How to Help a Friend With Drug Addiction?

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Living with a drug addiction can be a long battle for many, but having the right support makes all the difference. It can be confusing and frightening if a friend or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction. 

A drug addiction, also defined as a substance abuse disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior. It’s important to note that substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine all fall under the category of drugs. A person living with drug addiction will continue to use the drug despite the harm that it is causing, which can lead to long-term consequences.

Here at Everlast Recovery, we believe that the road to recovery starts with acknowledgment and a supportive environment. Friends of addicts may not know where to begin to support the person using. It is important to support the addict and encourage them to seek the help they need. 

How to Tell if Your Friend is Addicted to Drugs

The symptoms of drug addiction can come in many forms. However, some telltale signs indicate whether a person has a drug addiction. A person’s behavior as a whole should be taken into consideration before confronting them about their drug and alcohol use.

Here are a few signs to pay attention to:

  • Poor School and Work Performance: Loved ones may have noticed a significant reduction in your friend’s school or work performance. For instance, they may be experiencing declining grades and a lack of interest in school-related activities. If a friend works, individuals may notice poor work performance, are continuously late on the job and receive poor performance reviews from managers.
  • Changes in Appearance: Those who are abusing drugs often start having a change in their physical appearance, such as wearing clothes that are inappropriate or clothes that are dirty. Friends of addicts may notice a lack of interest in their overall grooming. In addition to this, their eyes may be bloodshot, they’re experiencing poor skin tone, and they essentially appear tired. 
  • Altered Behavior: Another telltale sign is unusual behavior. More specifically, you may notice that the struggling friend is more isolated and has an increased desire for privacy. 
  • Spending More Money Than Usual: Those who abuse drugs tend to change their spending habits. Loved ones may notice that the addict is spending more money than usual. They also might request to borrow money more often. 
  • Changes in Appetite: Another potential sign is a change in appetite. The friend may begin eating less, which ultimately results in weight loss.
  • Defensiveness: The struggling friend may become defensive if asked about substance abuse. 

How to Talk to A Friend About Their Drug Addiction

Talking with a friend about drug addiction is never easy. As a concerned friend, loved ones ultimately want what is best for the person struggling. However, many people addicted to drugs aren’t ready to admit they have a problem, making it difficult to communicate concerns.

If a person believes that their friend is dealing with addiction, here are a few ways they can talk to them about it:

Only Talk When They Are Sober

It may be tempting to talk with them the first chance the concerned person gets, but it’s best to talk with the friend when they are sober. If the loved one talks with them while under the influence, it is less likely that they will be able to understand the seriousness of the matter. 

With that said, carve out time when the two parties can talk and express concerns. But keep in mind that communication is a two-way street. After expressing any concerns, be sure to listen to the friend. This will ensure that the two parties can have an honest, open, and judgment-free conversation. 

Provide Them With Examples

Talking about the user’s addiction is not always easy. Unfortunately, many people who abuse substances are in denial about their behavior. For the conversation to be more effective, it’s best to provide the friend with specific examples related to specific concerns. 

Ultimately, concerned people don’t just want to tell their friends that they believe there is an issue with substance abuse. It’s best to give them scenarios to help them understand their problem. For instance, the concerned individual may tell them how their behavior changes after engaging in drugs. 

Be Supportive

Drug abuse is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior. As such, it’s important to always be supportive of your friend and show love during this difficult time. Be sure to assert that they have support and that there are people with their best interests at heart. This can encourage them to get the help that they need. 

Another essential part of supporting is avoiding lecturing them on their negative behavior. However, loved ones should encourage their friend to get treatment and provide them with the benefits of living a sober life.

Ensure Your Words and Actions are Consistent

It can certainly be difficult to talk with a friend about their addiction, but it’s essential that  words and actions are consistent for a greater impact.

For instance, if the friend is dealing with alcohol abuse and the concerned party discusses concerns with them, the concerned person shouldn’t attend a party with them where they will be drinking. This means the concerned person is enabling their behavior and can lengthen the path to recovery.

Doing this doesn’t reinforce the person’s concerns and can send a confusing message. Be kind to the friend, but it’s also important to be direct, clear, and consistent to show them that their behavior is unacceptable. 

What to Do If a Friend Ignores Help

Sometimes, a friend may ignore help for substance abuse if they are not ready to get the help they need. As a friend, it’s important to educate oneself on substance abuse, be compassionate, and understand that addiction can be a long road. 

If the friend ignores help, this is a good time to follow through on any boundaries that have been set. For instance, if the friend lives with the concerned person they have been told would need to leave if they continue abusing drugs, it’s important to follow through.

By doing this, they will not only take the boundary seriously, but providing some kind of consequence to their actions can catapult them into recovery. 

It’s also important to continue encouraging the struggling friend. Remind them that they have people there to support them in their journey and continue encouraging them to get treatment. While the friend may not get help immediately, continued encouragement may get them there.

Lastly, remember to take care of one’s self. Providing support to someone with an addiction is not always easy. While loved ones want to see the addict get help, they have to recover in their own time. 

Receive Treatment With Everlast Recovery

Recovery is just around the corner. We at Everlast Recovery provide a comfortable family setting for treating addiction and mental health disorders.

Contact us today to learn more about our treatment services and how we can help.

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