Addiction to drugs and alcohol can touch the lives of anyone in an instant. When you have a friend that is hurting and falling deeper into the grip of addiction, all you want to do is grab their hand and pull them up. Below are eight ways you can help a friend that is suffering from addiction.
You may suspect that your friend is struggling with an addiction, but are not completely sure. The best option to root out the problem is to talk. If you notice major changes in sleeping and eating habits, unexplained mounting debt and erratic mood swings, ask them what is up. They will be more likely to give you an honest assessment, but not every addict is willing to face the problem right away. This may require more than one time. Make sure they understand you are asking out of concern for their safety and well-being.
If you are constantly asked to float your friend a loan and they are using it to buy drugs, tell them “no.” An addiction can be costly and the inability to get access to the drugs for financial reasons might help them seek treatment. Enabling those with addictions might seem like meeting the expectations of friendship, but it is compounding the problem and driving them farther from seeking treatment.
Offer to Care for Their Things While in Treatment
Inpatient treatment programs require a stay of at least thirty days. This can make your friend hesitate, especially if they do not know who will care for their kids, pets or home while away. It may seem like a monumental sacrifice in some situations, but you are showing true friendship by providing them an opportunity to get healthy again.
Find a Local Support Group
Nearly every community has a drug and alcohol addiction support group for friends and family members. Even if your friend is determined to not seek treatment, join the support group for your own benefit. They might be able to help guide you towards a way of persuading your friend to get the help they need. It is uplifting to connect with others going through the same circumstances. If there is no local support group, consider making one. There are also online groups you can join that is filled with helpful and supportive individuals.
Help Research the Best Treatment Options
Sit down with your friend and begin exploring treatment options on your smartphone or a computer. They may be more receptive to treatment if the program is in an exotic location and they can see pictures of the center. Reading about the treatment process might help soothe nerves when they are simply scared of the unknown. This provides a way of showing your friend that you are not approaching this with any sort of condemning attitude.
Provide a Non-Judgmental Listening Ear
Coming to terms with addiction and preparing to enter treatment might take a little time. It varies by individual, but some need more time to prepare than others. Keep positively encouraging and provide a listening ear that does not sound off unwarranted judgment. They should eventually become more receptive and be welcoming of the idea of being free of the addiction.
Reassure Them You Will Still Be Around Once They Return
There can be a real fear of rejection and the possibility of losing you as a friend by going away to treatment. The excessive use of drugs and alcohol can cloud judgment and even make someone slightly paranoid in thought. Keep reassuring them that you will still be around after everything is said and done. Maintain all levels of contact that are allowed. Be the one to drive with them to the treatment center and pick them up upon completion.
Be Prepared to Let the Friendship Go
You need to make sure that through it all you are able to remain strong and relatively unaffected by their bad behavior and choices. If they spiral more into drug and alcohol use or completely reject the mere thought of rehab, you may have to make some hard decisions. Begin to limit your time around them. Become more unavailable, or end the friendship altogether. You have to set healthy limits when dealing with bad and self-destructive behaviors. Never feel guilty if you have tried everything. You can always wish them well from a distance.