If you have a friend who’s showing signs of addiction to drugs or alcohol, you probably want to help. Understanding the best ways to approach your friend’s issues and realizing the importance of standing by them during this difficult time is the beginning of being a true friend.
How to Talk About the Difficult Subject of Addiction
When you’re worried about a friend’s addiction, you may find it challenging to bring up the subject. Fortunately, by following a few simple guidelines, you can broach this touchy subject.
- Tell them you care. Start your conversation by telling your friend how much you care about them and how concerned you are.
- Have the conversation when your friend is sober. If your friend is drunk or high, it’s not time to talk about their addiction. In addition, avoid having this talk at a bar or at a place where drugs or liquor are available.
- Avoid being judgmental. Questions about the motives behind your friend’s addiction are best left for their therapy sessions. Don’t judge them or lecture them. Understanding that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing, is an excellent place to start.
- Focus on what your friend cares about most. Maybe your friend is at risk of losing their marriage, kids, or job. By showing them the effect their addiction is having on these things they care about, you may get through to them.
- Be prepared to suggest practical help. If your friend acknowledges that they need help, you should be ready to suggest treatment resources in your community. Do a little research before you talk so you can offer practical ideas.
How to Tell A Friend They Need Help
The most delicate part of a conversation about addiction is telling your friend they need help. The most effective way to get this point across is not to lecture or make threats but to keep repeating a simple message: “I care about you. Please get some help.”
Blaming your friend for their addiction is unlikely to set them on the right path, and blaming others for the problem doesn’t help. Getting drawn into your friend’s denial of their addiction or rationalization about it also isn’t helpful. Just stick to your simple message: you care, and they need help. Take along another friend or family member if you think it will help. You may also want to consider staging an intervention with the help of addiction professionals.
How to Help a Friend Find the Help They Need
The type of treatment your friend needs may vary depending on how severe their addiction is. They may need anything from inpatient rehab to joining a 12-step group. If you’re not a healthcare professional specializing in addiction, you’re probably not in a position to determine the level of help needed — but you can point them in the right direction.
Do some research about the addiction treatment options available in your community so you can present your friend with resources. Referring your friend to a rehab program, health care professional, or substance abuse counselor is an excellent first step.
How to Stand by Your Friend During the Recovery Process
Recovery can be a daunting process for your friend. They may believe that if they become sober, they’ll lose their friends, or they may think you will shun them if you understand the full scope of their addiction.
You can support them by learning about addiction and recovery. Be ready to propose new things to do together that don’t involve drinking or drugs. Your belief that they can and will get better is likely one of the most important ways to support them. Having friends and family alongside them is a proven key to success during recovery.
We have the resources you need if you’re looking for a way to help someone you love with their addiction recovery. Contact us at Baystate Recovery Center to learn how you can best help your friend.