When friends wrestle with addiction, it can become difficult to find the words to tell them how much you care. They may think you are just trying to get them to treatment (you are) or tell them what they are doing is harmful (you are), and yet you want to do it in a way they will hear you. Addiction is a stubborn, voracious disease. Find out more about why addiction makes things a little more complicated (but not impossible) when it comes to talking with a friend about their drug or alcohol use.

Complex Issues

A loved one can struggle for years under the weight of addiction before being able to seek help. It is not that they do not want to get help. It is just that they are under the guise of not being able to fully leap into the next step of the journey due to denial and feeling like they are not sure of what will happen next. Quite often, family and friends become distant and the things that used to bring them pleasure no longer sustain them. They desperately need support and guidance to get through, but also a tough stance that says ‘enough is enough.’ It is always a good time to talk with a friend about drug addiction and help them get their life back on track.

Helpful Tips

While there is no set formula that works, it helps to have some tools in your toolbox to help the conversation get going. Think about each of these tips, which you can keep in mind when discussing with a friend about addiction. 

  • Wait till they’re sober: don’t try to strike up a conversation about their sobriety while they are under the influence. That will likely just be the drugs talking. Set a time where just the two of you can talk. Discuss concerns but know the conversation is a two-way street. Give space to listen and humbly hear what they say, but remember you may hear much of the same excuses and denials. Focus on bringing awareness to them about the issues gently and see how that works
  • Speak from experience: as a friend, you likely have been down a road with them nobody else has. Speak the truth to them about what you have seen and witnessed. Maybe you have played designated driver too many times, so illuminate what that was like for you.be honest and open to sharing and how they change from the person you love to someone you don’t know when they use drugs or alcohol
  • Offer unconditional love: let them know that, no matter what, you love and support them. Your love and support do not mean you will be walked all over. Set boundaries and explain how addiction makes you feel

The final tip to help a friend is to encourage treatment resources. The friend may not have anyone speaking truth into their lives at this point. Offer to help research treatment options and community resources. Offer reassurance when they do counseling, support groups, and other recovery services, they can count on you to help guide them through all the way. Take interest in their sober activities and tell them how excited you are to see them finish school or get that job promotion or do something they always wanted to do (once they’re sober). Maybe talk about future plans like going on a vacation together once they hit milestones like 6 or 12 months sober. Encourage them to keep going when times are difficult but that you are right by their side. The best way to provide help is to offer support now and in the future to lower their anxiety about making the leap to treatment. 

A Step in the Right Direction offers help to loved ones who have struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol for years, even decades. We realize the importance of family and friends in the journey, so we offer lots of therapeutic support and family days to encourage people in rehab. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information, sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702