You have a close friend that struggles with alcoholism. You want to be a good friend and assist in any way you can. Feeling lost? Don’t know where to start? You don’t know if you should start. Is this something they have to regulate on their own, or can you do something to assist? In all actuality you can help — and should be — an important part of your friend’s recovery support system. Please read below to find suggestions on how you can be a healthy part of your loved one’s recovery.
HOW YOU CAN BE A SUPPORTIVE FRIEND TO SOMEONE WHO IS DRINKING IN EXCESS
The best way to be a good friend to someone struggling with alcoholism is to speak your mind in a non-judgmental way. If you feel worried about a friend’s drinking, even if you aren’t directly related, you can consider an intervention. The intervention process has been highly dramatized by television but it’s actually more of an informal process than you might think. It can be as simple as a few conversations or as formal as a calm, loving group meeting guided by an industry professional. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests first talking to your friend and suggest they speak with a medical healthcare provider. 1. If your friend does not want to take this step, it may be time to call a specialist and learn more about your next approach.
HOW CAN YOU BE A GOOD FRIEND BEFORE REHABILITATION
There is plenty you can do to help before rehabilitation. If he or she agrees to treatment then GREAT! However, they might not express this, but at this time they need your support more than ever. Being there for emotional support can be an integral piece to their recovery. At this time, it’s best to plan out some details that will assist in their stay. For example, you can do the following:
- Offer to drive your friend to the airport or directly to treatment if it’s relatively close
- Go over lists of approved or suggested items in order to help your friend pack (Be sure and read what items are allowed at The Springboard Center here)
- Offer to pet sit while they are away
- Stop by your friends place of residence and pick up the mail or keep things in order while they are gone. If your friend plans on coming back home, it’s best they return to a clean and tidy house.
Primarily, you can just be present for your friend and assist them during the ups and downs they may be experiencing before heading to treatment. Helping your friend stay positive may quell any fears or anxiety they might have before leaving. Remember, staying non-judgmental is key.
HOW TO STAY SUPPORTIVE WHILE YOUR FRIEND IS IN TREATMENT
Although the success of your friend is solely the responsibility of him or her you can still provide support while they are away. The Springboard center offers three, 10-minute phone passes per week. Families and friends are allowed to visit on Sundays with approval from their counselor. If the counselor approves, feel free to visit and express your support. This makes a big difference in their own recovery process. More information on this can be found here.
How does your friend’s addiction affect you? Addiction affects everyone, not just the person who drinks. You might be surprised to learn just how much your friend’s alcoholism has influenced your actions, thoughts, mental health and overall happiness. Considering your own therapy might be a good idea depending on your situation. It can also help you set healthy boundaries and end any potentially enabling behaviors.
Next week we will cover how to be a supportive friend after your loved one leaves treatment and the options you have to help with their transition back to “normal” life.
1. “What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, January 2016.
The Springboard Center’s addiction treatment programs are tailored to meet the needs of each client. By utilizing a set of diverse methods of addiction treatment, we are able to deal with your addiction from all angles and concentrate on every aspect of your healing process. It is important to recognize that many of our services offer a group setting and environment, so that the client spends time with other people affected by the same chronic disease and problems. 432-620-0255