Treating a substance addiction is a complicated process that can only begin when the addict decides to open up to treatment. This is frustrating because watching a friend struggle with addiction is painful, and it’s impossible to force the treatment process. However, there are powerful steps you can take to help.
Don’t Do It Alone
Speaking to a trusted mentor or advisor is critical. This person will be able to provide you with an outside perspective, encourage you when the going gets tough, and help you reach out to the right resources. Make sure you reach out to your mentor or advisor before you speak to your friend, and only speak to someone you trust will keep the matter confidential.
Timing Is Important
Once you have spoken to your mentor and feel confident approaching your friend, make sure to wait for the right moment. Your friend should be sober (free from the influence of drugs or alcohol), alone (not surrounded by others who could serve as poor influences), and in a position to talk (no requirements such as work coming up in the next few hours). Getting the timing right will make the conversation easier, and will ensure your friend remembers the discussion and has time to take it to heart.
Honesty And Openness Are Everything
It’s important that you don’t call your friend an addict or accuse them of anything. Instead, show them how their actions have impacted you and others around them. Make sure to give specific examples, and be honest about your feelings. Keep the conversation calm and focused around the support that is available. Your friend will be much more likely to listen and respond if you can bring up specific examples of their behaviour, explain why you’re concerned, and provide them with a solution in a calm and understanding tone.
Remember To Listen
Once the floodgates are open, it’s easy to get lost in your own words. Make sure that you give your friend a chance to speak their mind (if they’re willing). If they don’t want to talk about it, it’s important that you go away proud of yourself for trying. However, if they do want to talk about it, it’s important that you listen to everything they have to say. You don’t have to agree with what your friend is saying, but it’s important to give them a voice so that they know you’re interested in a conversation rather than just delivering a speech. It’s very likely that your friend will deny that they have a problem at all, and that leads to the final step.
Collect Good Information
Addiction has the powerful ability to blind people to the true nature of their situation. One of the best ways to fight this blindness is to provide accurate information about the impact your friend’s actions are having on them and others. Look into what their addiction is doing to their mind, body, finances, and relationships using data from government agencies, non-profit support groups, and other industry sources. Your friend may dismiss this initially, but those numbers may stick with them and make it harder for them to rationalize away their situation.
The ultimate goal of your conversation with your friend will be to help them along the path to admitting they have a problem for themselves. This may not happen quickly, but just by trying you’ve done a lot for them. Make sure you keep the lines of communication open, and offer as much encouragement as you can when they reach out. Above all, stay positive! Just by reaching out to them you’ve proven that you’re the best friend anyone could ask for.