You might think it would be pretty obvious if your friend were dealing with an addiction, but it’s not always that easily identifiable. The truth is, those who abuse drugs, alcohol, and other substances often know how to mask their troubles from others.

As a friend, however, you might get the feeling that something is up. Maybe a change in their behaviour, financial status or appearance has you wondering what’s going on. Whatever the case might be, as their friend, it’s your job to step in and lend a helping hand.

Below are some tips on how to help a friend who’s struggling with addiction.

Do Some Research

Before you approach your friend on what you believe to be his issue with addiction, it’s a good idea to know what you’re talking about. Educate yourself on the severities of addiction. For instance, knowing what the signs are is important. Some signs of addiction might include:

-  Using a substance more frequently or participating in an activity like going to the casino, eating, or playing video games more than normal.

- Change in their behaviour.

- Change in their mood such as anger, sadness or anxiety.

- Change in their physical appearance such as poor hygiene, pale skin, excessive weight loss or gain.

- Increasing financial troubles.

- Isolation from daily activities.

Find Solutions

Another aspect of research that could prove beneficial before approaching your friend about your concerns would be resources for help. Should you approach your friend and he wants to get help, you need to have some options to talk about. There are plenty of avenues he could take towards recovery, however, many find that rehab programs, such as those offered by Reflections Rehab, are best. Rehab programs provide a safe environment for participants to kick their habit, treat the underlying cause of their addiction, and ultimately learn new methods of coping and adapting to life. Review various facilities and programs so that you have a few choices for your friend.

Time to Speak Up

Timing is everything when it comes to speaking to your friend about his issue. It’s probably not a good idea to talk to your bro about his alcohol addiction while he’s wasted. Chances are he isn’t going to hear a word you’re saying. It’s also not a good idea to speak to him in large crowds or environments where he might feel disrespected or embarrassed. Wait until you two are alone and sober to discuss the issue.

Listening is Important

As you talk with him about his problem, be sure that you’re not the only one doing the talking. After you’ve laid out your concerns you need to allow him the opportunity to express his feelings. Skip the judgmental talk, nagging, and complaining and just hear him out. Even if what he’s saying sounds completely outlandish, it’s important that you listen. When you listen to what he says, he’s more inclined to get help knowing that you’re there to support him and not simply there to make him feel worse about himself.

Understand Help Can’t be Forced

Not all addicts are receptive when someone tries to reach out and help them. If your friend isn’t ready to be helped, there is absolutely nothing you can do to save him. If he denies your support, or even worse denies the fact that there is a problem to begin with, simply accept that and be there when he is ready to make a change. There is not enough lecturing in the world to make a man feel like doing something he doesn’t want or doesn’t feel he should do, so don’t push it. Doing so could cause him to isolate himself from you altogether.

Don’t Gossip

After talking with your friend about the issue, no matter what the outcome is, you should probably keep it to yourself. Addiction is a very serious and personal issue and telling too many people will make your friend feel like he’s the butt of a joke. If you want to talk to others that you know care about him, that’s one thing, but talking about it in a negative light is never a good idea.

Know When to Fold Em’

When you care about your friend deeply, you can find yourself easily becoming consumed with their addiction. Sleepless nights, stressful days, difficulty eating, and so on are signs that you’re in too deep. If your friend’s behavior begins to impact your life it may be time to cut him off. It may be a difficult process for you, but ultimately it is what’s best for both of you. Being an enabler or consuming your day with worry will only make matters worse. Let your friend know that you care, but until they get their act together you’ll have to care from afar.

Addiction is a serious illness that plagues millions of people each year. If you suspect that your friend is struggling with addiction it is important to speak up. Educate yourself on the signs, review available resources for help, and then talk to him about it in a calm manner. Hopefully he is receptive and willing to get help for the problem, but if not, you have to be man enough to show your friend tough love by walking away. 

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