What to Do If You Discover a Friend Is Using Substances

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It can be extremely disheartening to learn a close friend has a problem with drugs. You want your loved one to seek substance abuse treatment, but you may not know where to begin.

If your friend approaches you about seeking help, then he or she has already made a critical first step. In the event the friend cannot admit to having a problem, then you have more to contend with. You need to be careful, which can start by recommending your friend to seek evaluation from an addiction specialist. Your friend needs your help during this time, and here are some ways to offer that assistance.

Ensure Your Friend That All Information Is Confidential

Many people avoid seeking treatment because they are afraid of what employers or family members will think. Fortunately, doctors are required by law to keep any medical treatment, including substance abuse treatment, confidential. Even if a person needs to take time off work for medical assistance, the doctor can simply say the employee is receiving treatment for a medical condition without going into details about what the condition is. This is guaranteed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Talk to the Friend Privately

While television shows and movies have popularized interventions where a person’s family and friends get together to encourage the person to seek treatment, there are many cases where these meetings backfire.  due to the person feeling ashamed or angry that family members have ganged up on them.  Interventions have their place but it is best to try and talk to your friend in private first.  Showing that you care and value your friend’s privacy is a good way to initially approach them.  Ultimately though, if nothing else works, your friend’s life may depend on him or her getting clean, and that will be the highest priority.

Avoid Enabling Any Negative Behaviors

Telling your friend to seek treatment will be met with various levels of success. However, at the end of the day, you can at least control your personal relationship with the addict. This can involve refusing to provide the person with money if asked, which could go toward drugs. You also do not have to make excuses for why the person is late for work or cannot pay bills. You don’t necessarily need to consider cutting the friend out of your life entirely, but you should make it clear that there are boundaries.

Offer Support and Love

In the event your friend goes through treatment, that is a great step, but there is something far more pressing he or she will have to contend with: re-entering society. This can be extremely difficult because your friend will not have the same support group of doctors around on a constant basis. You will need to be the one to encourage your friend to remain sober. You should talk to your friend about what triggers he or she has. Many people feel compelled to abuse substances again by simply driving through an area where the person used to take drugs. It is a tough battle, but you can be there.

If you are concerned about your friend’s well-being, then talk to him or her about going through the substance abuse program at High Focus Centers. Call us at 877-404-9956 to learn more about the curriculum. From intensive outpatient programs to medication assisted treatments, there are a number of ways to help the loved ones in your life.