It is incredibly difficult to watch a friend suffer from addiction. Before trying to help them, it is important to acknowledge that you cannot control whether or not they use. There are ways you can help your friend to start their recovery journey and offer them the love they need. When offering help, it is crucial you also recognize your own health. It can be very stressful supporting a friend struggling with addiction, so make sure to take care of your own mental and physical wellbeing. This blog will outline symptoms of drug abuse and suggest some tips for helping a friend struggling with addiction.
How Can I Tell If My Friend is Addicted to Drugs?
There are both behavioral and physical signs to look out for when you are suspecting a friend may be addicted to drugs.
- Sudden changes in behavior or mood swings
- Withdrawal from family members and friends
- Carelessness about personal hygiene
- Loss of interest in hobbies, sports, or other activities they used to take part in
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Red, glassy, or bloodshot eyes, or pupils that are smaller or larger than normal
- Sniffling or runny nose
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Shakes, tremors, incoherent or slurred speech, impaired or unstable coordination
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Spoons and syringes laying out
- Small, resealable baggies that could be used to store drugs
- Pipes, plastic bottles, or cans that have been tampered with
- Burnt foil
- Stuff missing, such as valuables, money, and/or prescription drugs
Tips to Help Your Friend Stop Using Drugs
Although helping a friend who is struggling with addiction is not easy, sweeping their addiction under the rug and ignoring it is much worse. Here are some suggestions on how to help a friend get treatment for their addiction:
Until you understand addiction better, it’s easy to miss the signs. Addiction is very complex and you are not expected to know everything. Gathering some basic knowledge on addiction, the symptoms, and how to help is the first step in offering your friend the support they need.
Offer your support
Oftentimes, addicts do not recognize how much the ones around them love them and how much you may want to help them recover. Talk to your friend openly about your concerns in a manner that is not judgemental. You do not want to wait until they hit rock bottom to say something.
Encourage them to seek help
You cannot force your friend to seek treatment, however, it is important to encourage it. Like with any other disease, the earlier one seeks treatment the better. It is important to know that when you do bring up treatment, you may be met with excuses as to why they can’t go or denial that they have a problem. Although you may not want to, it is crucial to be persistent about them entering treatment and emphasize that it is not shameful to do so.
Understanding recovery is an ongoing process
If your loved one decides to enter treatment, it is important you remain involved and supportive. Make sure they know that once they are in treatment, you will not abandon them. Attend meetings with them and participate in their recovery (if they allow you to). Remember, just because they go to treatment, doesn’t mean the challenges associated with their addiction will disappear. Make sure they know you are there for them throughout the recovery process.
Take care of yourself
It’s easy to forget to look after yourself when you are helping your friend address their addiction. It is crucial, however, to make sure your own needs are met. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, and receiving your own emotional support. Moreover, if you are not taking care of yourself, you will not be able to support your friend as well as you’d like.
Help Your Friend Recover at Design for Recovery
Design for Recovery is a sober living home for men located in West Los Angeles. Design for Recovery offers a structured, safe environment to become more secure in your sobriety. Residents work hard daily to develop new skills, values, and coping mechanisms for approaching life in early recovery. During this process, residents develop close friendships with their peers and become connected with the Los Angeles recovery community. Design for Recovery can help your friend receive the support they need to stay on track with their sobriety. At Design for Recovery, we believe that addiction recovery involves more than just physically abstaining from substances — it involves building a new way of life.