Watching a friend struggle with a drug addiction can be overwhelming and heartbreaking. You want to help, but you’re not sure how. Different scenarios of how to approach your friend’s drug addiction may run through your mind: What if you say the wrong thing? Is it the right time to say something? What if it ruins your friendship?
Talking about addiction sooner rather than later can make a difference in a friend’s treatment and recovery.
A drug addiction is complex. Its effects can linger over months or years and trigger other problems down the road. Oftentimes, a person struggling with an addiction will distance themselves from family, friends, and the activities that used to bring them pleasure. It’s also the time they most desperately need the support and guidance of those around them.
Don’t wait. Talk with your friend about their drug addiction and help them get their life back on track.
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Helping A Friend With A Drug Addiction
There’s no exact formula for telling you how to talk to a friend who’s suffering from a drug addiction. However, other people in similar situations have shared their stories on how they got the conversation started.
Here are the top 5 things to keep in mind when talking to a friend about addiction:
Talk When They’re Sober
Initiate a conversation when your friend is sober. If they’re under the influence of drugs during the discussion, they are less likely to be understanding of the matter.
Set a time where just the 2 of you can talk. Discuss your concerns, but understand the conversation is a 2-way street. Give your friend time to voice their feelings and listen to what they have to say. Your goal is to bring awareness about their addiction, not accuse them of wrongdoing.
Sometimes specific scenarios can provide a clear explanation for your concerns. For example, maybe you and your friend attended a party together where they took drugs. You may have been responsible for making sure your friend got home safely and saw firsthand the negative consequences of their drug use.
You may even be able to discuss how their behavior changes after using a certain drug. Be honest about what you enjoy when your friend is sober and how circumstances change after they use the drug.
Show Love And Support
Let your friend know you’re always there for them no matter what. Your unconditional love will express that you have their best interest at heart.
Realize, however, that your love and support doesn’t mean you should act as a doormat to anything your friend does or says. Set boundaries on not hanging out when they use drugs. Explain how your friend’s addiction makes you feel. If you ignore their drug use, they won’t see any reason to overcome it.
Keep Words And Actions Consistent
When talking with your friend, it’s important to keep your message clear and consistent. For instance, don’t discuss how your friend’s drug addiction worries you and then watch them partake in that activity. In so doing, you’ll send a confusing message that can complicate matters.
Additionally, be sure to steer clear from making accusations and criticizing. Rather than jump to conclusions, show empathy in their situation. Being aggressive will only make your friend feel defensive. Instead, try using phrases like “I’m worried about your health” or “I noticed some difficult situations you’ve been facing lately.”
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Lecturing your friend on the negatives surrounding addiction will only increase their anxiety. Instead, try talking about the benefits of treatment and living sober. Offer to help research treatment options and various community resources available.
Provide reassurance when they participate in counseling, support groups, and other recovery services. Sometimes your friend may need a shoulder to lean on or an ear to whisper into. Taking an interest in their long-term recovery and sobriety plan will encourage them to keep going when times get tough.
If your friend is ready to overcome their drug addiction, there are various treatment options available. As their friend, stand beside them during both the good and difficult times that treatment may bring. It can truly make all the difference in a person’s life.
Recovering from a drug addiction takes time and commitment; with a comprehensive treatment plan, success is possible.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
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