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Over 20 million people suffer from drug and alcohol abuse issues in the United States.

Clearly, addiction is an epidemic that afflicts the nation. The U.S.A, long thought to be one of the most advanced nations on earth, shows drug and alcohol abuse statistics raising on a significant scale.

The United States may be the leading country for drug and alcohol abuse, but there is hope and help.

Jeff Jay, author of a book called Love First: a Family’s Guide to Intervention said: “just as CPR is often the first life-saving step in helping a heart attack victim, intervention is the most powerful step the family can take to initiate the recovery process.”

If you need to know how to confront an addict in your life, read on.

When to Confront an Addict

The best time for you to confront an addict is right now. Addiction is progressive. If untreated, it always gets worse, inflicting increasingly-more-negative consequences upon the addict and his or her family and friends. Addiction is ultimately fatal unless there is recovery.

Pop culture often portrays people who “hit bottom” before they can be helped. This is a myth. People can be helped at any stage.

Research shows that early identification is a more effective solution for substance abuse.

Prepare to Confront

While learning how to confront a family member on drugs or another loved one is difficult, it’s also necessary.

The first thing you need to do is to prepare. If you have carefully prepared, you will have more information to use when confronting your family member or friend.

Read about the signs and symptoms of substance use. Monitor the person’s behavior over the course of some days or weeks.

This information will help you if you decide to seek advice from a professional as well as when you address the individual.

However, you don’t need the full picture of the problem before you take action.

Talk with other family members and friends about the situation. If they agree there is a problem, figure out who will talk to the person about getting help.

Do some research. Find out what addiction recovery programs are available. Look into residential treatment for example.

You could even pre-registering the individual in a program.

How to Confront an Addict

The most important thing about how to confront an addict is to keep calm. You need to present a factual case to the addict who will likely try to wave away your concerns. Don’t let yourself be drawn into an argument.

Focus on how their addiction makes you feel. Be honest and specific about your feelings. State the facts and what you have observed.

Addicts often don’t see how their actions impact others. The person might be in denial. By showing concrete examples of how their specific actions have impacted your feelings, it can help remove some of that denial.

Confront the addict when they’re sober. This might be first thing in the morning, right after they wake up.

Remember to listen, not just talk. It can be helpful to listen. This will help the addict feel like they can trust you and that you care.

Emphasize that you wanted to have this conversation because you’re concerned about his or her well-being.

Your goal in confronting an addict is not to convince the person that there is a problem, but rather to let the individual know that you believe there is a problem based on your observations.

Don’t expect a dramatic change immediately; this talk may be the first time the person has thought about this problem.

Keep in mind that there is no quick fix – prepare yourself for a long road ahead.

Set boundaries to protect your home, finances, and relationships. Make sure to stick to those limits even if it is hard. This is tough love.

Plan an Intervention

Often the best way to learn how to confront an addict is to stage an intervention with the help of a professional therapist or interventionist.

This allows a group of loved ones to jointly plan what to say when confronting an addict.

Write down everything you plan to say. Take notes to help you remember the most important parts of your message.

Ensure that everyone involved will be safe. If there is a possibility of physical violence, make a safety plan.

Do not let the addict know the intervention is being planned.

The intervention team needs to meet well in advance of the actual date of the confrontation to plan their united message that they want to convey as a group.

Stage an Intervention

Set a specific time, date, and location for the planned intervention.

Everyone needs to meet at the set location before the addict arrives.

When the substance abuser arrives, take turns speaking to the addict.

Each person must list specific examples of how their life has been negatively affected by the addictive behavior – “I felt betrayed when you…” etc.

Next, each intervener needs to clearly tell the substance abuser what specific consequences will come about if the addicted person refuses treatment.

If the addict refuses treatment, then each person needs to enforce their previously-stated consequences. Do not respond if the addict begs, tries to bargain with you or makes threats.

To assist the person to get help, you might want to tell them ways you would be willing to help make it easier – for example providing transportation or childcare.


Family involvement in drug and alcohol rehab is essential to a successful recovery.

While the addict is in rehab, he or she should get the most support possible from all family members.

Need help with how to confront an addict? Our professionals are ready to help your loved one find a path to recovery. Contact us.