Help­ing a Friend on DRUGS

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Susie Flash­man Jarvis De­sign Olha Blagodir

Itis so hard to help some­one on drugs, es­pe­cially if they are in de­nial. Ad­dic­tion is some­thing that is of­ten kept se­cret, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to con­front some­one who is caught in its grip. It has many lay­ers, all hid­den un­der de­cep­tion. In fact, ad­dicts usu­ally be­lieve the lies they tell them­selves and oth­ers. So, the chal­lenge is to find a way to break through the ve­neer to find the per­son un­der­neath.

Hav­ing worked as a ther­a­pist for many years, I have of­ten had to chal­lenge un­healthy life­styles that in­volve ad­dic­tive be­hav­iour. For me, it is eas­ier to do be­cause I have a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with the client. I usu­ally know a great deal about the client, of­ten more than fam­ily and friends and so can see clearly with­out the hin­drance of in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships get­ting in the way.

So how can you help your friend with ad­dic­tion?

It will de­pend on some fac­tors:

• How close are you?

• How ro­bust is your re­la­tion­ship?

• How hon­est are you with your own strug­gles?

• How open are they to re­ceiv­ing sup­port?

It is dif­fi­cult to chal­lenge some­one about be­ing on drugs, if you don’t have a close re­la­tion­ship, as they will most likely be­come de­fen­sive. If you are con­cerned and know some­one who is closer to the per­son than you, maybe it’s best to speak to them about your con­cerns and con­struct a plan to­gether. The ad­dic­tion will cer­tainly be af­fect­ing the wider fam­ily and friends and the im­pact on them can be some­thing that you can speak about. If they have chil­dren, you are en­ter­ing a whole new arena. There are le­gal im­pli­ca­tions re­gard­ing their safety and you will need to con­sider this.

You may be a work col­league who has be­come aware of the prob­lem. It may also be in­flu­enc­ing their work. This will give you an­other way of con­fronting it. Usu­ally drugs start to take their toll by af­fect­ing time keep­ing, work out­put, re­la­tion­ships and self-care. In some or­gan­i­sa­tions, there is sup­port in place to help staff. Coach­ing or coun­selling may be avail­able and if ac­cessed, would en­able them to dis­cover the root cause be­hind the prob­lem.

Emo­tional knowl­edge is im­por­tant in dis­cussing del­i­cate sub­jects. It in­volves stat­ing some­thing in a man­ner that gives the per­son some­thing spe­cific to re­ply to.

It is very im­por­tant how you phrase your ques­tions. Try th­ese:

• I have no­ticed that you are not eat­ing well, why is that?

• I am con­cerned about you, I think you are tak­ing drugs. What would help you?

• You seem to have lost your zest for life, what can I do to help you?

What, why, who, when and where ques­tions, are open ques­tions and re­quire more than a yes or no an­swer.

If you have been hon­est with your friend about your own life, then you are bet­ter placed to just speak up. They are less likely to think that you see your­self as su­pe­rior to them, if they have been a sound­ing board for you on oc­ca­sions too.

Ini­tially, it would be best if you found out what av­enues there are to sup­port them and maybe you could of­fer to at­tend with them. There are groups that deal with spe­cific ad­dic­tions, Nar­cotics Anony­mous (NA) for drug tak­ers, Al­co­holics Anony­mous (AA) for al­co­holics. There are some dif­fer­ences be­tween NA and AA, as al­co­holics tended to be pure al­co­holics and ad­dicts are pure ad­dicts, but in the cur­rent world of sub­stance abuse, cross-ad­dic­tion seems to be a bit more preva­lent, so choos­ing what pro­gram is right for you, is im­por­tant. See this site for more in­for­ma­tion on NA and AA.

There are also Re­cov­ery Groups run in churches based on the same 12 Step Pro­gramme that AA and NA use. Th­ese groups are for ev­ery­one, not just Chris­tians and they work with all ad­dic­tions.

In the end, the only way to help some­one on drugs is to con­front them, while still be­liev­ing in them as peo­ple. Don’t let it be­come the ele­phant in the room. If you know for sure that they are in trou­ble, take a deep breath, take all the in­for­ma­tion you have on sup­port groups etc, as well as your con­cerns, then bite the bul­let.

Only a true friend can speak the truth.


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