued to refine how I think about and talk about treatment, and now refer to intervention in 5 actions. Although the video does not specifically use this framework, I do discuss each of the five actions. If you watch the video and then check out the 5 actions link you will be good to go. Enjoy!


26 Responses to “How should we help people who struggle with addiction?”

  1. Katie Rohm says:

    I think that you’ve got it completely right. And I also really feel if you just love someone who is struggling with addiction, and try to help them in the best ways you can, following your advice they can get through it. But make sure they dont think you are angry at them because i guarantee they already feel guilty and upset enough..

  2. Matthew Wilson says:

    Really trying to help someone who is seriously addicted to a substance, and I am talking about illicit substances mainly for the most part, when the beginning stages of treatment start and even before that person is sent to treatment I think having a few of sessions with a psychologist/psychiatrist to really get to know that person and trying to pinpoint if there is any specific cause or event that happened in their life that has caused them to be where they are now. I like how you mentioned how the CRAFT approach works the best by putting them in an environment where they are comfortable and are given a reward system. I used to be addicted to cigarettes and marijuana and while quitting/cutting back it was much easier to do so when one, I stopped being around the people who did that of course, and two, having recognition/support from other peers so the reward system was effective even if it was words of encouragement. So helping people who struggle with addiction it’s good to be around them to encourage them, show them that you are caring about their progress (you can take them out somewhere or buy them something nice as a positive reinforcement), and it is work but being a monitor and being around them to make sure they don’t sneak away or fall back into the behavior, especially in the beginning stages. Because if they are craving it, then they will find a means of getting it.

  3. Kelly Kearney says:

    I agree that bullying someone into treatment or threatening them will not have a lasting long term effect of helping an addict becoming sober. I think that the idea of bringing all the different aspects of treatment that are currently out there is a brilliant idea. The question now is how do we do that? Well, we could develop a computerized system that is used (maybe such as law enforcement uses for criminals) that is available to all physicians, rehab facilities, etc. All of these should be a part of the rehabilitation process. I recently read Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and in there he talks about that even a 4 month program didn’t seem long enough for his son Nic. You also brought up having a program that would last for a year or longer which is a great answer to that problem. To help have less of a turnover for workers in the field of rehabilitation drug addicts maybe the employer can offer some incentives for staying at the job for a longer amount of time.

  4. Mariko says:

    The idea that stood out the most to me was that “Addiction is about relationships”, and when someone struggles with addiction they are deprived of the emotional growth. I think that by addressing the emotional growth of a person in treatment there is more potential to make a lasting change. This idea goes hand-in-hand with the Create step in your Manage, Resolve, Create approach. If they are able to create healthy relationships while functioning at their true emotional age, then it will be more likely they are able to realize what faults their relationship with drugs has/had.

  5. Olivia Adams says:

    While listening to this it got me thinking about how important it really is that we make healthy intimate relationships. Prior to this year, the girls that I was what I called “best” friends, we weren’t really that close. This lack of closeness with them brought feelings up in me of loneliness, sadness and disconnectedness. I felt like I didn’t really have anyone I could tell everything to. This brought me to serial date, or in other words, date a LOT of different men. I was never alone and never let myself just work on my own issues and build healthy relationships with the women I loved. This year, since my divorce, my girlfriends and I have become so incredibly close that it’s helped me become more confident in myself, speak up when I need to instead of just standing by, and to deal with problems in relationships in a more mature way. I’m still struggling on having a healthy intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex but it’s getting there. I say all this because I really love how much you stress the creation of healthy intimate relationships. It’s so important to have a happy and successful life, which is something I am just now noticing.

    Another thing that really hit home was being emotionally grown up. It’s hard at times when I’m frustrated to handle things in a mature adult manner, I’d much rather yell and call the person names or make snide comments. This strategy, however, when in disagreement, doesn’t really go over so well. It’s another area that I’ve struggled with; letting go of seemingly childish ways of dealing with problems and facing them head on like the grown woman I am.

    Both of these factors I feel like are so vital to a persons life yet we gloss over them as if they’re not and only focus on the current problem the person is having such as substance abuse. Thank you for putting these at the front line of your teaching because I think more people definitely need to not only know this but understand it.

  6. David Edgerson says:

    One of the biggest things that stuck out to me in this video was how poor the communcation is between the places that treat people. I think that if we were to work on the communcation between these places it would help out the number of relaps that we are having. Also i think it would encourage people too stay clean because they see more people are trying to help them.

  7. Nina Linskiy says:

    It amazes me that only 10% of people that struggle from drug or alcohol addiction do actually get help and a large 60% of them relapse. As you point this out it means that the current addiction treatment system does not work. Hospitals, prison system, mental health clinics, physicians and others in the system need to get connected to work together to make the real change. I think that your intervention system of managing, resolving, and creating can really help make the change. Thanks, great video!

  8. Emily says:

    I think it amazing that you have this blog first of all. I am a college student taking a Drug Education corse. It is very insightful that you are constantly changing your work and refining it. I found this video very insightful and educational. I have a few questions for you
    1) Do you think that one day we will find a way to completely cure addiction?
    2) Out of the 5 steps, which step is the most difficult to deal with.
    3) Do you think that doctors and treatment systems with become connected in the future?
    Thank you so much for posting this video. It has opened my eyes to how our current system treats addiction. This is a great example of how far we have come with treating addict but also how much work we still have to do.

  9. Mason says:

    Thank you for that video. I have been sober for 4.5 years and apart of multiple recovery programs. In these programs the importance of relationships, while seen as critical, are not often the focus. They recommend getting a sponsor and calling people but the relationship development is not addressed head on. Are there some books out there that can help with developing the ability to have healthy relationships or is it primarily done through counseling and group work? While AA and NA tend to not to refer to outside resources I will on occasion direct people in healthy directions. In my area AA does not focus a lot on the relationships between members and the growth that those can bring. The next time that I “chair” a meeting this will be the topic that I choose. It is incredible to me how much relationships have an effect even in the non-addicts life. The quality of a persons relationships has an effect on their life expectancy, their happiness level and so many other factors. The fact that this is a core aspect of recovery shouldn’t be much of a surprise, however it seems to fly in the face of many of the previous tactics that were used. This perspective has modified how I am approaching recovery with my sponsees and will effect some of my focus in recovery. Thank you.

  10. admin says:

    Emily, my answers to your questions:
    1) No, I think addiction has been around as long as humans, it is part of our experience. How we define, understand, and deal with it likely will continue to change.
    2) Probably resolve, because it requires doing emotional work that takes a lot of courage, perseverance and effort.
    3) Hopefully better than they are today.

    Best -


  11. Cherish says:

    Great video it had alot of information that gave me guidence. I agree what with what your saying when it comes to being there for the people who do struggle from addiction. But i feel that people who struggle from addiction to drugs or alcohol never really get cured of their addiction. I feel that eventuallythey find another addiction rather it be substance related or not. Do you think there is really ever a complete end to addiction?

  12. admin says:

    For some yes, but others may go their entire life having to deal with the problem. In most cases, when addiction ends permanently there has been a significant change in level consciousness…meaning a person has evolved spiritually to a level where addiction no long is an issue.


  13. Anita Curry says:

    You bring up some great points in this video about the overview of addiction and treatment.
    I come from a very long line of addicts of all sorts. One thing that you said to me really stood out. You mentioned how many people with addiction struggle more because they have the emotional development of a child. A forty year old may have the mind set of a ten year old and they need to catch up to their chronological age so that they can succeed. My mother used from about the age of 15 up until they day she died. When I was younger I did not notice a developmental difference but as I got older I was able to see that something just was not right. As I got older I noticed that her mind and decision making and rationality stayed in one spot, closer to a teenager rather than a 35-40 year old woman. Her maturity level seemed to have froze in time with the age that she spun out of control. She got help in drug and alcohol treatments several times, but she always relapsed.
    Another thing you pointed out was the option of craft: community, reinforcement, family therapy approach, which is an excellent alternative to nagging, pleading and threatening, getting patients into and competing treatment is a high of 65% as apposed to the nagging, threatening and pleading option that many people with addiction go through and their success rate is only 10%. My mom was always forced info treatment because DHS/ the state made her. The information you provided was very helpful in trying to understand addiction and treatment.

  14. admin says:

    Thanks for the feedback! The developmental issue is so important, glad to hear it stuck, as well as CRAFT.


  15. Sadie Petersen says:

    You mentioned that addiction is about relationships and that when someone who struggles with addiction takes themselves further and further away from people, they are disadvantaged to having a normal emotional growth with themselves, other people and even the world. This information didn’t come to much as a shock to me but it makes a lot more sense now because I have family members who this has happened too and I didn’t know why. I come from a really long line of addicts in my family ranging from all different types of drugs to alcohol. You mentioned that people who struggle with addiction often have the emotional development of a child. While growing up, I didn’t understand that part of it, I just thought that addicts were addicts, but it has so much more to do with it. The addicts in my family never could rationalize things or see the big picture in life. They didn’t see the point in life, or what they could get out of it. Their decision making in certain situations and how they interacted with people on a daily basis explains a lot now that I am aware of this. For my own life, I had to take a step back and let them live their lives. I couldn’t be miserable anymore because of their addiction, so finding ways to help them and live my own life instead of getting dragged down with them helped me get through a lot of situations with my family.

  16. francine Musafiri says:

    I was glad to hear from you because I learned so much and it is very true that the idea of treating someone who has a problem you need to show some kind of care otherwise it is a problem. I like how you said it it should be some kind of connection between the patients and the doctors. I think most of the time people don’t show up for treatment because they don’t feel the connection if the person who is trying to help. it is important for people to improve their method for the treatment to work.

  17. Nariman says:

    After watching your video, I learned so much about addiction and how to help an individual who is struggling with an addiction. Your video has an enlightened me about why it is important to develop a good relationship with the addict; for example so they can gain your trust, so that they are more willing to listen to and carry out your advice. After watching your video and reflecting on what you said, I think it is indeed possible to help cure them from their addiction, without feelings of shame or embarrassment. Your video has taught me valuable information about this topic, especially since I do not have much background knowledge about addiction and substance abuse. After doing more research on the subject matter, I completely agree with you that it is important to foster an intimate and personal relationship with an addict when you are trying to help them come out of their addiction.

  18. Ariana says:

    One thing that I thought was interesting was the fact that lots of individuals are trying to help people with an addiction but are doing so without talking to others who have the same goal. If there was a way to get them to discuss their treatment plans and work together I think there would be a better outcome rather than everyone trying to solve this issue their own way. It would be interesting to see if these systems became linked and worked together how it would impact the people with the addiction. However, I do not think that we can put all of the blame on the Addiction Treatment System. The individual could be doing better by getting help in different areas of treatment instead of going to only one source. But then again this gets complicated because if they have an addiction we cannot hold them to the same standard as the rest of the world who have a sound mind. Those who take the step to get help is a big deal and at least at first we cannot put a ton of pressure on them to keep getting more help. That’s why I think if the Addiction treatment system all worked together then that pressure wouldn’t be put on the patient and possibly progress could be made. This would be difficult to bring everyone together but I think it can be done.

    In response to the question “How should we help people who struggle with addiction?” I think that the best way is to be in relationship with the person and help them through their struggles. An addiction is not dealt with overnight and in order to make sure that the individual stays clean they should have someone who supports them for the rest of their life not just during a 6 month program. I have heard the phrase once you are an addict you are always an addict which I feel like is partially true and in order to help these individuals I think the best way is for them to have support and someone they can always go to.

  19. Eman Reda says:

    I really enjoyed your video. I definitely agree how you mentioned if you struggle and have problems with addiction and you’re in treatment then all of your symptoms problems tend to go down. However, when people are disconnecting from treatment the problems come back and then they relapse. I also feel one of the most important things to help addicts is having an intimate and healthy relationship. Most addicts don’t get effective or listen to their loved ones, I feel before trying to advise or help an addict we should get information or go to treatment centers. It could help a person learn more about addiction and get an understanding why addicts struggle with it, and what kind of things we can do that are going to be effective.

  20. Hannah Reda says:

    I enjoyed what you said and I strongly agree that getting through addiction is having a healthy and happy relationship with their family and friends. I believe that if a person is addicted they need to have people who are close to them so they don’t feel lonely and isolated. People need love and support and making an addict person feel complete, it might really help them get through addiction easier. I also agree with the fact that people who struggle with addiction or abuse have to go through treatment the whole way. I think psychologist and psychiatrist really need to understand were the person is coming from and understand how to help the patient and know what is really wrong with them. I feel like if the patient gets closer to the psychologist or psychiatrist they with feel more comfortable to talk and express their feelings to them.

  21. admin says:

    Thanks for the nice feedback!


  22. admin says:

    Yes, systems of care need to be better coordinated. Those who struggle can gain strength from each other via self-help groups, given they are the right fit for each person.


  23. Karl Kiest says:

    Stories like these allow addicts to realize there is a path. When trapped within addiction the future and your health do not exist. The only thing that exists is that next ‘high’. You can be told a million times that what you are doing is bad for you and will lead you down a path you do not wish to go. But sometimes that path to the bottom is the only way you can find the path back out.

  24. I enjoyed reading and listing to your video. This problem of addiction can start at an early age. I believe some people have addictive behaviors, and maybe we all do at some degree. By finding these main core factors as you have stated in your video is what is needed to establish the education and learning of consequences from an early age. Teens let’s say become obsessive with a certain substance might have this higher degree of becoming more dependent will then realize what they will face and how to handle their demeanors in a more positive way. I believe teaching kids at an early age around 13, the importance of community, and how it is their responsibility to help other is one key. When you set standards at a young age as a community, parent or responsible alder, it can reflect down to the many different channels that are needed thought a person’s life needs. Part of the USA, I believe have lost this value system which has been a downfall to many who try to build the world from the others who try to tear it down.

  25. Kevin D. says:

    I do buy into Dr. F.’s reasoning and methods. I have always felt that compassion, and understanding is the best way to get through to someone that needs help. While this all seem logical and common sense, why is the system broken and not treating addiction like this straight across the board? I have watch countless hours of shows like “Intervention” , and I feel they are doing the exact opposite. Am I interpreting these shows or this method incorrectly? I feel that most of the way society treats addiction is like a band aid. You either rip it off or leave it alone, or better yet a sink or swim attitude. Why there might be compassion imbedded in the method of writing them off if they don’t get help, I would think this method would be counter productive and produce very little desired results.

  26. Joanna B. says:

    I am very inspired by the approach mentioned in this video, as it pertains to stimulating the internal motivation/inner talents of recovering drug users and not violating their free will. The opposite of these factors are recipe for disaster, especially when it comes to treating drug addiction.

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