What can or should you do when you have a friend with addiction? You may feel like there is something you should do to help them get back on track. But what? How do you get involved? And, are you ready to get that involved? Starting down the assistance and support road is a decision you must not make lightly. It can be as difficult and weigh on you as it does on your friend.
Note: The first and most important thing to remember is that all addiction situations are different, and no advice you read on a web page is a reasonable substitute for the help and advice that an expert can give. We will connect you with such an expert at the bottom of this page
Why Wouldn’t You Want to Help A Friend With Addiction?
When facing the situation where a friend is addicted, you might feel reluctant to get involved. Perhaps they have betrayed a trust and done something while under the influence that hurt you. Maybe you think it isn’t your place to interfere and that someone else will take steps to help. Perhaps you are afraid of becoming too involved in their life.
All three are normal, human reactions. But, since addiction is a leading cause of death, doing nothing isn’t an option if the person is indeed a treasured friend. Acting early in the cycle of addiction can reduce the likelihood of serious injury, disease, or death.
If you have been hurt or betrayed in the past, put those feelings behind you. Be alert to similar situations and avoid them. Addicts can be manipulative and may use their friendship as a means of feeding their addiction rather than ending it.
Take It One Step at a Time
The first thing you must do is establish two-way trust. You may have reason to distrust your friend with addiction because of past behavior. They may feel distrustful of you or people in general. If they do not see their addiction as an issue, they are less likely to trust offers of help.
To help with establishing and maintaining this mutual trust, avoid the following:
- Nagging, criticizing, and lecturing your friend to stop abusing and get help.
- Engaging in the actions you are trying to get them to stop, even in moderation.
- Losing your cool and resorting to name-calling, yelling, or making exaggerated claims.
Be aware that your friend may not believe they have a problem or want to change. Or, because nothing terrible has happened to them because of their addiction, they may not see the need to change. They may also be suspicious of your intentions. They may feel you are trying to “control” them and will resist your efforts. The best advice is to go slowly, stay calm, and build trust. Finally, communicate clearly and often, emphasizing your concern and wish to help.
Pick Your Battles Wisely
When you choose to talk to a friend with addiction is as important as what you say and how you say it. You are not going to make much headway when they are under the influence of a substance. Where you decide to talk about your concerns is another critical consideration. Avoid spots like bars or other places where alcohol or other addictive substances are available. Avoid places and situations that are upsetting or disturbing to your friend. A neutral, low-stress environment is preferred, perhaps a park or a coffee shop.
Develop and Refine Your Message
This may sound like a marketing plan and, in a sense, it is one. You are trying to “sell” your friend with addiction on the idea that life is better when they are clean or sober. If you understand why your friend is abusing, you can develop a more effective argument for taking steps to end the addiction. Talk to them about how addiction has changed their life, how they don’t do the things they once loved, how they are hurting those around them, or how it is impacting their career.
You may notice that there isn’t any mention above of what your friend’s addiction is doing to them. That’s because they may not care what it is doing. They may be intentionally bent on self-destructive behavior. However, there are still things they care about. Find those and help them realize the harm they are doing there.
We Can Help You Help Your Friend with Addiction
Before you start an effort to help a friend with addiction, you should also be aware of the treatment options available in your area. In Southern California, Carus Recovery Center offers a premier residential recovery program in a beautiful, upscale suburban setting. We have a wide range of plans and services and can help you succeed in getting your friend off their addiction. But the most important thing you can do now is just talking with someone for some expert advice. Contact us today or call 877-225-7724 and let’s talk.