How to Help a Friend Struggling With an Addiction

Watching a loved one fight substance addiction can be emotionally overwhelming, and people often feel helpless in such situations. Here is a brief guideline for what you need to do help your friend during this trying time.

addiction problems

Detect the Problem

Identifying addiction or substance abuse isn’t always easy. In fact, it often goes unnoticed by even close friends and family members until the problem has escalated considerably.

Detecting addiction is the first step in helping your friend overcome this problem. People struggling with this are usually hesitant to confide in somebody about what they’re going through and may take elaborate steps to keep it a secret. Therefore, look out for even the slightest behavioral or physical changes that may indicate this.  

However, don’t solely rely on your own observation. You may not be able to interpret the extent of the problem and need a qualified health professional to assess the severity of the condition.

Communicate With Your Friend

Once you have identified your friend’s addiction, it’s imperative that you talk to them with empathy and kindness. They may feel guilty about their addiction and be ashamed that you found out. They may feel further shame in getting professional help and having more people know of their condition.

Not everyone is open to treatment due to the effects it may have on their lives, and it’s highly likely that they’ll dismiss the need to do so or refuse outright.

It’s important that you don’t force your opinion upon them at this point, even if you feel treatment is the only easy to go about the situation. Instead, encourage them to share their fears and concerns and listen to what they have to say.

addiction support

Be supportive of their decision, even if you don’t agree, and try to understand their perspective instead of being persistent with convincing them of your opinion.


Hold an Intervention

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence defines an intervention as a professionally curated process whereby the person battling addiction has a face-to-face meeting with their closest friends and family members, regarding their substance abuse.  

The encounter is organized through a professional interventionist, and is a way for you to express your love for your friend and emphasize their significance. The purpose is to encourage them to seek professional help so that they may be able to recover from their addiction.  This is an effective way of helping your friend in this difficult time.

Discuss Treatment Options

Finally, it’s recommended that you do a bit of research on addiction and treatments available to be able to help your friend further. Get in touch with facilities that deal with substance abuse and recovery, talk to trained professionals about the recovery process, and try to learn as much as you can about what your friend will need.

Asking for help can be difficult, and a little preparation on your part and words of encouragement may be just what they need from you to get help.

Know someone who’s battling an addiction? Sign up for your Healthguv account to get in touch with medical professionals and peers who can better guide you through the process, and become part of the global healthcare social network.