Watching a friend struggle with drug or alcohol addiction can be painful and frustrating, but there are ways for you to offer help and support. Although you can’t ultimately force anyone to seek treatment, you can make it easier for your friend to reach that decision on their own and get the help they need. In order to do so, you’ll need to keep certain things in mind. Here are 5 ways you can help an addicted friend.
Talk to Someone You Trust
Before approaching your friend about their addiction, consider talking to someone you trust. Let the person know that you want the conversation to be confidential until you’re ready to talk to your friend. They can provide you with reassurance and, if necessary, help you get in touch with a doctor or other professional who can help your friend.
Time It Right
When you feel comfortable talking to your friend, don’t approach them when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Wait until they are sober, so it will be easier to talk to them about their problem. This also helps ensure that your friend will remember your conversation and take your offers of support to heart.
Let your friend know why their behavior concerns you and why you believe they have been drinking too much or using drugs. If possible, bring up specific times where their behavior or actions concerned you the most. Talk to your friend about how that makes you feel and why you think it’s important for them to get help. Whatever you do, though, don’t call them a drug addict or an alcoholic or throw accusations at them. Keep the conversation calm and talk to your friend in a caring tone, and they will be more likely to listen to you.
Listen to Your Friend
If your friend is willing to talk to you about their alcohol or drug use, stay quiet and listen to everything they say. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, it’s important not to judge them. Just letting your friend talk shows them that you’re there for them, which could end up encouraging them to admit that they are struggling with addiction. Keep in mind that your friend might deny that they have a problem. If this happens, it’s time to move to the next step.
Your friend’s addiction might prevent them from fully realizing or understanding how alcohol or drugs are affecting them. If this is the case, share information on what the substance they are using is doing to their mind and body. You can find this info through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, along with other facts and statistics on drug and alcohol use. There’s no guarantee that this will convince your friend that they need help, but it should serve as an eye opener for them.
If you’re at least able to get your friend to admit that they have a problem, then you’ve already done a lot for them. Once your friend is aware that they need help, they are more likely to look into treatment for addiction or turn to their family and others who can help them. Keep in mind that your friend will also still need your encouragement and support throughout the recovery process, so making sure those lines of communication stay open is important.
If you think your friend needs help, don’t hesitate to contact us. The call is free and confidential.
Bellum, S. How to Help a Friend in Need. National Institute on Drug Abuse: NIDA for Teens. Sept. 2009. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need Brown University Health Education. Talking to a Friend About Drinking or Drug Use.
http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/alcohol,_tobacco,_&_other_drugs/how_to_help_a_friend.php National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drug Facts. NIDA for Teens. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts