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How Do I Help a Friend Who Is Struggling with Drug & Alcohol Addiction?

Last updated: Wednesday, 30, September 2020

When a friend is showing signs of drug and alcohol abuse, it can be hard to know what to do and say. When you abuse drugs, you are making a deliberate decision to use alcohol and drugs, and the abuse of these substances leads to addiction. You lose control and start to no longer care about the consequences of your actions caused by drug abuse. Addiction is physical and psychological, and many college students struggle with mild to severe addiction problems. Physical addiction is where the body becomes dependent on the drug and requires more to function. Psychological addiction involves a strong desire to use drugs, which cannot be overcome. The thought of using starts to consume your day and can no longer be avoided. It is difficult to watch a friend who is struggling with addiction, and you may have some concerns about how you get involved. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is one of the most preventable leading causes of death within the United States. Having mixed feelings about getting involved could mean that you are too late.

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You may believe that someone else will say something, or you could be waiting for someone else to speak up. If the past actions of your friend have hurt you, you could be struggling with putting this aside. The process starts with communication, and it is important not to talk to them while they are high or intoxicated. It is also a good idea to meet at a neutral place, which is not a college bar or a party. When people abuse drugs or alcohol, they tend to ignore the effect it has on the people around them. Drug and alcohol abuse is selfish, and the person is not paying attention to what it is doing to other people. Speak to your friend about the effect their drinking or drug use has on what the person cares about. An addict may not be concerned about their situation but can be about what their addiction is doing to others when it is pointed out. Discussing the impact of their addiction and even showing them is the most successful way to intervene. Reality does start to sink in, and they soon realize what their drug use is doing to others.

Be aware of the treatment and recovery resources on campus, such as what student health services may provide. Have a phone number available, or someone lined up they can speak to and start the process of getting help. It is one thing convincing them there is a problem, but if an addict knows there is no solution, they can easily justify their continued abuse of drugs. Have a solution ready for them, whether this is a toll-free number or visiting a treatment resource locally. While attending college, seeking help for addiction is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means that you cannot be expelled from college or lose your tuition if you choose to get help for an addiction. Along with this, most colleges have a medical leave policy in place to help students petition for a leave of absence and pick up their classes when they return.


Nickolaus Hayes - Author

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