My friend the addict, how can I help?
It can happen in an instant. You wake up one day and realise that your friend of 20 years has a substance abuse problem. So what is next? How do you, his best friend react? What do you say? What do you do? Firstly, before you blow gasket overthinking it all, take a deep breath. You are already in first gear and it is going to be alright. If you find yourself telling yourself in the mirror “My friend is an addict, what should I do?” Then read on.
Substance abuse, both alcohol and drug have this uncanny ability to make their victims both physically and mentally addictive to their drug of choice, which makes it difficult to make clear correct choices about recovery and getting clean. You as a friend or as a family member may want to help and the first and most important step should always be to consult an addiction professional for advice. If you want to find out more about the strategies used to help an addict or alcoholic call Houghton House Group of Treatment Centre’s helpline on 011 787 9142 or in an emergency on 079 770 7532.
When a friend shows signs of substance abuse, abusing alcohol or other drugs
it is hard to know what to do or say. Research has revealed that addiction is a brain disorder and can be just as life-threatening as heart disease, diabetes or emphysema. The way an addict behaves and the social symptoms of the addiction can harm friends, family or co-workers BUT you as the friend may very well be in the best position to help your friend to recognise the need to seek help in the form of treatment. It’s a well-known fact that many people in recovery say that they sought out help because a friend or relative was honest with them about their situation.
So …My friend the addict- and you just want to help the recovery
what do you do? When you are deciding whether you want to speak to your friend there may be some concerns that start swimming around in your mind. These could include:
Mixed feelings and fear:
Is it right for me to get involved in someone else’s affairs?
Answer: Remember – addiction can lead to death.
Someone else will speak up:
I am sure his other friends will talk to him about it.
Answer: Not everyone may be looking out for your friend’s best interest and it’s important not to wait for someone else to take the lead.
You care and you are hurting:
He hurt me in the past with his actions and/or behaviour.
Answer: Remember the person may have not been their normal self and you need to also take responsibility for your feelings, too.
My friend the addict.
Here is a guide to what your friend may do or say if they have a psychological or emotional craving for a substance.
- Socialises with others who abuse drugs
- Has mood swings
- Has problems at work and at home
- Has difficulty with relationships
- Engages in dangerous behaviour like driving while drunk
- Physical symptoms
- When a person’s body becomes dependent on a drug, you may see some of the following symptoms:
- Sleeping problems
- Sees drugs as the solution, not the problem
- Takes the drug in larger amounts or over a longer period
- Is preoccupied with getting drugs
- Steals or sells possessions to buy drugs
- Feels anxious, irritable, depressed
- Has lost interest in school, work, or hobbies
- Needs more drugs for the same effect
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Has physical withdrawal symptom when not taking the drug.
My friend the addict
So how do you talk to your friend when you realise that they are an addict? What can you do, or say? Here are some tips which can help you talk to your friend:
- Don’t try to talk when your friend is drunk or high. It is also a good idea to meet in a neutral place, but avoid bars or places that serve alcohol and can promote the use of the substance.
- Talk about the effect your friend’s drinking or drug use has on whatever the person cares about most like career or children. Your friend may not be concerned about his or her situation but may care deeply for the children and what the problem may be doing to them.
- Become aware of treatment or recovery resources available in your community.
- Give your friend the number of a treatment centre, such as Houghton House Group of Treatment Centre’s helpline on 011 787 9142 or in an emergency on 079 770 7532.