Substance abuse is a disease that is extremely common in the United States. Whether someone misuses prescription medications or seeks out illicit street drugs, they may develop a serious problem that can lead to a variety of mental and physical disorders.
Sometimes you want to help someone even when you don’t know exactly how to. When you know someone who is using drugs, it’s natural for you to want to stop them from developing or continuing further with a substance abuse issue. Additionally, when you are close to someone and suspect they are using drugs, you might be inclined to identify and solve the problem. Luckily, if you think or know that a friend of yours is using drugs, there are ways to successfully recognize/understand the problem and help them in an effective way.
If you have a friend that is using drugs, you may be asking yourself, “what do I do?” While there is no black-and-white answer for what to do when your friend is using drugs, we hope to provide a little insight regarding how to help. Taking action and doing or saying something sooner rather than later may make a world of difference in your friend’s recovery process.
How To Tell If Someone Is Abusing Drugs
The first step is to be certain that your friend is using drugs. If you’re suspicious but uncertain about a friend’s drug use, look out for the following signs:
● Causing more conflicts with you, their other friends, and their family
● Changing friend groups and abandoning you for new friends
● Having financial problems or an unusual need for money
● Losing interest in things they used to enjoy & preferring new activities
● Stealing prescription medications from you or their other friends or family
● Trying to hide their drug use from you or others
● Having trouble with normal, everyday activities (cooking and working)
● Having trouble with school, work, and other personal relationships
● Displaying a lack of motivation and productivity
● Neglecting personal hygiene and daily routines
● Having shakes or tremors
● Changes in weight, either extreme gain or loss
● Having bloodshot eyes or frequent nose bleeds
● Being agitated or irritable more frequently
● Sleeping or eating more or less than usual
After you figure out that a friend of yours is using drugs, it’s important to take action to help them as soon as possible.
What Should You Do If Your Friend Is On Drugs?
Even though there is no specific formula for how to approach a situation in which your friend is using drugs, there are some strategies that may help them seek the help they require.
First, it’s crucial to understand your friend’s addiction before talking to them about it. This will require educating yourself on addiction and researching your friend’s drug of choice. It may also be beneficial to look up some recovery resources that could help your friend if they decide to seek treatment.
Once you complete your research, you might have to do a little pre-conversation planning. For example, you have to focus on building trust with your friend so they will listen to you when you approach them with your concerns. Make a point before talking to them that you should not criticize them, threaten them, or shame them during this conversation. Instead, give them the respect they deserve and the space they need to share their feelings as well.
Remember to only have this type of conversation with your friend when they are sober and clear-minded. When you start talking to your friends about your concerns regarding their drug use, you should be honest before anything else. Let them know how their drug use is affecting you and your relationship so they understand the impact they are having. Furthermore, you may want to give specific examples of behaviors they displayed in the past that point to dangerous drug use.
You should also expect difficulties to come up during your conversation. Your friend might feel embarrassed, refuse change, deny their problems, or fear consequences of seeking treatment. However, listening to them and understanding their perspective may make them feel heard. When someone with an addiction feels heard and supported, they may have a change of heart.
Supporting Someone With A Substance Abuse Disorder
Above all, it’s important to you to get help for yourself as you support someone who is using drugs. While you need to show them unconditional love, you need to extend that toward yourself as well. It’s recommended to develop stress management strategies, go to therapy, or even participate in support groups for those who have friends or relatives with substance abuse disorders.
To learn more about how to approach someone that is using drugs, contact our team of substance abuse specialists by calling 866-488-8684.