A Simple Guide On How To Help A Friend With An Addiction
Addiction is a complex disease that not only affects the person suffering from it but also their friends and family. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one spiral and harm themselves, but its important to remember that addiction is an illness and not a character trait.
As such, addiction should be treated with care, understanding, and support. If you have a friend who is struggling with addiction, there are some things you can do to help motivate them to get the help they need.
Keep Words And Actions Consistent
When talking with your friend, its important to keep your message clear and consistent. For instance, dont discuss how your friends drug addiction worries you, and then watch them partake in that activity. In doing so, youll 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 Im worried about your health or I noticed some difficult situations youve been facing lately.
Am I Overreacting To A Substance Use Problem
If you are noticing problems in friend or family members work, health, family, finances, relationships, social functioning, legal issues, self-esteem or self-respect, you are not overreacting.
Continuing to use substances in spite of the fact that such behavior is causing problems, is a problem in and of itself. It shows that substance use has become more important than the problems it causes. Someone who is unwilling to discuss the issue or consider whether there might be a problem is a strong indicator that a problem exists.
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Signs Your Friend May Be Addicted To Drugs Or Alcohol
If you suspect your friend is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, theres a good chance youve already observed some unusual changes in your friends mood, behavior, or physical appearance.
Some changes are more easily observed than others, however. Remember that it can be difficult to recognize certain signs of addiction, especially if you do not live with the person or see him or her on a daily basis.
Signs, symptoms, and behavioral changes used to make a diagnosis of a substance use disorder include:1
- Using a drug more often or in higher doses than originally intended.
- Needing to take more of a substance to achieve the initial effect .
- Significant amount of time spent on acquiring, consuming, and recovering from substance abuse.
- Failed attempts to change, cut back, or discontinue use.
- Neglecting responsibilities due to drug use.
- Continuing to use a substance even when it causes relationship, familial, or professional problems.
- Strong cravings for the substance.
- Withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped or reduced.
- Missed work, family events, or social activities due to drug use.
- Engaging in substance use even when it is dangerous to do so.
- Continued use despite knowing a physical or psychological problems could be exacerbated by the substance.
Though different substances may have quite distinct effects profiles, some general signs and symptoms of substance use/misuse include: 2
How To Talk To Your Friend About Their Drug Use
Drugs can be a hard subject to discuss, especially if you think your friend has a problem. Theres no right or wrong way to talk about drugs, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to make things easier.
Do speak to your friend:
- when youre both sober and not on drugs
- somewhere private and familiar
- when you have plenty of time its not a conversation you can rush
- more than once you may need to have several conversations
Dont speak to your friend in a way that:
- is judgmental or critical it wont help
- doesnt give them time to talk try to speak less and listen more
- assumes superiority dont act like you know better
Remember that you or your friend can call FRANK anytime on for confidential advice.
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Dont: Enable Your Loved One
There can be a fine line between helping someone with an addiction and enabling them. Sometimes when we think were protecting a loved one from the consequences of their addiction, we are actually enabling them to continue with potentially destructive behavior.
For example, if youre trying to figure out how to help an alcoholic, keeping them from drinking and driving is helpful, since that could put them and others in danger. However, consistently offering to drive them home whenever they get too intoxicated is enabling their actions, because its setting up a formula in which you are constantly available to rescue them.
Studies show that people with addictions are more likely to proactively seek treatment when they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. So, if you want to know how to help someone with an addiction, allow them to make mistakes without the promise of your rescue.
Its important to set up boundaries and rules, both for your well-being and the well-being of your loved one and its important to enforce those rules and boundaries. This is the only part of Recovery in which tough love is beneficial, since its done for both you and your loved ones protection.
What To Do If A Friend Relapses
Some people who go through addiction treatment will end up relapsing at least once during their recovery.5 If your friend relapses and seems to give up hope of getting better, encourage him or her to keep trying.
Do not enable their substance use or other maladaptive behaviors instead, continue to provide support and nonjudgmental concern for their well-being. Condemning or making them feel inadequate for relapsing could have the opposite effect. Instead, offer kindness, compassion, and understanding. Remind him or her that relapse is a normal part of recovery and does not mean he or she has failed.
Encourage your friend to continue to seek professional support. If he or she is not involved in any peer support groups or 12-step programs, you can help them find one. If he or she is involved, suggest that they call their sponsor for help as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, your friend may need to consider going back to treatment or trying a different form of treatment to help.
My Friend Told Me Something In Private What Should I Do
It might be that your friend takes drugs to deal with a difficult situation, or block out something thats happened in the past.
Your friend might have told you something very personal, which they dont want you to repeat, but which is related to their drug use.
If this is the case, then youll probably need to get professional help for your friend and you can do this without breaking your friends confidence by:
calling Frank anytime on for confidential advice
contacting one of the young peoples and adult drug treatment organisations in your area
Remember, you dont have to say whats happened to your friend, just that your friend needs some help with managing their drugs use.
Concerned About A Friend
Drugs can be a hard subject to discuss, especially if you think your friend or relative has a problem.
Try to stay open-minded and remember that, with the right help and support, most people overcome their use before any serious harm is caused. Also, even if you do offer support, they might not change their behaviour.
You or your friend can call FRANK anytime on for confidential advice.
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Keep In Touch And Plan Appropriate Activities
Its important to keep in touch with your friend and regularly check in on how theyre doing. This reinforces to them the fact that you care and are there to support them. Give them a call or text asking how they are, to remind them theyre not alone.
You could also take the time to plan activities for you both, as a way of touching base and helping them to spend time away from negative influences they may have in their life. If you do plan activities, make sure these are appropriate according to the type of addiction your friend is struggling with. For example, if your friend has a substance addiction, avoid going to places where they can access these.
Find Support For Yourself
Being in a relationship with a person who has a substance use disorder is often stressful. It’s important that you accept that what you are going through is difficult and seek support. There are many resources that exist for this purpose.
Consider joining a support group, for instance, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Children and teens can get support from Alateen. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a variety of resources designed to provide insight and support for families of addicts.
It’s also essential to develop stress management strategies. This is an important step in helping you help your loved one. These strategies will help you cope with the stressors you will likely encounter when helping a friend or family member seek and receive help with an addiction.
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What Is Drug Or Alcohol Misuse
Drugs are substances that affect how the body functions. Illegal drugs such as ecstasy and heroin can be harmful and unpredictable. Unlike prescription medicines, there is no government organisation that regulates the quality or amount of active ingredients in illegal substances.
However, not all drugs are illegal. Alcohol is a legal drug that can be harmful if taken in large amounts or for a long time. Medicines that have been prescribed by a doctor can also be harmful if they arent taken as directed or are taken for non-medical reasons.
Drug and alcohol misuse isnt necessarily related to how often or in what quantity a person uses drugs, but the impact their drug use has on their life. Drug or alcohol use can become a problem when it starts to affect a persons judgement, relationships or general health and wellbeing. It can cause them to neglect other responsibilities such as school, work or family.
Drug and alcohol misuse is common. About 1 in 3 people in Australia drink alcohol at risky levels. Two in every 5 people in Australia have used an illegal drug at some point in their lives, including taking pharmaceutical medicines for non-medical purposes.
If You Participate In Treatment
The process of treating addiction varies depending on the type of treatment that a person receives. If you are involved in your loved one’s treatment:
- Keep working on establishing trust. Try to evaluate where you are with trustbefore going to counseling with your loved one.
- Be honest about your feelings. Tell your loved one what their addiction has been like for you and be honest about what you want to happen next.
- Do not blame, criticize, or humiliate your loved one in counseling. Simply say what it has been like for you. Being confrontational generally doesn’t work and can damage your relationship.
- Be prepared for blame. Don’t be surprised if your loved one expresses some things you have done or said that are contributing to their addiction. Stay calm and truly listen to what they’re saying, keeping an open heart and mind.
If your loved one chooses to pursue treatment on their own:
- Respect their privacy.Do not inform friends, family, or others about your loved ones treatment without their consent.
- Respect their privacy in therapy. If they dont want to talk about it, dont push for them to tell you what happened.
- Practice patience.There are many approaches to addiction treatment, but no change happens overnight.
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Where To Find A Rehab Clinic Near You
If you have a friend thats suffering from addiction, then please give us a call today on 0203 955 7700. We can provide extra advice on what you should do as their friend. Also, you should encourage them to give us a call, and we can provide the best treatment options to help them kick this habit and live a drug-free life.
My Friend Took Drugs Once Will They Become An Addict
Most people only develop an addiction after regularly taking a drug. Its highly unlikely that anyone will develop an addiction after taking drugs once or twice or from drinking once or twice.
Some signs that a person is getting addicted to alcohol or drugs are:
- they take the drug very regularly or drink very regularly
- they take it despite trying to cut down or stop
- they lie about how much they take or take it in secret
- they keep taking it despite the harm it’s causing
- they drink or take drugs alone
- they do extreme things to get the drug or alcohol like stealing, getting into debt or faking symptoms to get prescription drugs
- they do less of the things they enjoy, because the drugs or alcohol are getting in the way
Remember that people who are addicted often dont think they are, or dont feel like they can admit it.
So if you think your friend has a problem and you want to help them, think about how you’re going to approach the topic and what youre going to say as you dont want to upset them.
And if they dont listen to you at first, dont be put off. Just give them some space and try again in a little while.
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What To Do If Your Friend Relapses
Its common for those in addiction treatment to relapse and use again. In fact, its so common that many providers now understand relapse as a normal part of the treatment process.7
As such, if your friend relapses, you can assure them that all their hard work is not lost.
You might encourage them to lean on their healthcare providers now more than ever to help understand the triggers that led them back to substance use. Relapse is not something to feel embarrassed about, but it is a time to reconnect and re-commit to treatment.
How To Talk To A Friend About Their Drug Addiction
Talking with a friend about drug addiction is never easy. As a concerned friend, loved ones ultimately want what is best for the person struggling. However, many people addicted to drugs arent ready to admit they have a problem, making it difficult to communicate concerns.
If a person believes that their friend is dealing with addiction, here are a few ways they can talk to them about it:
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Dont: Violate Their Privacy
In taking care of yourself and attending therapy, you may be tempted to vent about your loved one with an addiction. While you should be as honest about your feelings as possible when getting therapy, its important to respect their privacy. This is especially relevant when discussing someone with addiction with friends or family.
Make sure the person is okay being talked about and having their struggles discussed. If you attend counseling with your loved one, make sure you dont reveal what was said in session to others. If your loved one attends therapy or counseling on their own and dont want to discuss what they talked about in session, respect that and dont push them for details.
What If They Dont React Well To The Conversation
Talking about your concerns doesnt always work the first time. People often feel scared or ashamed, or might deny anything is wrong at all. If someone is getting angry or defensive, try and keep things calm. You might have to end the conversation. If you do want to try and have another talk with someone later on, you might want to begin by apologizing for anything that upset them before. If someone isnt willing to talk at all, remember that its not your fault. Youve tried to reach out and help, and you shouldnt feel guilty. They might not feel ready to talk about it now, but you may have made them more likely to open up in the future.
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Provide Them With Examples
Talking about the users addiction is not always easy. Unfortunately, many people who abuse substances are in denial about their behavior. For the conversation to be more effective, its best to provide the friend with specific examples related to specific concerns.
Ultimately, concerned people dont just want to tell their friends that they believe there is an issue with substance abuse. Its best to give them scenarios to help them understand their problem. For instance, the concerned individual may tell them how their behavior changes after engaging in drugs.
American Addiction Centers Can Help
Drugabuse.com is a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers , a leading provider in outpatient programs, drug and alcohol detox care and inpatient rehab programs. If you are struggling with addiction and considering detox or rehab, call our team for free to help you find the treatment you need. You can reach us at .
American Addiction Centers accepts many insurance plans and can work with you on a manageable payment plan. Find out if your insurance coverage includes addiction rehab and treatment by verifying your insurance instantly or visiting the links below:
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