My Friend Has a Drug Problem, What Do I Do?

Friends and addict.

There are two different groups of people who seek help for drug and alcohol addiction. The first is the group of individuals who are themselves struggling with drug problems. Then there are those who are seeking help for a family member or loved one who is struggling. These are the moms, dads, spouses, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, etc.

People who do not struggle with a drug habit themselves but who have a loved one who struggles, are often at a loss for what to do. So they turn to the internet for help.

But what about the friends of addicts? Here’s something we don’t hear as much about. There’s a mountain of resources on the internet for families of addicts, but there’s a shortage of information and resources for friends of addicts.

Having studied this subject and having myself faced the problem of close friends who had drug problems, I thought I’d put together some quick advice for anyone out there who might be seeking help for a friend.

First Off, Don’t Become Permissive about Your Friend’s Drug Problem

In this aspect, you have a significant advantage over the family members of your friend. Your friend’s mom and dad will probably be a little lax as to your friend’s habit or lifestyle. What are they going to do? It’s their kid after all. But this is itself also a form of enablement, and parents should avoid being at all agreeable about their son’s or daughter’s habit.

You on the other hand, are not beholden to the constraints of a familial, blood relationship. You can quickly and decisively tell your friend that you are not okay with their drug use. Yes, they might distance themselves from you for a time, but you can continue to try and help them just as long as they know you do not accept their drug use or heavy drinking.

Identify the Issue

Misdirection is a hallmark of addiction. Not only do addicts misdirect those who try to help them, but they mislead themselves, too. Deep down, addicts want to get help, and they want to get better. But because they can’t confront the prospect of doing so, they misdirect their thought processes to make their drug habit seem less severe. A big part of your task in helping your loved one is going to come down to identifying what the problem is.

The best way to do this is to point out real-life examples where your loved one harmed himself or herself or someone they cared about as a direct result of their drug use or drinking. Use practical examples—actual instances where your friend’s habit harmed those around him. Cases of theft, overdose, reckless driving, damage of property or possessions, lying to family members, getting into fights, causing a disturbance while under the influence, etc. These are all examples of drug or alcohol abuse that should be pointed out as evidence of what the issue is.

Persistence Is Everything

A man talking with addict.

Leading in from that last point on identifying the issue, another critical approach is to persist and to keep persisting until your friend sees the truth behind your efforts to help them and agrees to seek help for their drug problem.

Addicts give us lots of opportunities to give up. But the truth is, we don’t lose until we give up, just like with anything else in life. Defeat is not realized until you stop trying. It seems so often that trying to help an addict get clean is merely a battle of wills; his will to keep using drugs versus your intention to convince him to stop using drugs. If you commit yourself 100% to maintaining your will for as long as it takes, your friend will come around and see the truth in your statements.

Doing Something Is Always Better Than Doing Nothing

I’ve seen too many people lose a friend to a drug overdose and then immediately wallow in the grief of feeling like they didn’t do enough to try and help their friend. Don’t let this be you. It is true that you cannot single-handedly make your friend stop using drugs or alcohol. He is the only one who can do that. But you can give it your all to convince him to get better. If he still succumbs to a fatal end, you will know that you did everything you could to help him.

Even if your friend has distanced himself from you, just doing something every day as an effort to get him help is better than doing nothing at all. You can give him a brief phone call expressing your concern, or a text, a personal visit, a letter, etc. And if your friend has blocked all forms of communication and won’t meet with you, you can connect with family members, friends, and even treatment center experts to see what should be done next to help your friend.

Still at a Loss for What to Do? Narconon Provides Resources and Helpful Material

Narconon reception.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re not getting anywhere, don’t lose your resolve or your commitment to helping your friend. It’s not your fault he hasn’t come around yet. You likely made a great deal of progress with him; he just needs an extra little nudge to convince him that seeking treatment is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the only thing to do.

Narconon is not only able to offer fantastic, comprehensive, and long-term residential recovery programs for people who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, but Narconon staff are also quite skilled in helping addicts to understand the need to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you are feeling at a loss for what to do, like your friend simply isn’t going to see reason, contact Narconon today to speak with an expert. With two heads always being better than one, we’ll do our best to assist you in convincing your friend to seek help.

Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, MCAP, RAS



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.