Helping a Friend Stop

Articles, Australia, Education, International, Understanding Addiction

If one of your friends is in need, you would be there to help him, right? Then why is is so hard to step up and help a friend when they have an addiction problem? When friends are abusing drugs, it is hard to stand up and tell them they are harming themselves. Here are some suggestions to help talk to your friends, who you think may have a substance abuse problem.

Many times we view a friend’s substance abuse problem as their problem and not ours to deal with. We see ourselves crossing a line if we bring up their problem and ask them to examine themselves. We tell ourselves they do not want us involved in this part of their life. We think we would not want someone else telling us what to do and bringing up painful realities. However, think about it this way: what if it was any other life threatening problem our pal was dealing with? Would you not want to help them then? Would you not want to get them help; the best care possible? You would ask them how they are doing, and you would want to know if there is any way you could help them. You would want someone to help you if you were in their shoes, right? Drug abuse is no different. Drug addiction is a life threatening illness like any other. So we need to put away pride and shame that surround this subject and talk to our friends about their substance abuse problem. In reality, it affects your life as much as it affects their life. Your friendship suffers and often so do other aspects of your life while your friend is using.

Sometimes, we assume we do not have the right words to say to our friends, so we choose to just keep our mouths shut. What if I do not know what to say? What if I make them mad? We tell ourselves they might never be our friend again! What if I hurt his feelings? Then, he will never forgive me! It is always hard to talk to our friends about this topic because it is personal. However, when you address the addiction, do not talk about the person; attack the problem,  not your buddy. Also, do your research to find out as much as you can about drug abuse and addiction to aid you in your conversation.

We think if our friend’s drug issue is bad enough, she would notice it, she would talk to us about it first or she would do something about it. At the very least, someone would have already said something to her. You can tell yourself you do not need to be the one to tell her. Sometimes our friends just need someone to be honest with them and talk them through the issues. Speak up and offer your thoughts in a supportive manner with your buddy if you believe she has a substance abuse problem.

Make sure you are not conversing with your friend about this matter when he has been using. It will not be effective, and you will only be wasting your breath. The situation could possibly escalate as well. Make sure to express when they have not been using and have a clear head where they are in a state of mind to listen effectively.

When you are talking to your friend, make sure you are being specific. If you are talking about certain situations, make sure to bring up definite instances that back your arguments. Remember, not to attack the person, but focus on the addiction.

Do not be surprised if your friend still is not ready for help after you approach them. Express your love for your friend and let her know you care about her. Explain this reason is why you wanted to have a conversation with her. Even if they are not responsive to your help, you can still encourage her to seek professional services for an assessment for her substance use behaviors.

Know whatever happens, you did the right thing by talking to your friend about the signs of addiction you notice in her life. By talking to your buddy, you could potentially save her life. At the very least, you have put thoughts in her head to think about in the future when she uses drugs, and, hopefully, she will begin to think of the consequences moving forward.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself too. Do not hold onto your friend’s problem as your own, and do not allow yourself to feel responsible for their behaviors, actions or reactions. You cannot make them change, and, ultimately, you cannot fix them. Find support for yourself and even talk to a professional if needed.

 

 

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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