Confronting a friend with a drug problem

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Speaking up to a friend with a drug problem may feel like an intimidating task.

But according to research from Hazelden, 41 percent of addicts and alcoholics say that they would have gotten help sooner if a family or friend voiced concerns about their problems.

It may not be an easy thing to address, but with the right preparation and mindset, your encouragement may just be the thing that saves a life.

Talk sober

Don't attempt to talk to your friend when he or she is using drugs or coming down off of them. Find a time when the person is sober, or take advantage of the period after a drug has worn off – when the person is most likely to be remorseful about his or her behavior. That way the drug use is fresh in this person's mind and may enable the individual to be more receptive to what you say.

Bring a support person

It may be helpful to bring along a friend or family member who can understand the addict's position. Someone who is already in recovery or who has affiliations with Narcotics Anonymous might be able to help convey the message in a way that impacts him or her more significantly. If you aren't able to bring someone with you, let a loved one or friend know where you are and ask this person to be available by phone should you need assistance or support.

Don't blame or criticize

No matter how terrible a person has behaved under the influence or because of his or her addiction, remember that this person isn't inherently bad. Avoid blaming or criticizing the person, and instead focus on expressing your concern for the individual's well-being and happiness.

Be specific

When talking to your friend about his or her behavior, try to be specific. Point out different instances where the person's behavior negatively impacted you, the addict or the addict's loved ones. This isn't so much quoting a laundry list of things the person has done wrong, but giving concrete examples to showcase just how uncontrollable the behavior has become.

Write it down

Approaching a friend with a drug problem is a sensitive issue, so if you're nervous about saying the right thing, write down your thoughts beforehand. Stick to just the facts and resist the urge to minimize your concerns or the person's past behavior. Be firm but kind.

Finally, realize that while your intentions are good, that does not mean your friend will be receptive to what you're saying. Be prepared for this. Try to let go of the outcome, knowing that just by speaking up you are doing everything in your power to help. What the addict chooses to do with that information is beyond your control.

Source: Hazelden

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