Talking to a friend about personal matters is never easy. Talking to them about their alcohol or other drug use can be even harder.
Drug addiction is an escalating problem in the United States and there is a good chance that you know at least one person with a substance abuse problem. Someone who is experiencing a substance abuse or mental health problem may not want to listen and you will walk away feeling angry, frustrated and upset.Another issue you may face with a friend in the throes of addiction is that experienced addicts know how to hide the problem from family and other loved ones. If you suspect a friend is struggling with addiction, knowing what to look for can help you address the problem.
Talking about drug addiction is never easy, so it’s not a conversation you want to start on a whim or a slight suspicion. Take the time to observe your friend’s behavior and keep track of suspicious ones. There are a number of indicators of addiction to watch for when you’re concerned about a friend.
Changes In Behavior
Behavioral signs of addiction may be the easiest to spot, especially if you know your friend well. Behavioral changes, such as mood swings, will be readily apparent. The individual may also withdraw from old friendships and familial relationships out of a fear that the addiction will be discovered.
There may also be a loss of interest in normal routines. There may be frequent eruptions of anger and other mood swings. Drug problems often cause people to lose interest in personal grooming habits, so a change in appearance can be a strong indicator of a problem.
- They may stop showering, may wear the same clothes several days in a row, or may stop washing and brushing their hair.
- Along similar lines, they may also stop engaging in hobbies or their favorite activities. Quitting a sports team, dropping a gym membership, or resigning from other group activities may be early warning signs of addiction.
- Probably the last thing to go is work. They may show up at work and not do their work. This is always problematic.
The physical signs of addiction may require paying closer attention to your friend.
- Watch for red or glossy eyes.
- Pupils may be dilated or vary in size, while the white areas of the eyes will often appear bloodshot.
- When the individual comes down from a high, he or she may shake or tremble as withdrawal takes effect.
- They may also have speech difficulties or may seem less confident than usual.
- Additionally, frequent nosebleeds and unexplained changes in weight can also be signs of addiction.
Tips for Discussing Your Friend’s Addiction
When you are ready to begin talking about drug addiction with your friend, plan ahead and organize your thoughts and try to have another friend present for the conversation. Going one on one with someone in the midst of addiction often will cause you great frustration as the denial blanket is on. This can help you keep the conversation from getting out of control. Your friend is likely to respond emotionally, which makes it all the more important that you remain rational. Here are three tips to help you have a more successful encounter with your drug-addicted friend. But before we get to the tips, talking and receiving coaching from a clinician/interventionist such as myself can help you organize the way you approach your friend.
- Do Your Research
Before you begin this conversation, make sure you’re prepared to see it through. This means researching the treatment options in your area by consulting each facility and discovering what the different treatment centers have to offer. The more you know about rehab options, the better equipped you’ll be to provide the help your friend will need.
- Wait Until Your Friend is Sober
If you confront your friend when they’re high, they’re less likely to be open to the messages that you’re trying to convey. They may even have difficulty understanding what you’re trying to tell them. Alternatively, a sober mind will help them see the damage their addiction is causing, which may make them more willing to pursue treatment.
- Be a Supportive Influence
When someone is dealing with drug problems, their addiction can alter how they perceive others. They may feel oppressed or overly criticized, so it’s important not to validate those feelings by criticizing or blaming your friend. Instead, express your concern for your friend and pledge to help them face their addiction. Recovery will not be easy and recovering drug addicts rely on supportive loved ones to help them stay strong.
- Contact a Professional Interventionist
A professional interventionist will lead you through the process of planning an intervention, finding the right treatment options, and supporting your friend throughout recovery.
While drug addiction is a serious problem, it doesn’t have to be an ongoing issue. By helping your friend get treatment, you’ll be helping them break free of an unhealthy cycle. You will be rewarded by seeing your friend return to a healthier and happier version of themselves.