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Addiction is an epidemic that impacts millions of individuals and families alike each year. With rampant overdoses and serious side effects of long-term addiction, it is no surprise that family members and friends of loved ones are now more vigilant than ever when getting help for someone they care about in everyday life. Knowing how to approach a friend or loved one who is struggling with an addiction of any kind is vital to prevent missing potential opportunities for change or scaring them away from you altogether.
With the right steps, communicate openly and honestly with your loved one without overstepping boundaries and offering as much help and assistance as possible through trying times.
Identify the Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Before you can help a friend or loved one get off cocaine or stop using alcohol, prescription medications, or other illicit substances, it is imperative to learn how to identify the signs and symptoms of addiction. Not all addictions impact individuals in the same way, which is why it is necessary to have a general overview of how addiction translates to the human body (both physically and behaviorally). Identifying common signs of addiction can drastically shift your ability to approach your friend or loved one in the proper manner when speaking about their own vice.
Some of the most common behavioral changes that are notable in those with addiction include:
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that were once a source of joy.
- Lack of interest in socializing or gathering with family members and friends.
- Hygiene issues/lack of interest in personal grooming techniques.
- Mood swings/increased irritability/rage/agitation.
Keep an eye on your friend for various physical changes that are likely to occur with a severe and long-term addiction to cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or other opiates. Some of the most notable physical signs of addiction include:
- Shakiness/Tremors in the body’s extremities (arms, hands, and feet are most common)
- Red/Bloodshot Eyes
- Frequent Nosebleeds
- Bloating/Gas/Conspitation/Digestive Complaints
- Cognitive Impairment/Slurred Speech
- Extreme Weight Loss/Gain
Acknowledge Your Findings
It is not always easy to accept that a friend or loved one has developed a serious addiction. Acknowledge your findings clearly and consider how you intend to speak to your friend about your discovery.
Approach Your Friend in a Non-Confrontational Manner
Always approach a friend or loved one struggling with addiction in a non-confrontational manner. Oftentimes, individuals struggling with addiction are less likely to admit their challenges when they feel attacked or demeaned. Consider how your friend feels while going through their addiction. Many times, individuals who have addictions are aware of their struggles but are unable or unwilling to face them head-on without the proper support and guidance.
Express Your Concern and Support for Your Friend
Avoid speaking to your friend who is struggling with addiction in a confrontational manner. Instead, simply express your concern and support without attempting to force your loved one to take immediate action. It is not always easy to motivate individuals struggling with addiction to change their lives or to consider a rehabilitation program, which is why it is simply important to show your support. Express that you are willing to help your friend seek out a program or facility that is right for them once they are ready to make a change in their lives. Inform them that you are available any time to take their calls or to pay them a visit, especially if they choose to eliminate the temptations from their life.
Seek Out Relevant Local and Online Resources
Research local and online resources for addiction in your area. Compare both inpatient and outpatient programs and share the information openly with your friend. Discuss all of the options you have near you with your friend who is struggling to commit to a plan of action together.
Knowing how to help a friend get sober from drugs and alcohol is extremely beneficial when you want your loved one to begin living a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life. Whether your friend has only recently become addicted to drugs or if they have struggled for years or even decades, getting them the help they need is possible with the right resources and an approach that is most suitable for your friend or loved one personally.