How to Support a Friend Who Is Struggling with Addiction

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It goes without saying that the world we live in creates more and more people struggling with addictions. In most cases, those people suffer from drugs, alcohol, or even medicine abuse. It is highly likely that you, too, have a friend (or two) struggling with the same issues. Whether that be your close friends, relatives, neighbors, or colleagues, it is probably difficult to talk to them about their ‘problem.’ One bad word, even from the heart, can make them defensive. Moreover, it can make their problem even worse. But, just because that is a possibility doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t confront them. If you say and do the right thing, that may be their enticement to seek help and cure themselves. And that will be our topic of the day. That is, today, we will talk about different ways you can support a friend who is struggling with addiction. 

Learn About the Addiction

One of the best things you can do to help a friend struggling with addiction is to actually learn about that addiction. Most people are unfamiliar with all the different types of addictions and how they are affecting the body. And for that reason, it is difficult for them to understand and ultimately empathize with a friend who has a problem.

Luckily, it is easy to do this. The internet is full of useful information about different addictions, their effects on the mind and body, the warning signs, the treatments, etc. So, do your best to read and learn as much as you can. And, once you do, talk to your friend about it. It will show them that you actually care!

Choose the Right Time to Have “the Talk”

We know that when a friend is defensive and unwilling to admit the addiction, it may be easier for everybody to just be silent. But, sometimes, you have to do or say something even if both of you can get hurt. Staying silent will allow your friend’s addiction to progress. And, speaking up may result in a change.

But, in order to have “the talk,” you must choose the right time and place. According to the experts from the Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, talking to people about their addiction while they are under the influence of a substance is the worst thing you can do. You should wait for everybody to be alright and then have the talk. Moreover, you should avoid those notorious interventions. Talking to somebody about their addiction should be done in private – that is how you make that person trust you.

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Don’t Hesitate to Express Your Love and Concern 

The reason why you want to support a friend who is struggling with addiction is because of love and concern. But, sometimes, when people are frustrated and don’t know what to do anymore, they start showing their love and affection in an aggressive way. Instead of talking slowly and gently, they start forcing the person to stop with the addiction and get help. This never ends well – even when there are just early signs of addiction, forcing somebody to change always results in a negative outcome. 

Thus, choose your words wisely. Choose words that show your love and concern. This will be far more effective than being aggressive, angry, or just sad. This is especially important for younger people – being emphatic is the only thing that can make them see your true emotions, which will, in return, result in a better outcome. 

Support Your Friend’s Recovery 

If you really want to support your friend, your ‘help’ shouldn’t stop once they start their treatment. Going to rehab such as California Detox is just the first step toward recovery. The road they will have to take will be long, challenging, and maybe even painful. This is when your friend will need you the most! 

There are many ways you can help your friend with recovery. For instance, one of the first things you can do together is to find the right recovery program or find an addiction expert with the right treatment. Then, once the recovery starts, you can offer a ride to the therapy sessions. Or, if your friend is in rehab, you can call and have a chat every day. Five minutes of your time can mean the world to someone with an addiction problem. 

Moreover, once the treatment or rehab is done, you should be there for your friend. You should, for example, celebrate success by going out and doing something your friend enjoys. But, be careful – you mustn’t use drugs or alcohol in front of them as that may encourage them to relapse! 

What Not to Do to a Friend Struggling with Addiction 

Until now, we focused on the things you should do to help a friend who is struggling with addiction. But, now, let us focus on what you absolutely mustn’t do. For instance, you shouldn’t be the one to preach – don’t try to lecture, moralize or even threaten the friend as that will push him (or her) away from you. Similarly, don’t try to set ultimatums! Don’t argue, don’t offer money, don’t cover up for anybody, and most importantly, don’t join in. 

We know there are a lot of don’ts here, but they are all crucial when trying to help a friend suffering from an addiction. These are also crucial when trying to help a loved one suffering from a mental illness too! Saying or doing one bad thing can make their condition a lot worse. 

As you have seen, there are many things you can do to support a friend who is struggling with addiction! The best thing you can do is to educate yourself about everything we mentioned so far and do your best to express your love and support.