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Dr. Romance on To Help An Addicted Friend

Dr. Romance on To Help An Addicted Friend

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Published by Tina B. Tessina
Dr. Romance answers the question of how to help an addicted friend.
Dr. Romance answers the question of how to help an addicted friend.

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Published by: Tina B. Tessina on Oct 25, 2013
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Dr. Romance on To Help An Addicted Friend
I’ve been talking with clients a lot recently about what to do if someone you love or care for is self 
destructing through addiction, or is making it difficult to be a friend because they’re out of control. We all
have had some dramatic examples on television and in the news recently which illustrate how crazyaddiction can look. Of course, addiction is devastating to a friendship. Frequently, people who are caughtin an addiction or compulsion overstress their friends and family, sometimes to a point of dragging themdown, too.
Most addiction involves spending money: for drugs, alcohol, or uncontrolled overspending (shopping,gambling, speculative investing, etc.) legal fees from DUIs, lost jobs and income, hospital costs, andmyriad other gratuitous costs, so an addict may borrow or cost you money and not pay it back. It alsoinvolves betrayal, because addiction is usually a clandestine thing -- the addict knows there's some kindof a problem, even if he or she is not admitting to addiction, and often uses friends to hide the problem.
When a friend learns he or she has been used, the most devastating part is the sense of betrayal.Friendships do survive if the addicted person gets treatment and becomes clean and sober, but it's noteasy. While a your friend is out of control, they are not available to be a good friend, so you may need tokeep your distance.
To help a friend with a substance abuse problem:
1. Get informed about options. Before attempting to help, make sure you know what the options are for your friend. Al-anon (http://www.al-anon.org/ or 1-888-4Al-anon) is an organization for the friends,spouses and family members of alcoholics, and the other twelve step groups have helpful informationabout various addictions. To educate yourself and get info for your friend, you can go to the www.AA.orgwebsite for helpful information and articles on addiction.
2. Find expert help. An addict or alcoholic has impaired impulse control, so just telling him or her tochange won't work. Expert help is needed. You need resources so you can offer him a program, rehab, or suggest therapy. You can find options at http://www.soberrecovery.com/ which has a directory where youcan seek services in your area. You and your friends may also decide you need to have an Intervention,which means gettting together in a formal way to confront the person with the problem, and pressure thatperson to get help. Interventions are most successful when in Interventionist (a therapist who specializedin them) is consulted beforehand.
3. Gather a support system: Find some friends or family members you can trust to be helpful (or who are
in recovery themselves), and talk to them to find out what they know about the situation, and if they’d bewilling to help. If you’re not sure about
the extent of the substance abuse problem, they may be able toconfirm your fears, or set them at rest. If you find that your fears are confirmed, make it clear to everyonethat your friend has a real problem. Make a plan for what each of you are willing to do to help. Someonewho is knowledgeable may volunteer to take your friend to a meeting, or support you in confronting your mutual friend.
4. Create a time and place to talk to your friend. Once the first three steps are in place, you need to talk tothe friend. If you, a relative, or one of the other friends can get him or her alone, away from work or other 
friends, do so. This is a very personal issue, and very painful for everyone involved, so it’s important that
you make this first step private.
5. Describe the problem and offer help. Once you get your friend alone, tell him or her what you knowabout the situation.
* Give evidence, times and dates of instances where you felt this friend was in danger or endangeringothers, or perhaps risking a job
or other friendships. (if it’s drunken, out of control or drugged behavior, avideo from your cell phone can be very helpful) This may mortify your friend, but it’s important that he or 
she knows you know.
*Say you care, you’re willing to help if your friend wants help, and what you can do to help. Don’t just refer 
your friend to the website or phone numbers. Give him or her all the details you can, and be willing to takehim or her by the hand to a meeting or session. The alcoholic/addict needs to know you are willing tosupport getting clean, abstinent, or sober.
*She or he may tell you I'm fine, I don’t need help. or even be angry at you. In that case, don’t get angryor annoyed. Instead, say if he or she ever needs help, you’re available. Remember, you
r friend is
probably feeling hopeless and helpless, and perhaps even worthless. He or she’ll need friends for support
every step of the way.
6. Take steps to prevent disaster. If your friend is endangering himself or someone else (driving drunkwith friends or family in the car, for example) you may need to get tough, take the keys away, call thepolice. If your friend is violent, get a restraining order and call 911 if he or she violates it. This is verydifficult, but it could be the event that gets your friend help. If this person's behavior is making your lifemiserable, you may have to drop him or her as a friend. If you find you must let go, please tell your friend
why you’re backing away. Sometimes the loss of a friendship can be the impetus to go to
AA or treatment.

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