If your best friend is addicted or struggling with substance abuse, you might feel powerless over the situation. It’s hard to figure out what to say or do. However, there are ways you can help. With your support and a good treatment program, your friend can beat their addiction and get on the road to recovery.
Here are few things you can do to help your friend:
Talk to Your Friend
Make plans to talk to your friend in person, and choose a setting where there will be few distractions and plenty of privacy. Be sure your friend isn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you have your talk—a person who is drunk or high is less likely to respond to logic and could become angry or irrational.1
Tell your friend that you’re worried about their substance abuse, and ask if you could share some suggestions. Provide your friend with information on various treatment programs, and let them know that you’ll take them to a treatment center right away if they’re willing to get help.
You may have a surprisingly productive conversation. Your friend may not have noticed any recent changes in their behavior, and they may not have realized the impact their addiction is having on their loved ones. However, there’s a good chance your friend might not be receptive to the idea of addiction treatment. If they’re unwilling to get help, drop the issue for the time being.
Stay Involved with Their Recovery
Once your loved one has started treatment, it’s important to stay involved. Your help and support will help boost their chances of success. Visit your friend whenever you can, and let them know that you’re ready to help when needed.
Addiction is a chronic disease, so it’s helpful to maintain reasonable expectations about your friend’s recovery. Relapse is an ongoing risk, particularly during the first 90 days of sobriety.2 It doesn’t mean that your friend has failed or won’t ever recover; it just means that they need more time working on their coping strategies and adjusting to their new lifestyle.
Know When to Let Go
If your best friend is addicted, it’s natural to want to help them—but micromanaging their recovery isn’t helpful. Learning how to accept responsibility for their actions is a key part of addiction recovery; your friend will have do the work themselves. It’s also important to take care of yourself during this turbulent time. Boundaries are valuable in any relationship, but they’re essential when addiction is part of the equation. If you’re having trouble dealing with your friend’s addiction, you may want to talk to a therapist or join a support group.
Addiction can damage every aspect of a person’s life, and it’s not easy to watch a friend struggle with the disease. Keep in mind that your friend needs be ready to get help—you can’t force a person to quit. The real work of recovery will be up to your friend, but your support can make a huge difference along the way.