If you’re a friend of a person struggling with alcohol or drug problems you may feel helpless and unsure what to do. Exploring this website is a good start and can help you be better informed about what your friend is struggling with. Here are some helpful links to sites that give advice about how to help a friend. The following is some advice and a quiz from www.abovetheinfluence.com
This quiz can help you assess whether your friend has a drug problem. Only a doctor or trained counselor can truly determine if your friend has a problem. But you need to remember that any drug use is cause for concern. However, this gives you some things to think about when considering a friend’s drug use – and will help you determine if you need to talk with your friend. Remember, there is no way to determine how long it takes for addiction to set in, and all drugs take their toll on the brain and body. Drug use is a problem – and whether it’s a lot or a little makes no difference.
If you decide that you want to talk to your friend about his/her drug or alcohol use, you should always follow these simple steps:
- Remember that your friend’s drug use is NOT your fault.
- Never confront your friend when she is drunk or high.
- If your friend becomes angry or violent, leave and bring up the subject later when he is calm. Or, you can suggest that he talk to a trusted adult.
- If you are nervous about talking with your friend, ask another friend who knows the situation if you can practice with him or her, to help work out ahead of time what you are going to say.
How can I tell if a friend’s drug use is out of control?
Since drug users are usually pretty secretive about their dependency it’s kind of hard to tell. Watch your friend for any of the following signs, and, if one or more appear, you might want to talk to your friend about getting some help:
- Gets drunk or high on drugs on a regular basis.
- Gets drunk or high alone.
- Lies about things, or about the amount of drugs they are using.
- Avoids you so they can go get drunk or high instead.
- Stops doing stuff that used to be a big part of their life (sports, homework, or hanging out with friends who don’t do drugs).
- Plans drinking or drug use in advance, hides alcohol or drugs, and uses them when alone.
- Has to drink or use more drugs than ever before to get the same high.
- Doesn’t think they can have fun unless drunk or stoned.
- Has a lot of hangovers.
- Seems withdrawn, depressed, tired, and cares less about personal grooming and physical appearance.
- Changed eating and sleeping patterns; rapid loss of weight.
- Has difficulty concentrating.
- Red-rimmed eyes or runny nose not related to cold or allergies.
- Pressures other people to drink or use other drugs.
- Takes risks, including sexual risks.
- Has “blackouts” and forgets what they did while under the influence.
- Feels run-down, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal.
- Sounds selfish and doesn’t care about others.
- Constantly talks about drinking or using other drugs.
- Gets in trouble with the police.
- Drives while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Gets suspended from school for drug-related problems
So what do you do when a friend is abusing drugs?
If you’re worried about your friend’s drug problem, you need to learn how you can help before you can actually offer help. Talk with a teacher or guidance counselor you know and trust. If you’re worried about breaking your friend’s trust, ask the person you go to for help to keep the conversation confidential — you don’t even have to tell him your friend’s name.Here are some things to keep in mind when you do finally talk to your friend:
- Make sure the timing is right. Talk to your friend when they’re sober — before school is usually a good time.
- Tell your friend that you really care about them and are very worried about the direction they’re going in.
- Don’t accuse your friend of being a drug addict. Just let them know that things have been a little different lately, you’re worried, and you’re there to help.
- Tell your friend what you’ve seen when they use drugs. Be specific. Let your friend know that the stuff they did scared you and that you want to help.
- Try to watch your tone — don’t sound like you pity your friend or like you’re mad. Use the same tone of voice the two of you always use with each other.
- Don’t be surprised if they get angry. Your friend may say there’s nothing wrong and may get mad at you. This isn’t unusual — many drug users react this way.
- Find out where help is available. You must follow through if you offer to go with your friend to get help. It’s what happens after the conversation ends that will let your friend know that you’re really there for them.
- Know that you can make a huge difference by reaching out to help a friend, but that it ultimately is up to your friend to help him or herself succeed. Do not feel it is entirely your responsibility, or your fault, if things do not turn out as you hope.
OK, so I’m thinking about talking to my friend about his drug use. What’s going to happen to our friendship?
If you step in you might upset your friend, but if you don’t do something to help out, your friend could get seriously hurt or even die. When a friend’s problems include drug or alcohol abuse, it’s worth risking the friendship to save the life. Remember, to be a real friend, you should always have your friend’s best interests in mind. Eventually, he or she will realize that your actions were based on genuine concern. And if you pretend that something is not a problem, then you’re actually part of the problem. So bite the bullet and say what needs to be said. You won’t regret it.But you also need to take care of yourself. Make sure you talk to someone you trust about your feelings and your friend’s problem. Your parents, a teacher, a guidance counselor, or another adult in your life can help you understand and sort out your personal feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to somebody you know, join a support group for friends and family of addicts. Again, know that you can make a huge difference by reaching out to help a friend, but that it ultimately is up to your friend to help him or herself succeed. Do not feel it is entirely your responsibility, or your fault, if things do not turn out as you hope.