Getting rehab help for your addicted friend in England and Wales
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.
Helping a friend through addiction requires effort
Helping your friend battle their addiction is no mean feat. It is hard work and will require determination and effort[i]. You will have to be there when they call you at 4 am. You will have to deal with the potential emotional manipulation they resort to when they need money for drugs or alcohol.
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.
Why Does your Friend Use Drugs or Alcohol?
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 – but why do they turn to substance use disorder to begin with?
Some of the reasons our loved ones turn to drugs and alcohol include:
- To fit in – peer pressure from other friends can cause them to use
- To relax and socialise – what starts out as a few drinks at parties can spiral
- They are experimenting – you can become addicted from the first use of some drugs
- They want to escape – it could be that your friend is suffering from depression or anxiety[ii]
There are other reasons people take drugs, but these are some of the most common.
Spotting the signs of addiction in your friend
There are two lots of things to look out for if you think your friend is hiding an addiction: the signs of secrecy and the symptoms of withdrawal. Looking out for these could help you spot an addiction early.
Some of the signs of an addiction include:
- Sudden or extreme mood changes
- Isolating themselves and distancing from people
- Lack of interest in their appearance
- Missed work and other responsibilities
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Noticing drink or drug paraphernalia around their house.[iii]
Secretive behaviour and making excuses to go off on their own when they are with you, are good indicators of an addiction.
Next, look for the symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal. Although these vary, here are some common ones:
- Sweating and shaking
- Not really listening when you speak to them, appearing distant
- Sniffing, coughing, or wiping at their nose often
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flu like symptoms[iv]
Again, there are others, but these are the most common.
What to do When you have decided to help your friend with addiction?
What should you do once you have decided to help your friend with their addiction? Try the following things.
Encourage them to talk
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 get a reaction from your friend as they know you’re in a safe space. explain why you’re concerned. Tell them they’ve been acting differently lately, and that you’re worried. Slowly approach the subject and let them know that you think they might have an addiction[v].
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 break down and get emotional. From here, you can lend your support and tell them that you’ll help get them out of this situation.
Setting boundaries about what you will and won’t do for them can help you to protect yourself and stop yourself being used. Addicts are likely to come to you for money or other things, knowing that they can manipulate you to get what they want[vi]. Setting a hard boundary that reaffirms you won’t be treated this way, then allowing them to deal with the consequences on their own when they test you, is good for both of you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Learn all you can about addiction
By learning everything you can about their addiction[vii], you can start to understand where they are coming from. Better: you will be able to refer them on to other places, should you need to. If you know what the symptoms of withdrawal are and where the nearest detox clinic is, you can help your friend by guiding them towards the services they need, as they need them.
The best thing you can do for any friend going through any hard times, is to offer them a shoulder to cry on. It doesn’t cost anything to listen to someone. Listening might be the difference between them feeling all alone in the world, and knowing they have someone to turn to. In cases of dual diagnosis with depression or anxiety, this could be enough to save their life.
There is a difference between providing support for your friend and enabling their addiction[viii]. For example, when you are out in the club and they drink far too much, or use cocaine, and they embarrass themselves. In this instance, you are not duty bound to explain away their actions to others. You don’t have to be there to clean up their messes. This just allows them to continue their unacceptable behaviour. You must let the full force of the addiction dawn on them, and you can’t do that if you are enabling their behaviour.
Stage an Intervention if you must
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 try to change their bad habits[ix].
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.
Things not to say to your addicted friend
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[x].
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.
Explore their Choices in Rehab and Addiction treatments
Your friend has a range of treatment options that can help them conquer their addiction.
Inpatient/Outpatient rehab care
Your friend can be treated for addiction as an inpatient or as an outpatient. Outpatient services include NHS rehab techniques, such as joining a group like the 12 steps and travelling to it every week, seeing your doctor, or visiting an alcohol counsellor.
NHS assisted detox and rehab is possible. You will face lengthy wait times and your friend will likely have to do most of their rehab work as an outpatient. The average cost of an NHS assisted rehab stay starts from £1,400 per week.
Private Residential Rehab
Private residential rehab is for private paying patients. It costs more than an NHS assisted program but will take place at one of the same facilities. This is because the NHS don’t run any rehab clinics. When you opt for an NHS assisted program, you share a room at a private facility instead.
Luxury rehab clinics have all the facilities and amenities of a private rehab clinic, but with high-end rooms and board. You may have a wider range of holistic therapies, but your treatment will be the same.
Online therapy grew in significance during covid-19 and has offered many addicts a way to deal with their addictions. You don’t have the commute to worry about, the cost is less, and you get all the help you would get from therapists in a rehab clinic, at home.
At Home Detox
At home detox is possible if your friend’s addiction is mild. If they are an alcoholic with mild symptoms, for example, an at-home alcohol detox kit and a round of online therapy maybe enough to stop the addiction going any further. If they have been addicted for a long time, then they will need to detox in a centre.
Free Consultation on How to Help a Friend with Addiction
We offer free telephone consultations about everything to do with addiction. Our helpline offers somewhere for you to chat with a non-judgmental person, who can help you select a rehab clinic in your area. Even if all you need is someone to talk to, our professional, friendly, and helpful advice line team are here for you.
Where to Find a Rehab Clinic Near You
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you help someone suffering from an addiction?
How do you stage an intervention for a drug addicted friend?
What types of things can you stage an intervention for a friend for?
What to do if my friend won’t talk to me because we staged an intervention?
How do I tell my friend she needs rehab?
What can I do to get my friend to stop taking drugs?
What can I do to stop my friend drinks alcohol?
How do I support someone with an addiction?
Should I leave my partner because they are an addict?
Should I tell my friend I’m worried about their drinking and drug use?