Addiction is a difficult challenge to overcome, but it is even harder to see someone you care about struggle with it. Watching a friend struggle with addiction can feel heartbreaking and overwhelming, but you don’t have to fight the battle alone; with the right approach, you can help your friend recover and rebuild their life. But, to effectively help a friend with addiction, it is important to know what you are getting into. Here are seven things you should know before jumping into the fray.
Addiction Is Not a Choice
First and foremost, it is crucial to understand that addiction is a disease, not a choice. It is a medical condition that requires treatment, not blame or judgment. Your friend may not have chosen addiction, but they can choose to get help. You can help them find support resources and give them a non-judgemental space to be. However, it is not your responsibility to cure your friend, but rather support them in making healthy choices to move forward and seek treatment.
Addiction Can Be Unpredictable
Addiction is complex and unpredictable, so be prepared for unexpected changes in mood or behaviour. It is not uncommon for individuals in recovery to experience sudden changes in their behaviour that can be difficult to understand. Recognizing these changes and staying grounded can help you respond to your friend in a way that is helpful and supportive. Knowing that behaviour can change and being prepared can not only help avoid harming your friends but also prevent them from harming you.
Enabling Can Make Things Worse
It’s essential to differentiate between supporting and enabling your friend. Enabling behaviour might seem like you’re helping, but in reality, it is harmfully allowing the addiction to continue by removing the natural consequences of your friend’s actions. Instead of giving money or helping get “just one more,” focuses on encouraging your friend to seek professional help and providing emotional support during their low times.
Communication and Respect Are Keys
It is important to have open channels of communication with your friend about their addiction, but also to respect their right to privacy and autonomy. Be sure to respect their decisions, even if it’s not what you want them to do, and offer non-judgmental support by listening and being available. Everyone’s journey is different, and what may work for someone else might not work for your friend.
There Is No “One Size Fits All” Solution
As mentioned before, everyone’s addiction journey is unique. What may work for one person in recovery may not work for another. Do your research and remain open to different types of treatment methods and therapy approaches to help your friend effectively work through their addiction. Don’t expect instant results and be patient with their changes.
Supporting Yourself Is Important Too
Caring for a friend with addiction will take an emotional toll on you too. It’s important to make sure to take care of yourself and seek support when you need it. Whether it’s attending therapy sessions or reaching out to support groups, make sure you’re balancing your well-being and the well-being of your friend.
In conclusion, helping a friend with addiction is a delicate endeavour requiring patience, knowledge, and compassion. It’s essential to understand that addiction is a medical condition, not a choice, and requires professional intervention. Seeking treatment with professionals, like A Better Choice Counseling and Alcohol, Drug & Assessment Center, can provide the necessary and individualized support to those battling addiction. They can offer a variety of treatment options, a non-judgmental environment, and the expertise to guide your friend on their unique path to recovery.
It’s crucial to remember while you can be a major pillar of support for your friend, it’s equally important to prioritize your own emotional and mental well-being. While offering your supportive presence, remember the importance of not enabling the addiction and staying patient with their journey. Ultimately, recognizing the individual journey of recovery and respecting your friend’s autonomy can pave the way toward a healthier future.