If you have a friend struggling with an addiction, whether that is to a substance (alcohol, cocaine, heroin), or a behaviour like gambling, you may feel helpless and as though you don’t know where to turn or what to do to help them.
There are a number of things you can do to support your friend. In this blog, we give advice on how to help a friend with an addiction, and provide information on the specialist addiction treatment that’s available here at Manor Clinic.
Learn the symptoms of addiction
It’s really important that you’re aware of the symptoms of addiction so you can spot warning signs and patterns in your friend’s destructive behaviours, and support them accordingly.
Does your friend:
- Regularly drink, take drugs, or engage in behaviours regardless of the problems these cause in their life?
- Seem to need to drink more alcohol, take more drugs and engage in compulsive behaviours more frequently to achieve the ‘high’ or ‘buzz’ they crave?
- Lie about their activities and whereabouts?
- Deny that they have a problem, both to themselves and others?
- Miss out on special occasions because of their drinking, drug use or other behaviours?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s likely that your friend is struggling with a substance or behavioural addiction.
Speak to your friend about your worries
Speak to your friend openly and honestly about your concerns. This will give you the chance to express your worries and also lets them know that you have their best interests at heart, and are always there to listen to and support them.
When you speak to your friend, choose a time and a place that’s private where you’re unlikely to be interrupted. It’s also a good idea for it to be a place where they feel relaxed and safe, as this can encourage them to feel comfortable opening up to you. You could invite your friend over for a cup of tea or coffee when no-one else is in the house, or suggest going for a walk together.
If you’ve never experienced addiction yourself, it might be hard to understand your friend’s behaviour. But don’t be judgemental or critical. Instead, try to tackle the conversation in a caring, sympathetic and gentle way. Use phrases that start with ‘I’ as opposed to ‘you’, like ‘I’m worried about you’. By placing the emphasis on you instead of them, they’re less likely to feel attacked or under scrutiny, and will be more likely to open up to you.
When you talk, also make it clear that you’re there to support them. Tell your friend that they can always come to you if they’re struggling, so they know they always have someone to lean on if they’re going through a particularly rough time.
Keep in touch and plan appropriate activities
It’s important to keep in touch with your friend and regularly check in on how they’re doing. This reinforces to them the fact that you care and are there to support them. Give them a call or text asking how they are, to remind them they’re not alone.
You could also take the time to plan activities for you both, as a way of touching base and helping them to spend time away from negative influences they may have in their life. If you do plan activities, make sure these are appropriate according to the type of addiction your friend is struggling with. For example, if your friend has a substance addiction, avoid going to places where they can access these.
Help your friend get the support they need
While the above points can go some of the way towards helping a friend with an addiction, the reality is that substance or behavioural addictions often need professional support within a specialist addiction rehab centre.
Therefore, it’s important that you’re there to support your friend to get the help they need. Offer to go with them to an appointment with their GP where they'll be able to discuss their concerns and worries. Alternatively, you can contact Manor Clinic directly to discover more about the addiction treatment that we offer and to discuss your friend’s needs in more detail.
Our high quality Addiction Treatment Programme at Manor Clinic offers:
- A free, no obligation addiction assessment
- Medically assisted withdrawal detoxification for substance addictions, if this is needed
- Structured group therapy
- A high quality family programme
- Access to 12-Step support groups
- Free aftercare for life
- Free family support for life
We are also able to provide advice and support on staging an intervention to help people enter treatment.
When your friend is in treatment for alcohol addiction
At Manor Clinic, you can continue to help your friend when they’re in treatment. You can:
- Attend family sessions if appropriate (these are open to family members and close friends), and learn as much as you can about the treatment and recovery process
- Keep in touch with them and let them know that you’re thinking of them and wishing them all the best for their treatment and recovery
When someone first enters treatment at Manor Clinic, visiting times are limited at first in order to give the person the time and space they need to detox (if they have an alcohol or drug addiction) and focus on their recovery. It also allows family and close friends time for respite and reflection. However, after this initial time in treatment and with agreement from the patient and our multidisciplinary team, friends and family are allowed to visit; this is another way you can help your friend while they’re in treatment.
With your help, as well as expert addiction treatment within our specialist centre, your friend will be able to tackle their addiction, and take steps towards recovery and wellbeing.