It can feel hopeless when you have a friend struggling with addiction. They are fighting, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Or so it seems.
Addiction is a very personal problem, and it’s one demon that a person must overcome themselves. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely powerless. The best way you can help a friend overcome the battle with addiction is by playing a supportive role.
Here are a few ideas you can practice to help your friend overcome the battle with addiction.
Learn about the problem
There’s a stigma that surrounds addiction because most people don’t understand the problem. One of the biggest misconceptions is that addiction is the addict’s fault. It’s an understandable misconception, especially when a person gets caught up with recreational drug use. But even in this case, addiction isn’t your friend’s fault.
You see, your friend may have made the initial choice to use an addictive substance, but at some point, addiction rewired his or her brain. We’ve all made bad choices. But the rest of us are fortunate enough to have retained our decision-making power. Your friend wasn’t as lucky, but it’s not his fault.
With the understanding that addiction isn’t your friend’s fault, try to approach every situation with compassion. It may seem like this is how your friend wants to live, but it isn’t. They aren’t proud of their choices, and any judgment only compounds the problem. Imagine if you were in this situation, making choices that seem to be beyond your control. You don’t have to condone their behavior, but it can help you to show some compassion in your dealings with someone who is addicted.
Have a talk
In order to address the problem, you must first get it out in the open. Regardless of how obvious you think the problem may be, you still must talk about it. Addicts are very likely to lie about their addiction, and they may even lie when they’re presented with undisputable facts.
Still, you must let this person know that you are aware of what’s happening. Tell him or her that you understand it has gotten out of control, and you only want to help.
They may not be ready to make any major changes yet. Your friend may even still be in denial. That’s okay. Regardless of what happens or how ugly the conversation gets, let your friend know that you’re there for them when they’re ready. In an addict’s darkest moments, it helps to know they have someone in their corner.
Research treatment options
Whenever your friend decides to get help, it’s best if you can act immediately. If you already have a treatment facility in mind, the transition should go more smoothly. You should know that it takes a lot more than deciding to get clean to be successful. In order for an addict to recover, they need long-term addiction counseling. It’s okay to start with a 30-day plan, but for the best results, look for programs that span at least 90 days. When we talk about addiction, we’re talking about major biochemical changes. This cannot be fixed overnight.
Build a support network
This may not be easy, but it can be helpful to rally a team of people around the addicted party. This group should include people who care deeply for the person. This is their inner circle. Unfortunately, though, these are the people who suffer most from the addict’s behavior. So, there may be a lot of hard feelings. The support network can help push the addict to get help. Research shows that group interventions are highly effective. And this group’s support can also help the addict get through the long and difficult recovery period.
As the friend of an addict, you probably feel pretty powerless. Someone you love is spiraling out of control, and they don’t seem to see the problem. The truth is that you don’t have a lot of control in this situation, but you also aren’t completely powerless. Things may get better before they get worse, but it’s important to let your friend know that you’ll be there through it all. You’re here now, and you’ll be there during recovery.