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Three ways to help someone stop their cocaine use

By Tim Woodley

A friend or loved one is using cocaine and you want to help. You are deeply concerned about their wellbeing and the effect their use is having on them and others. But how to do it?

Approaching and confronting a person in the throes of problematic cocaine use or growing dependency isn’t easy, and there’s a real possibility of driving them away if you mishandle the process. The good news? Being aware of a few guiding principles before you pull the trigger can and will help.

Today we’re covering three of these points. If you’d like more support and guidance on how to best support a loved one battling drug and alcohol misuse, you can also visit our regularly updated blog section. We also encourage you to get in touch with the team directly for personal advice by calling us on 0208 191 8920.

Understand the mindset

It’s important to understand and appreciate the mindset of a person who is using cocaine. We’ve covered in previous articles how problematic drug use thrives in isolation. Despite the popular image of cocaine being that of a party drug, many use the substance in private. Worse still, most find that they are using more of it, using it more frequently and equally importantly finding they can’t stop using it for any length of time.  

Beyond the use itself, the reality of problematic use and the decline of self-care is similarly held close by the person using cocaine. Careers are sacrificed, social circles are left and connections wither as the drug of choice rises in priority. In many cases, there’s a strong subconscious aspect to problematic cocaine use wherein the individual is compelled towards continued use for reasons they aren’t entirely aware of in the moment. Common examples of this include childhood abuse, trauma, stress, performance anxiety and self-esteem issues which are exceptionally prevalent in those struggling with any form of problematic drug use.

Be prepared for a mood swing

Escalating cocaine use can understandably be a shameful secret. Even a mild-mannered person who is using cocaine more and more may react strongly and aggressively to someone who challenges them and seeks to expose this truth to others – even if it’s in an effort to help them stop the damage they are doing to themselves and others.

Knowing this, it’s important to be prepared for a sudden shift in behaviour when addressing a loved one’s cocaine use. Practically speaking, you can help to keep yourself safe and secure by ensuring you have a way out of your confrontation before you do it, be that by hanging up the phone or knowing you can leave the house and drive away if the situation gets heated.  


Timing is everything

Substance abuse isn’t the same across every drug in existence, and it’s helpful to appreciate how cocaine affects the mind and body of the user. We touched on this in more detail in our recent article on common signs of cocaine abuse.

When it comes to helping a loved one who is abusing cocaine, keep in mind that timing is critical. There’s little use confronting them when they’re high; they’re likely to be argumentative and unreceptive to a meaningful and challenging discussion – two facts which are made worse by how energised and active they will be when high.

If you’re looking to talk to them on the level and make progress in helping them quit, you’ll find your best results to lie in the periods between binges. Give them a day if possible, let them sleep and sit down and talk with them when they’re more stable emotionally, physically and mentally.

Your support matters

It can be intimidating to consider confronting a loved one in an effort to help them beat their cocaine use. In closing today, the Help Me Stop team would like to simply remind you that being available and supportive is one of the most powerful things you can do. Support networks of friends and loved ones who care and take informed action are tremendously powerful in helping a person beat their cocaine use, and we commend you for considering how to best do just that.

Chris Cordell*, Help Me Stop’s general manager says that “a huge percentage of calls we get are from the concerned others of people using cocaine – partners, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, the list is endless. Every one of them is coming from a position of love but also despair as they just don’t understand what to do, what to say or why their loved one can’t see the damage they are doing to themselves or others and why they just can’t stop. The good news is that thousands of people do stop every day and that psychological programmes such as ours do work if the individuals are brave enough to take a leap of faith”.

Help Me Stop provides a groundbreaking face to face non-residential rehab programme in London which opens once more on June 15th. You can find more details about it here. We also offer an online Digital Dayhab programme which is affordable, intensive, effective and available right now.

To speak to the team directly about these programmes or any other way we may be able to help you, please use our contact form or use the aforementioned phone number 0208 191 8920. Take care.

*Chris is a senior associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Certified International Recovery Specialist, and a member of the International Society of Addiction Medicine.