When you can see a friend continuously harming themselves and repeatedly engaging in self-destructive behaviour, it is only natural (and right) to want to help them break out of their dangerous habits. Very often this dangerous habit might be drug abuse, and if you know someone who is abusing drugs and putting themselves in danger then you should do something about it. Normally this involves having a heart to heart where you let them know how you feel about the situation, giving them all of the information, and letting them know you are there for them. Often this involves collecting a group of their close friends and family and surprising them with this discussion in what is known as an ‘intervention’. This is by no means an easy thing to do, and in many cases it can cause them to lash out at you and damage your relationship. Thus it is important that you come well prepared and that you are careful in how you go about the intervention. Here we will look at some ways you can ensure things go as smoothly as possible.
First of all it is important to do your research regarding the problem. This means finding as much as you can both about them and their drug usage, but also about the drug itself and its side effects. The latter you can research online, but the former you will need to get from other people who know the addict. If you present your intervention to them without having done this they will likely try to deny that they have a problem at all, however if you present them with all the evidence you have collected of their behaviour then they will have a harder time denying it.
At the same time you need to gather the right people together in order to stage the intervention successfully. The idea here is that you get a collection of the people closest to the addict so that your words achieve the biggest impact. You have to present them with a group of people that they couldn’t afford to lose and whose opinion they truly value. If only one person threatens to walk out on them, they likely they will react by challenging them to do that, however if all the people they care about in their life threatens to leave them, they will not be so keen. At the same time though these people should be kept in the single digits to keep the group intimate and to make it less intimidating. You do not want them to feel like everyone they know has turned against them, but rather that a few people they love have banded together to speak to them. The location should continue this theme and should be somewhere they feel safe and comfortable such as their own home (to achieve this you might need to get a partner or housemate on-side).
When you speak with them it is important not to point the finger or to make it too personal. Instead you should speak in terms of how you feel. Say ‘we’ and ‘I’ a lot, rather than ‘you’ which can make them feel victimized and ganged up on. Try to keep a calm atmosphere and make sure you are firm but kind at the same time. While you mustn’t sugar coat or dance around the issue, you also need to avoid making them overly angry. Try to speak in gentle tones and to be comforting – remember they are a victim here – but to tell them like it is at the same time.
Finally, make sure that you have the information available for them to get help immediately after your conversation. Have a number they can call, or a place they can go. If this information is available and you are successful they can then hopefully act right away on everything you have said to them, and at the same time you will be able to actually see them acting on their promises. Without this, it is not uncommon for addicts to simply say what you want to hear and then leave, and even if they are honest about their intentions to quit they can still end up simply ‘forgetting’ or slowly becoming less interested in seeking help.
All of this advice will help you to address the issue of a drug addiction in someone you know. However, every case will vary depending on the personalities involved, the severity and the nature of the addiction and more. For more advice try calling a drug advice helpline, or seeking professional help.
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