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Helping a Friend Who Has Substance Use Disorder

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Knowing someone who has a substance use disorder can be frustrating and leave you feeling helpless.  If you are in a similar situation, you want to do whatever you can to help your friend.  But, like many people, you aren’t sure where to begin or even if you should interfere at all.  

Rather than give up on your friend, here are some things you can do to motivate your friend into reaching out for professional help.

Learn the Facts About Substance Use Disorder

Substance Use DisorderThe more you know about why addictions happen, the better prepared you’ll be to help your addicted friend.  Each person with SUD has their own reasons for using drugs or alcohol.  Nonetheless, the basics of SUD remain the same: long-term substance use will damage a person’s physical and mental health and eventually affect all aspects of their lives.  

Below are additional facts about addiction (SUD) you should know that will contribute to helping your friend agree to seek treatment.

Know the Definition of Substance Use Disorder (Addiction)

The fine line between substance abuse and addiction is often difficult to recognize.  To clarify the distinction, The American Psychological Association provides these definitions:

Substance abuse is a pattern of compulsive substance use marked by recurrent significant social, occupational, legal, or interpersonal adverse consequences, such as repeated absences from work or school, arrests, and marital difficulties.’

Addiction is a state of psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs. The term is often used as an equivalent term for substance dependence and sometimes applied to behavioral disorders, such as sexual, internet, and gambling addictions.’

Typically, the two terms are used interchangeably to describe the inordinate use of drugs or alcohol.  In either case, the individual will need professional addiction treatment to overcome it.

Watch for the Signs of Substance Abuse

Some people with SUD find creative ways to hide the signs and symptoms. Despite their creativity, there are some common signs and symptoms that might suggest your friend needs help.

Does your friend display any of the following?

  • Appears tired, moody, angry, or depressed
  • Lacks interest in personal hygiene
  • Hangs out with a group of people known for substance use
  • Avoids previously enjoyed activities
  • Isolates themself from family, friends, coworkers
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Unable to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home
  • Continues using despite negative consequences
  • Engages in risky behaviors when using the substance
  • Lying, stealing, and manipulative behavior
  • Money issues
  • Legal problems

Generally, SUD will cause changes in all areas of your friend’s life.  The changes will be physical, psychological, behavioral, academic, social, and professional.

How to Convince Your Friend to Seek Treatment

In some states, a person can be forced into rehab by law if they meet specific requirements for involuntary admission.  But, you don’t necessarily want that to happen to your addicted friend if it can be avoided.  Although it can save a person’s life, involuntary commitment is not always the best approach.  People who enter rehab on their own accord are more likely to succeed in recovery.

If your friend refuses to seek help, find out the reasons why.  For instance, your friend may have fears about detox and withdrawals.  Or, your friend believes their addiction isn’t bad enough to require rehab.  Whatever their reason, a solution is available.  

People with SUD avoid rehab for many reasons. Part of their reluctance stems from a lack of knowledge about the process.  With that in mind, here are some things you can discuss with your friend about addiction treatment:

The more information you provide, the more likely it is that your friend will seek help.  On the other hand, if they still refuse rehab, you can consider staging an intervention.  

Choosing a Rehab for Substance Use Disorder

Despite your best efforts and intentions, your friend may still refuse to enter rehab.  But, before staging an intervention, seek advice from a professional interventionist.  Typically, an interventionist will recommend that you make arrangements with a rehab facility beforehand.  That way, if your friend agrees to treatment, he or she can be escorted to the facility immediately.  

Of course, choosing the right rehab for substance abuse disorder can be difficult.  The variety of options, locations, and treatment philosophies confuse most people.  So, here are a few suggestions of what to look for in a quality program:

If you or a friend needs treatment for substance use disorder, Design for Change Recovery meets all of the above criteria and more.  Contact our Lancaster, CA facility today to learn more about our innovative, customized treatment programs.  One of our treatment specialists will help you choose the right treatment approach for your specific needs.

Source:– Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction

Helping a Friend Who Has Substance Use Disorder