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Helping A Friend With Addiction

Drug addiction or alcohol addiction can take over someone’s life and lead them down a dark and twisted path. Helping a friend with addiction can be hard, it’s never easy to see someone you care about go through this dangerous, addictive cycle. To make matters worse, it’s often hard to approach the subject with them. 

supportive-family-1 Helping A Friend With Addiction

You want to help, but you’re not sure how. The good news is, there are plenty of ways you can help a friend with an addiction. By lending them your support, you can lead your addicted friend down the road to recovery. 

 

Of course, there is only so much you can do. While your support will mean the world to an addict friend, they’ll often need professional treatment options to get them clean. This involves using a residential rehab centre and undergoing a detox

 

So, if you’re looking to learn how to help an addicted friend, then here are some key considerations to be aware of:

 

Understanding why people take drugs

A drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight. It occurs with regular use, and your friend will slowly build up a dependency on certain substances. It’ll feel like they can’t function properly without it, which is what keeps bringing them back to the drug. 

 

The question is; why do people do drugs or drink alcohol, to begin with? If you can figure out what pushed someone to take drugs, then it may help you lend some support and advice on how to kick the habit. 

 

Commonly, people take drugs to: 

 

  • Fit in with their friends – This is a common reason that many people first get into drugs or alcohol. If all of your friends are doing it, then you don’t want to feel left out. So, your friend may just be trying to fit in, but that pushed them down the slippery slope towards addiction. 

 

  • Relax and socialise – Similarly, people like to drink alcohol or take drugs for recreational reasons. A lot of people smoke marijuana as a way of relaxing with friends – it’s seen as a viable way of socialising on weekends. The same goes for alcohol; people go out to pubs and drink for hours on end. It’s just seen as the standard way of doing things, no different from going out and watching the football or seeing a movie. 

 

  • Try new things – Most people’s first experiences with drugs come when they’re looking to experiment. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘you only live once,’ and this encourages individuals to try new things, just to see how they feel. 

 

  • Escape – Lastly, lots of people turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape. This is where drug addiction is perhaps at its most dangerous. If your friend is using substances to escape from their reality, then it will be tough to get them to stop. Typically, people do this when they’re experiencing troubles in their life. Perhaps a family member has died, or maybe they’re suffering from mental health issues like depression/anxiety. As such, they turn to drugs as a release from these evil thoughts and bad times, giving them away to feel carefree. 

 

Naturally, you may not know why your friend is taking drugs. But, if you look at the points above, you may be able to work out what pushed them into trying drugs. If you know that their parents died or that they’ve been struggling with something in their life, then the chances are they turned to drugs as an escape. The only way to know for sure is to speak to them about it. 

 

How to tell if your friend is addicted to drugs

Your friend could take drugs regularly, or go down to the pub for a drink every weekend, but that doesn’t always mean they’re an addict. Before you encourage them to get on a 28-day rehab program, you need to know that they’re actually addicted. 

 

With that in mind, here are some telltale signs that you should be wary of: 

 

  • Sudden and extreme changes in their behaviour or mood
  • Shakes or tremors and a feeling that they’re always on edge
  • They start acting more isolated and distancing themselves from friends and family
  • They no longer care about their personal appearance
  • It feels like they have no interests or hobbies anymore
  • They don’t take on any responsibilities and might start missing work
  • You notice that they always seem to have hardly any money despite not going out with friends anymore
  • Sudden fluctuations in their weight
  • They’re continually sniffing and wiping their nose, and they have regular nosebleeds
  • Their eyes are bloodshot
  • Their pupils are either larger or small than normal
  • They always seem distant when you speak to them
  • Whenever you see them, they excuse themselves and return seeming different
  • You notice spoons or syringes in their home
  • Their rubbish bins are full of empty bottles
  • Their speech is slurred, and they always seem drunk
  • You can smell alcohol on them at all times

 

As you can see, there are plenty of signs of drug addiction, and your friend might not have all of them. But, if you notice a selection of these telltale signs, then the chances are they have a problem. After noticing this, you should try and help. 

 

How to talk to a friend about their addiction

When you feel like your friend is suffering from addiction, the best thing to do is confront them about it. Now, ‘confront’ sounds like a strong term and insinuates that you’re going to be quite harsh and negative about the situation. It almost has the feeling of a schoolteacher telling off a child for misbehaving. That’s not the approach you want to take at all!

 

Instead, here are some tips to help you approach the subject of addiction with your friend: 

 

Talk to them in a private setting when you’re both sober

It’s never a good idea to speak to a friend about their addiction when they’re high or drunk. Especially if you’re on a night out and you are a little bit tipsy yourself. This should be done in the light of day when you’re both sober. As such, both of you can take the conversation seriously and will remember it. 

 

Talk to them in private as well, so there’s no one else around. This is the best way to actually get a reaction from your friend as they know you’re in a safe space. 

 

Explain your concerns and why you think they’re addicted

Don’t look at your friend and tell them they’re addicted to drugs or alcohol. Instead, explain why you’re concerned. Tell them they’ve been acting different lately, and that you’re worried. Slowly approach the subject and let them know that you think they might have an addiction. 

 

Sometimes, having someone say this out loud will make your friend come to terms with the situation. They might have been hiding from the truth, but your words bring them back to reality, and they may breakdown and get emotional. From here, you can lend your support and tell them that you’ll help get them out of this situation. 

 

Alternatively, your friend may deny things, and that’s fine as well. It’s important to know that you can’t force your addict friend to admit that they have a problem. 

 

Don’t be judgemental or critical

The last thing you should do is be very judgemental or critical of your friend. Understand that nobody chooses to be addicted. Nobody wants to have a drug or alcohol addiction that ruins their lives. All it takes is one small decision that has grave consequences. Your friend might have just wanted to fit in and feel accepted, or to have some fun on a night out. Or, they’ve been looking for an escape to help them deal with personal issues. 

 

So, don’t go on the offensive and start throwing accusations and being critical of the situation. Layout your thoughts, tell them you’re here if you need them, and give them a chance to talk. They might explain things and tell you how the addiction started, which can be helpful when looking at treatment options. 

 

As we said, your friend might not respond to you confronting them about this problem. They may deny it, tell you to shut up and kick you out of their lives forever. While this will be tough for you to deal with, you can’t blame yourself. You’ve tried to help, you’ve spoken up, and there’s not a lot else you can do if they don’t want your support. 

 

At the very least, you should talk to your friend so you can feel like you attempted to help. Avoiding the situation altogether is not a good idea. 

 

How to help a friend quit drugs

If your conversation goes well, then your friend might ask for your help. So, this section is devoted to teaching you how to help a friend quit drinking or stop taking drugs. There are different steps you can take, and here are the most effective: 

 

Address the cause of the addiction

Talk to them about why they started taking drugs or drinking alcohol. If they admit that they’re depressed, then there are lots of ways you can learn how to help a friend with depression. By addressing the cause, you can take away the thing that’s making them turn to these substances. 

 

Spend time with them

A simple way to help your addicted friend is to spend time with them. Arrange to do things that take them out of their regular routine. Here, you’re looking to stop them from going to places or being in situations where they usually take drugs or go drinking. 

 

For example, they might always go to the pub every afternoon and stay there for hours. If you arrange to see a film or go shopping, then it removes them from this situation. They can’t drink if they’re not near any alcohol. The same goes for drug abuse; many people stay in their homes and take drugs. By spending time with your friend and getting them out of the house, you can prevent this from happening. 

 

Provide them with information

You don’t want to be a pushy friend who continually tells your mate how harmful drugs and alcohol are for their health & wellbeing. Instead, send them resources that give them all of this information. If they choose to read it, then it may make something click inside their minds as they realise the damage they’re doing to their body and brain. 

 

Arrange an intervention

If you feel like your efforts aren’t working, then you could arrange an intervention with other concerned friends and family members. Essentially, this is where you all sit down and address your concerns. By seeing so many people who care about them, this can convince your friend to finally make an effort to change their bad habits. 

 

These ideas can help you support your friend and encourage them to kick their addiction. But, it’s often not always enough. As a result, you should also talk to them about professional addiction treatment options. 

 

The importance of professional addiction treatment

Some people can go clean without any professional help. However, this is normally only the case for people with minor addictions. If your friend has a long-term addiction that’s plagued their life for years, then they will struggle to fight the habit without any professional help. 

 

The best course of action is to find a rehab clinic that can provide different solutions to this problem. Both drug rehab and alcohol rehab centres are designed to target the leading causes of the addiction. This involves the use of a detox to cleanse the body of harmful toxins and prevent your friend from depending on these harmful substances. Along with this, there’s residential rehab that cuts them off from society and puts them in a controlled environment free from all their usual temptations. 

 

Trying to get rid of addiction on your own is dangerous and difficult. So, if you really want to help your friend, then talk to them about professional treatment options. 

 

Call our helpline today

If you have a friend that’s suffering from addiction, then please give us a call today on 0203 955 7700. We can provide extra advice on what you should do as their friend. Also, you should encourage them to give us a call, and we can provide the best treatment options to help them kick this habit and live a drug-free life. 

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)


Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.