How to help a friend with a drug problem

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Very good advice from Alanon (support group for family and friends of those in addiction)

By Mara Tyler, June 17, 2013


Helping a friend with a drug problem may seem like a daunting task.

After all, you can’t get sober for this person, nor can you force him or her to seek help.

What you can do, however, is help guide this person toward possible treating options and hope that something sticks. If the person is able to start a program of recovery, you can also provide unfailing support to help him or her along the way.

Talk about the problem

The first step in helping a friend with a drug problem is to confront the person about your concerns. Do this in a kind, gentle and non-accusatory way so that the person doesn’t feel attacked. Express that you’re worried about his or her behavior, explain what you have noticed and ask if this person is willing and ready to seek help. Just knowing that someone cares might be the thing that gives the addict the strength to stop using – or at least to try.

Don’t be co-dependent

As much as you might like to help someone, you also can’t force this person to stop using drugs. Remind yourself that this is not your fault, nor is it really your problem. Yes, you care, but that doesn’t mean the fate of this person is in your hands. Find support through groups like Alanon or CoDA, which are 12-step communities designed to help the family members and friends deal with their own feelings about a loved one’s addiction.

Offer to be a support person

When a person is in the first stages of recovery, sometimes going to a 12-step meeting or even a counselor can be difficult. Offer to be there for this person as a source of support during these initial steps. Just your presence can be reassuring and comforting to the addict.

Speak to friends and family members of the addict

In some cases, an intervention is necessary. If your friend ignores your concerns and isn’t seeking help, connect with the person’s family members and close friends. Tell them that you’re worried and discuss the possibility of sitting down with the addict to have a formal intervention.

Allow for an adjustment period

Getting sober is often a long and difficult road. Expect that things will be challenging for the addict and do your best to accommodate adjustments in this person’s lifestyle. Expect that he or she might be emotionally unstable during the first several weeks and try to be as patient and kind as possible. In the end, a strong and loving friend will be the best kind of friend an addict could ask for.

Source: Alanon

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