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When a Friend is a Drug Addict or Alcoholic

Songwriting dynamos Lennon and McCartney wrote, “I get by with a little help from my friends/I get high with a little help from my friends.” The song was recorded in 1967, and was a major hit for the Beatles, coming in at No. 61 on the Rolling Stone ranking of the 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. This song might be popular, but the message is not quite helpful, and so far there have been few, if any, songs about what friends can do in order to prevent their friends from getting high. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing you can to do help if your friend has an alcohol or drug problem.

Allowing Consequences to Take Place

As a friend, you might not live with the addicted person or share major responsibilities for raising children or paying bills. However, there might be aspects of your life in which you have the ability to shield the person from the consequences of the addiction. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 75 percent of all illicit drug users hold down jobs, and most heavy drinkers and binge drinkers do the same.

If you and your friend work together, you might be tempted to lie about the person’s addiction, when asked, or take over work for your friend so the employer won’t find out about the addiction if the person is high or feels ill. Taking on duties like this might actually allow the addiction to strengthen, as the person might not truly understand how the addiction is harmful. There’s no need to rat your friend out to the bosses, of course, but simply stepping back and allowing the addiction to do its damage could allow your friend to understand how the addiction is dangerous, and why it shouldn’t keep moving forward.

Learning More

The best way to help your friend is to learn more about addictions, and how they can be effectively treated in the best exclusive inpatient or outpatient rehab center. This site will provide you with a significant amount of information, but if you’d like to learn yet more, consider attending an Al-Anon meeting. Here, you’ll have the chance to meet other people who are also struggling with the same issues you’re facing.

Providing Alternatives

People with addictions often endure chemical changes within their brains that make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to simply stop abusing drugs on their own. Even if your friend wants to stop using, that person might not be physically able to do that without help. With treatment, your friend can get better, and you can help by refusing to support the addiction. A study in the journal Addiction suggests that social support from friends is more important in the development of alcoholism than a genetic propensity for alcoholism. If friends can help people from becoming alcoholics, perhaps friends can also help their friends to amend their ways. From this point forward:

  • Make a point not to drink or use drugs in the presence of your friend.
  • Avoid places where you both took drugs or drank heavily.
  • Steer clear of parties in which you’ll both be tempted to use.
  • Come up with fun activities you can do that don’t involve drugs.

If you’d like to address the issue directly and speak to the person about the risks of an ongoing addiction issue, please call us. We’re happy to talk with you about the addiction process, and perhaps help steer you to treatment programs that could help your friend to get better.