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February 2, 2020

How to Help a Friend Overcome an Addiction Issue

When someone reaches out to us for help, all we want is to make them better, but addiction is not a problem you can solve for someone else. The only way your friend can truly overcome substance abuse is to want it and pursue it themselves. However, support from loved ones is one of the most important parts of recovery. There are several things you should know if you’re helping someone recover from addiction.

Communication Is Key

It's not uncommon for people with a substance use disorder to lash out and become defensive. They may be living in denial, or they're using anger to cover up their shame. Either way, confrontation is not the way to help, so you have to pay close attention to the quality and nature of the conversations you hold. Never bring up their addiction when they're under the influence. This will lead nowhere, and it's more likely to escalate into an argument. You may also wind up driving the person further from you emotionally. When you talk to your friend, make sure that you lead with compassion and concern. Don't tell them, "Your drinking is out of control." Ask them, "Is everything alright?" Say, "I care about you, and I want to help in any way I can."

Support Yourself

Dealing with a friend's addiction can take a lot out of you. Their struggles may lead to depression or anxiety. Look for local substance abuse support groups. There are many that are designed just for family and friends of people with an addiction. Attending these group meetings can give you much-needed support from people who are also trying to help a loved one with substance abuse. You can also gain valuable education about the problem.

Symptom Severity

Substance abuse runs on a spectrum, and the severity of a person's substance use disorder will impact how they respond to treatment. One of the biggest reasons people avoid getting help is their fear of withdrawal. According to Transformations Treatment Center, many factors affect the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, particularly the type of drugs involved and how long the person has been using them. You should not encourage your friend to just quit cold turkey. Instead, offer to help them find a rehab program and drive them there.

Avoid Enabling

People trying to help a friend with addiction sometimes contribute to the problem. Love Over Addiction says that enabling addiction comes in many forms. You may give your friend money, cover for them when they miss work, offer them a place to stay after they lose their house, or even buy drugs or alcohol for them. Helping someone shows them how much you care, and if they can see that, maybe they'll be inspired to get help, right? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Enabling addiction only makes it easier for the person to continue their substance abuse.

Addiction affects so much more than just the individual. Watching a friend struggle with addiction can make you feel helpless and even as though you've failed them somehow. However, your friend needs more help than you can provide them with. Don't hesitate to reach out to local rehab programs and ask for advice. Professional suggestions can help you figure out the best way you can guide your friend to the help they need.

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