How To Approach And Talk To Friends With Addictions

You wouldn’t refuse to aid and support a friend, loved one, or coworker if they fell unwell. But what if the same person had an alcohol problem or was abusing drugs? Would you offer assistance as promptly as possible? Would you know what to do or say in such a situation?

Like other chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma, addiction is a medically diagnosable condition called “alcohol use disorder” or “substance use disorder.” If left untreated, addiction can be fatal.

It’s natural to be hesitant when determining whether or not to talk with a relative or friend about their drug addiction. These are difficult talks to start, yet they can save lives. Here are five things you may be telling yourself about your friend’s circumstance and why you should reach out nonetheless:

“I’m not willing to jeopardize our friendship.”

Many people think that bringing up the subject of addiction would end their relationship, but in actuality, the reverse is more likely. Addicts frequently secretly hope that a buddy will open the door and inquire about their situation.

“How much my friend drinks or if they get high is none of my concern, and I wouldn’t want someone instructing me what to do.”

Assume you’re in a restaurant, and someone at a table close is having a stroke. If you knew how, you’d perform CPR immediately, wouldn’t you? Or, if you didn’t know CPR, you’d seek assistance. It’s just as essential to deal with a friend’s substance abuse problem. 

Addiction is a primary cause of death globally, and drug or alcohol misuse is the cause of many hospitalizations. You could literally save your friend’s life by reaching out and speaking to them about drinking or drug abuse.

“My friend likes to drink, but he is not into drugs.”

There is a tendency to discount the dangers of alcohol misuse compared to the level of worry you might feel if your friend was using heroin, meth, cocaine, or other illicit narcotics. Alcohol is an addictive drug, even if legal and socially acceptable. Excessive drinking is now responsible for one out of every ten deaths among working-age individuals in some parts of the world.

“If the situation is that awful, I’m certain my friend’s family would mention something, but I’m only a friend.”

Family members may not recognize the magnitude of your friend’s problem if they have been drinking or doing drugs for a long time. Some families choose to ignore the situation to protect themselves. 

The confusion and anguish that drinking and drug abuse brings families are one of the tragedies of these diseases. Another factor to consider is that heavy alcohol or drug use is normal; thus, family members may be the last to notice the need for treatment.

“How do I know I’m saying it the correct way? I don’t really want my pal to be offended or wounded.”

It’s challenging to bring up something as intimate and emotional as heavy substance use, even with a close friend. You don’t want to shame your friend or damage their pride. It’s possible that your friend will grow enraged. That’s why it’s crucial to take a nonjudgmental attitude and keep the talk focused on the actions and outcomes you’ve witnessed from your friend’s substance abuse.

When Should You Talk to Your Friend?

When dealing with a friend, timing is crucial. When your companion is drunk or high, they can’t appreciate what you’re telling them, and the scenario could get out of hand.

Instead, speak with your pal when they are in a better frame of mind. Reach out to your friend when s/he is hungover or remorseful after a drinking or drug-related incident when the negative results are still vivid in their minds. It’s okay if you can’t meet with your friend immediately; in any case, you’ll want to bring up a larger pattern of occurrences rather than a single instance.

How Do You Begin a Conversation?

Don’t sweat it if you don’t express everything perfectly. The most important message is to express your worry for your loved one compassionately and honestly.

You might wish to bring along someone who understands your worry for your friend’s condition, such as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a similar organization. You might also tell someone what you’re up to and have them call you for assistance. It’s also good to meet your pal somewhere neutral, rather than in a restaurant or pub where alcohol is served.

Important Points to Remember:

  • Be encouraging. 

Your friend is not a bad person, no matter how “awful” their recent behaviour. Addiction is an illness, and the American Medical Association has recognized it since 1956. As a result, refrain from blaming or criticizing. You’re speaking openly because you love your friend, not because you’re trying to force them to “get their act together.”

  • Describe what you see in detail. 

Instead of broad remarks like “You never keep your word,” bring up specific occurrences like “When you postponed our plans the other day.” It’s also good to frame the discussion using “I” terms like “I noticed” or “I’m afraid” because your buddy can’t contradict your impressions.

  • Encourage one another. 

Discuss how your friend’s alcohol or drug usage affects whatever is most important to them: profession, children, sports, etc. Your acquaintance may not be worried about their circumstances but may be concerned about the influence on their kids, for example.

  • Prepare yourself. 

You might wish to write down whatever you want to say, depending on your connection level: intimate friend, casual acquaintance, or coworker. Aside from the few ideas offered, your friend could answer in various ways. The most important thing is paying attention, sticking to the facts, expressing how much you care, and telling them you are there for support.


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