Help heroin addict get help and recover

Helping a heroin addict requires you get past your anger. More here on where to get educated, take care of yourself and make plan to help a heroin addict.

minute read

When you first discover that a loved one is using, has snorted heroin or is addicted to heroin, the feelings of confusion, fear, and powerlessness can be overwhelming:

  • How did this happen?
  • What can I do to help?
  • Can a person ever overcome heroin addiction?

The answers to these questions are not easy. Much like other disease or illness, proper treatment is not always the same for every person. Although the road to recovery can be long and treacherous with many detours, recovery is possible, and you can help in the process.

The first (and often hardest step) in helping a heroin addict

1. Get past your anger. Being angry doesn’t lead to recovery, and can possibly make things worse. As family members or friends, we feel that we are doing the right thing when we point out all of the addict‘s faults. We want them to see the hurt they’re causing. We want to open their eyes to the reality of their disease. However, once we identify heroin addict, the more guilt and shame we place on the addict, the more likely he or she will keep using drugs in order to cover up those feelings.

So how do you work past the anger?

2. Get educated. It’s difficult to help another person when you don’t understand the problem. Addiction can affect anyone. You don’t have to have a genetic predisposition, you don’t have to come from a dysfunctional childhood, and you don’t have to lack moral standards in order to fall under the spell of addiction.  In fact, there is no general description for what heroin addicts look like.  It’s important for family and friends to break past the myths, misunderstandings, and stigma that surround addiction and learn the truth.

Through Al-Anon, the internet, and the library, you have endless resources to gain the knowledge needed to understand your loved one’s challenge ahead. I have found, through my own experience with a loved one’s addiction, through understanding comes forgiveness. That is when the healing can begin.

3. Get yourself help. You can’t control the addict in your life — but you can control your own behavior. The best thing you can do if you want to help a loved one struggling with addiction is get to an Al-Anon meeting. The people there can give you the best specific advice on how to handle your unique situation. Through Al-Anon you will also learn the tools to set healthy boundaries.

Helping a loved one with addiction is very different from helping a loved one with any other illness. Anything you do in order to ease their pain will only extend the disease, making it stronger. As long as you are going to be there to hold the addict’s hand, bail him or her out of jail, fix their mistakes, and make life easier, your loved one will never see the need to fight their disease. This is one of the hardest concepts for family and friends to accept.

4. Get advice from experts. Withdraw from heroin can cause extreme symptoms including restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, kicking movements, muscle and/or bone pain. In some cases, sudden withdrawal can be fatal. If your loved one agrees to stop using heroin, it would be wise to seek help from a treatment center or doctor.

The longer a person has been using heroin, the more difficult sustained recovery can be. Contrary to popular belief — an addict does not have to hit rock bottom before getting treatment. One effective way you can help break the cycle is through an intervention. A good treatment program can help you with that process.

While recovery can be difficult, and relapse is often a part of the disease, sustained recovery is achievable. If you can get past the anger, get educated, get yourself help, and get advice from experts, you can be on the road to helping your loved one stop the cycle of heroin abuse.


About the author
Lisa Espich is the author of the multi award-winning book, Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams. For additional articles, resources, and a free preview chapter of Soaring Above Co-Addiction visit her website. Her book is available at bookstores everywhere and at Twin Feather Publishing.


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  1. I’m seeking help for a love ono using herion Please send me information for philadelphia or new jersey. Thank you

    1. Hi Angela. Call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7.

  2. I need too detox ASAP TODAY off her I on and alcohol I’m homeless broke and have no insurance no detox centers will accept me,my last hope is going to my community hospital but I need to at least me there in a bed 5 days cause I shoot up her I on past 3 years and drinking year straight if I don’t get inn today I will loose my only chance at the rehab I got accepted inn is it most likely the community hospital will refuse me or is there any advice you could give me cause no matter what if they refuse and I start with drawling someone is gonna find me on streets physically having horrible with drawls we’re not physically able to take care of myself and more than likely call 911 so any suggestions or think they will refuse me I need to know before going inn and also it’s my last hope

  3. Hi Deborah. I’d suggest that you call the National Drug Abuse Hotline for an answer to this question. It’s a free government service that can refer you to information applicable to your city and state. Each state has different laws governing the limits of drug abuse. Their number is 1-800-662-HELP.

  4. My daugther was 16 when placed in a residential facility for her heroin addiction. We turned 17 four days after placement. We just had her home for her first visit during this holiday season. Right under our nose, she relapsed. She is back at the residential center but we only have 3 months before she turns 18 and then I know she will walk. What do we do? Do we have any rights to keep her in treatment longer? Was her relapse a part of the recovery process? Our hope is fading

  5. I struggled with heroin addiction for many years before finally achieving sobriety. I am familiar with the pain and agony associated with drug use that affects the individual sufferers as well as their families. I am glad more resources are popping up throughout the country to help people in need. If you are looking for help check out New Life House. It is where is got the foundation for my successful recovery.

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