We’ve all held our tongues or told little white lies to keep the peace with our friends. “Of course that outfit looks good on you,” or “No, really, I think your new girlfriend is great.” Obviously, these are harmless little things, but how involved should you get in someone else’s life when it comes to drug addiction? Do you say something and risk angering the person or losing their friendship altogether? Can you really call yourself a friend if you don’t try? Here are some suggestions for dealing with a friend with a substance abuse problem.
First of all, how can you be sure they have a problem? If you’re close to someone, it’s probably fairly easy to tell. Some of the signs of addiction are mood changes, changes in eating or sleeping habits, missing work or school, frequently asking to borrow money. If you’re already aware that someone uses drugs and worry that it’s getting worse, consider if they seem to be taking larger amounts or using more frequently, if they’re neglecting their responsibilities, and if they seem to lack motivation and enjoyment in life.
If they ask for your help, that’s great. It’s an important first step. You can be supportive by helping them research doctors or treatment centers, or just assuring them that they’re doing the right thing and you think they’re brave.
If they aren’t so cooperative, it’s not the best idea to try to force it. Despite what you’ve seen on TV, interventions aren’t always the best idea. If you become argumentative with an addict, they’re likely to get defensive and things could even turn violent. If you are determined to conduct an intervention, consider inviting other friends and the addict’s family members, and you can even call a professional who specializes in interventions.
Continue looking for treatment options. Your friend may still come around, and at least you’ll be prepared to help them. If you’re fully informed and approach them with all the information you’ve gathered, you might have a better shot at convincing them. Look for facilities that specialize in things your friend might need – for example, if they suffer from depression, make sure to check out places that offer mental health support along with substance abuse treatment.
If your friend does go into treatment, depending on the facility, you may not see them for a while. When they come out, however, they’re going to need your support. They might need somewhere to stay or help finding a job. Do what you can and what you’re comfortable with, but don’t let your own life suffer in order to help them. You can do things like helping them avoid triggers or tagging along to parties or other events as a sober buddy. Whatever you do, the fact that you’re there offering support will make a world of difference.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.