How To Help A Friend Who Has A Drug Addiction

In early August, the opioid crisis was declared an emergency by President Trump. This declaration emphasizes the magnitude of drug addiction currently plaguing the lives of Americans across the United States. The face of addiction isn’t limited to people that are poor or living in bad conditions. An addict can be your next-door neighbor, your best friend, or even a family member. When you realize someone close to you has an addiction there are some ways you can help them. Keep in mind that you can never force someone to get help and that the person must want to get better on their own. But, it doesn’t hurt to try and help someone with an addiction.

7 Ways to Help a Friend Who Has a Drug Addiction

When you try to help out a friend who has a drug addiction it takes a lot of patience and effort. Many people are unsure of the best way to help. Below we compiled a list of helpful actions you can take to help a friend in need. Not every action is going to be successful. However, it’s worth it to help your friend beat their drug addiction.

  1. Use Compassion

    Compassion is something many people with an addiction don’t see enough of when they really need it. When you’re with your friend and bring up their addiction make it a no-judgment zone. This gives your friend the ability to share their problems freely without the fear of being judged. In the presence of judgment, there is denial and defensiveness that hinders any ability to help. It’s recommended to meet your friend in a safe and neutral place when discussing their drug addiction.

  2. Don’t Support or Enable the Addiction

    There is a fine line between helping out a friend and enabling their addiction. Be aware of the favors your friend asks you for so you don’t end up enabling their addiction. They may ask you for some pills for joint pain when it’s really pills to fuel their addiction. Additionally, they may ask for a small amount of cash for any number of things. When you know your friend has an addiction it’s better to be wary of why they want money. If they say it’s for food then buy them a meal directly. Pay directly for the things they ask to borrow money for. That way you know it’s not going towards drugs.

    A lot of times social events or activities are the biggest triggers for addictions. Don’t invite your friend to a party or event that would have tempting substances for them. Also, note the people that cause them the most stress and prove to be a bad influence. Try to avoid those type of people during this time to help your friend. If there is a big party going on that would make your friend’s addiction worse find something else to do. By putting your friend in a healthier environment you’re supporting their recovery, not their addiction.

  3. Urge (Don’t Push) Them to Tell a Professional or Significant Other

    Many addictions start because people are not getting the help they need for a physical ailment or mental disorder. Instead of seeking the necessary professional help people tend to self-medicate believing they’re in full control. Before they know it, they have an addiction that’s extremely hard to kick. Even if your friend begins to recover from their addiction they still have a higher chance of relapsing if their physical or mental problems aren’t properly addressed. Urge them to seek professional help to get the right treatment or medication for their problems.

    Moreover, there is a high chance that your friend’s significant other has no clue about their addiction. Addicts are particularly good at hiding their addictions from those they love most. In order to receive the help they need your friend needs to come clean to their significant other because that’s where the largest amount of their support for recovery will come from. Never push your friend to come forward about their addiction because it may backfire and scare them into hiding the addiction even more. This is another place where compassion is needed in place of tough love.

  4. Help Them Manage Withdrawal

    Please note that withdrawals have the ability to be dangerous and harmful for people if they don’t receive professional help. Understand the withdrawal process before helping your friend go through it. Find out the exact drugs your friend used frequently because different drugs have different withdrawal symptoms. Remember you’re not a professional so don’t try to do any actions that are better left to a hospital staff or doctor. The main way you can help a friend going through withdrawal is by cooking meals, helping around the house, and completing their usual daily duties. Withdrawal tends to be an extremely painful process for people and just being there to support your friend is help enough.

  5. Encourage Them

    Once a person is brought face to face with their addiction they begin to feel guilty. A lot of addicts feel weak, stupid, and hopeless for letting their addiction consume them. This is a time they need to be reminded that facing their addiction is the first step to getting their life back on track. A lot of addicts start feeling bad about themselves when they remember the actions they did due to their addiction. Remind them that they’re finally taking action and getting the help they need for themselves and their loved ones. Words of encouragement go a long way during this delicate time for addicts and these words may give your friend the courage to continue on their path to recovery.

  6. Compile a List of Resources

    As a friend of an addict, it’s good to know the resources that would be helpful for dealing with addiction. These resources provide the tools for you to really be there for your friend and understand the best ways to help them. One place to start would be to go over a drug addiction test (without calling it that) with them. By listing off behaviors from a test it might open their eyes to the addiction. Additionally, know a handful of addiction hotlines that could be useful for your friend and pass along the information. The National Institute On Drug Abuse is a great resource for all kinds of information on addiction and the best ways to get help. Also look up organizations that are local to your area for close and immediate help for your friend.

  7. Encourage Your Friend to Enter Rehab, Therapy, or a Program for Their Addiction

    When an addict finally seeks help for their addiction they’re faced with the overwhelming decision on the exact actions to take. Trying to find the right place or way to help themselves may cause stress that thwarts their efforts to get better. Plus, there is only so much you can do as their friend. In order to really treat their addiction, your friend must seek professional help. Whether it’s an addiction support group, a therapist, or a rehabilitation center they need a wide network of people that know the best ways to help them get better. At Meridian, we have a large network of knowledgeable staff members to help people struggling with addiction. People that enter our facility become a part of our family and we find the best ways to help them recover.

Remember that helping someone with an addiction is not easy. It’s possible they won’t want your help at all. Don’t give up on them. Your friend is in a place where they need someone to keep trying. If you have the ability to help them be patient and try your hardest. Some of these helpful actions you take to help them might even make them angry at first. But, eventually, once they do finally get the help they need, they will truly appreciate your help on their path to recovery.

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