3 MIN READ | Mental Health

Against the Odds: 5 Ways to Help a Friend Struggling with Drug Abuse

Elena Deeley

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Elena Deeley, (2020, December 5). Against the Odds: 5 Ways to Help a Friend Struggling with Drug Abuse. Psychreg on Mental Health. https://www.psychreg.org/help-friend-struggling-drug-abuse/
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In a world full of uncertainties, regrets, and struggles, the best way to survive is to make a meaningful connection with another person by building any companionship. Of course, building a sturdy companionship includes maintaining and nurturing it by being compassionate and patient, even if, and especially if, the other person is no longer easy to understand as they struggle to overcome a particular phase of their life.

We all go through a rough phase of our life, but some people experience hardship in overcoming it – mostly if that phase involves being addicted to drug use. If you have a loved one who is struggling with a drug abuse problem, one of the things that you can do is to be the warmth that they need by offering them your presence and following these doable ways to help them:

Encourage them to get help

Most people assume that drug addiction is a choice, but it is not. It is a mental and physical illness that makes a person crave to continue using any form of drugs, despite its harmful effects on the mind and body. Some users want to stop using them, but the cravings cannot be abruptly stopped unless they seek medical and therapeutic help.

If you have a friend who is determined to stop using drugs but struggles to do so, you may encourage them to seek real help from the professionals. You may accompany them to a detox center near your place while consoling them that they will be alright after the therapy.

Seeking professional help is a must in dealing with drug abuse problems because they can provide accurate methods, tools, therapies, and programs that can enhance and improve a substance user’s condition. Aside from that, by going to a detox centre, they will also be given clinical supervision to help them cope with the initial withdrawal symptoms that they would most probably experience within the session.

Understand their situation

There are different types of drugs, and each type has emotional, psychological, and physical effects on the user. Excessive use of drugs can alter the way a person behaves and perceives things and situations. They would come up as overly emotional and needy as they struggle to sort out their anxious and depressive thoughts.

As a friend who wants to help and be a support system, you must be as understanding and sympathetic as possible. And one way to help you understand how they feel is by doing some extra reading and research about their condition. Read about the overview, effects, symptoms, ways to cope and help, and other important information about drug abuse. The more you know about it is, the more you understand.

Be patient

With the changing behaviour and mood of your friend who is struggling with drug abuse problems, you must be patient in listening to their rants and sentiments to make them feel that they are being understood. When they start talking to you and start asking for your help about their condition, make them feel that you understand them without enabling them to continue using.

Avoid guilt-tripping them

Communication is crucial when dealing with someone who has been struggling with drug abuse. So, be mindful of your words when talking to them. Avoid guilt-tripping them and telling them that they should’ve known better. Some of the substance users are trying to change their lives. It would be disheartening and discouraging when they are continuously reminded of their wrongdoing.

Hold them accountable for their actions, but avoid blaming them for their choice in the past. Instead, please encourage them to start moving forward and seek professional help. You may also invite them to start a new hobby or engage in a more healthy lifestyle such as gardening, painting, or sports. 

Take care of yourself

As they say, ‘you cannot give what you don’t have’. So, if you don’t know how to take care of yourself, you cannot expect yourself to care for the people you love. No matter how concerned you are with your friend’s condition, if you feel drained and tired, you must take a rest or do other productive things aside from worrying about them.

Although you would feel obliged to understand and take good care of them, in reality, they are not your responsibility. You may offer and give your love, presence, patient, and understanding, but always leave something for yourself. It would be pointless if you help them overcome their drug abuse problem, and in return, you make yourself stressed, unhealthy, and sick.

Takeaway

Helping a friend in dealing with their drug abuse problem is quite challenging and, at times, energy-draining. But as a good friend who knows how to love and who wants to maintain a good companionship with them, you are patiently and openly sharing yourself to help them overcome their struggle. You might not be able to entirely treat them for this illness, but your presence and attempt to help can make a significant impact on them.


Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.


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