A true friend is someone we can feel comfortable around. Whether we’re telling them corny jokes or our deepest secrets, we have a level of trust with certain friends that is hard to find elsewhere.
Mutual trust is a big deal, and it’s not something that should be violated or taken lightly. That’s why it’s so hard to deal when you see a friend sliding into something like alcohol or drug abuse.
We want to help our friends, but we aren’t sure they’ll listen, and we really don’t want them to become angry, lash out, and stop talking to us. There are a few strategies to consider when you’re dealing with a friend who has a problem.
If your friend seems to be headed towards addiction rather than all the way there, see if you can start with a few relatively subtle comments about their habits. For instance, if you see a friend grabbing another shot at a party, maybe ask them, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
It’s important to come off as concerned rather than condescending. If need be, expound on your remarks with something like, “You’ve been drinking a lot tonight, and I don’t want you to get sick. I don’t think another round is a good idea.” They may or may not listen, but if nothing else, perhaps you’ve planted a seed of something in their heads.
This becomes trickier if your friend is using a drug like heroin, Ecstasy, or even prescription opioids. There’s really no way to say, “Hey, that’s too much meth!” All meth is too much meth. There is no such thing as a moderate amount of the stuff.
If your friend starts doing an illegal drug in front of you, it’s more than OK to say, “I’m really not comfortable with that.” If they continue to use, it’s OK to leave. Sitting around and arguing with them while they do meth isn’t going to get you anywhere. At that point, it’s time to consider more drastic action.
Know your limits
We all grow up being taught that love can change people. Love can do wonderful things, but it can’t singlehandedly rescue someone from the throes of addiction. You can support and encourage someone struggling with an addiction, but you can’t physically drag them to a rehab facility.
You can, however, hire an outside interventionist to talk to them and strongly encourage them to get help. Sometimes people will listen to a credible stranger over a close friend.
It’s also hard to not enable a loved one’s bad choices. If they get arrested for DUI, you can send them a few lawyer websites or direct them to a local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay for their lawyer by taking money out of your own savings account.
You shouldn’t be shielding them from the consequences of their actions. It’s a cliché, but people often have to hit rock bottom before they can really start to dig their way out of addiction.