Watching a friend battle addiction can be difficult, and although it’s sometimes easier to “wash our hands” of the situation, sticking around to help in their struggle is important. As opposed to a family member struggling with a dependency in order to ease the financial or psychological burden of all involved, maintaining support for a friend takes a truly noble spirit.
The first thing to do, is confront your friend about issues surrounding their disease. Deep down, an addict knows they have a problem. It’s usually ego that prevents them from acknowledging it to themselves and the world. If you focus on itemized things that effect your life (their rent was late, you ended up babysitting again, you had to leave the party early again) your friend will see how their debilitating behavior is now affecting others, not themselves alone.
By avoiding pointing fingers about how their disease affects them by providing examples of how their disease affects yourself and their family, it is easier for them to comprehend and acknowledge.
If you are afraid your friend will get violent, hire a professional to stage an intervention. At the very least, confront your friend about their addiction in the presence of at least one other person who can protect you if your friend gets physical. Most often it’s easiest to bring up a subject such as this when your friend is comfortable and at ease. Instead of preparing them for a heavy discussion ask them if they
want to go for a walk or grab coffee. Make sure they feel at ease.
Your next priority is to open communication. With their disease and it’s effects out on the table, make sure your friend realizes that you support and love them, but you are establishing some ground rules. If you say no more money for drugs, refuse to give them money. Standing firm in the choices you make is important not to breed co-dependency. Do not make their problem into your problem.
Research rehabilitation programs and support groups. If you are choosing to stick around as a pillar of strength for your friend, you may want to consider joining a support group yourself. As people battle addictions they can be cruel as a result of withdrawal. Realize that their harsh words and actions are actually a “good” sign and not an attack.
Supporting someone struggling with addiction is difficult, but helping that person achieve a healthy lifestyle physically and emotionally can be very rewarding. Instead of focusing on your trials, focus on their tribulations and offer support for the steps they make. By offering love and support, yet being firm about codependent choices, you will be offering your friend the best chance at recovery.