Helping a Friend Struggling With Addiction
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Updated: July 26, 2022

Helping a Friend Struggling With Addiction

If you have a friend struggling with addiction, you probably wonder how you can help them. Offering help is not an easy path to follow and has many obstacles along the way. However, your friend will have an increased chance of overcoming their addiction with your support.

What Not to Do

It can be hard to know what to say to a friend showing signs of alcohol or drug abuse. You don’t want to offend them, but you want to speak up to help them. What do you say? How do you start the conversation?

The dos and don’ts can be confusing, but here are some you should know.

Do Not Judge Them; Educate Yourself

It can be easy to become upset or angry at a friend who struggles with addiction. However, it is crucial to understand that addiction is a disease; no one wakes up one morning and decides to become an addict.

Therefore, avoid blaming your friend for their substance abuse or looking down on them for being addicted. Addiction is not within their control. Your friend faces the stigma that society associates with addiction. Your loved one requires support from you, not judgment.

If this is your first experience being exposed to substance abuse, you may be misinformed about addiction, its impact, and how it affects the user. Do your research on addiction to better understand what your friend is going through. The more informed you are, the more you will be able to help them.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provide helpful resources.

Do Not Ignore the Problem; Address the Issue

No one ever imagines that addiction will happen to someone they know. When it does, it may not be easy to accept. You may want to ignore the signs of addiction, make excuses for your friend, or minimize the severity of their addiction.

However,  trying to persuade yourself that their addiction isn’t a problem, or is just a phase that will pass, is hurting your friend more. Addiction is a progressive disease, meaning your friend will only worsen with more substance abuse.

Understand that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. While facing your friend about their addiction can be overwhelming, it is a meaningful conversation that needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Some ways to better prepare for this conversation include talking to a professional, approaching your friend when sober, and writing down what you want to say beforehand. Try your best to stay composed, be vulnerable and honest, and let them know that you are there to support them through their treatment process.

Do Not Enable Them; Set Boundaries

Watching a friend’s life collapse is tiring and challenging, and you are probably doing everything you can to help. However, there is a fine line between helping and enabling when addiction is involved.

Some typical ways that friends enable their loved ones include paying their bills, giving them money, lying for them, bailing them out of jail, and overlooking or justifying their behavior. Acknowledge your behavior and ask yourself if you are sincerely helping them or unintentionally enabling them to continue their addiction.

Setting boundaries plays a vital role in securing your well-being, and it will hopefully motivate your friend to seek help. Common boundaries involve not permitting your friend to consume alcohol or drugs when they are with you, setting rules to remain in your life, and refusing to bail them out of jail or helping with financial problems. Remember, you must follow through once you set a boundary, no matter how tough it is.

Do Not Give Up On Them; Research Treatments

Battling addiction is challenging, but it is possible. Having a support system can make all the difference. You will probably become irritated or discouraged if your friend refuses to get help or if they relapse, but don’t give up on them. If you give up on them, they are more likely to give up altogether.

When it comes to addiction, ultimatums or forcing your friend into treatment might work momentarily. However, if they are not ready to stop using, they are likely to relapse when they leave treatment.

Your friend might not be ready to accept your help, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do. You can begin researching different addiction treatment centers. The more knowledgeable you are about addiction, treatment, and relapse prevention, the more equipped you will be when they are ready to get better.

Many people battling addiction don't realize how much their friends or family love them. It is essential to be supportive and let them know that you'll support them through their journey to recovery. A bit of support can go a long way in addiction treatment. Present Moments Recovery center in San Diego, California, provides a unique and personalized approach to treatment with many levels of care to promote a successful recovery. Our outpatient programs and aftercare can help form a firm foundation for your recovery while assisting you in acquiring emotional regulation and independent living skills. Present Moments Recovery center provides a support system that remains the same throughout treatment, so you can always feel like family. Let our skilled and caring team of professionals help. Call us today and learn more about our effective treatment services at (619) 363-4767.


If you or a loved one is looking for an effective drug rehab in San Diego, call 619-363-4767. One of our caring members is ready to answer all of your questions.

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