Helping an Addicted Friend — Relationships
How do we go about helping an addicted friend?
My wife and I received a joint email from a good friend we greatly respect that brought us deeper into her relationship with her husband in an uncomfortable way. Her husband had been pulled over for impaired driving, failed a sobriety test, and was given a DUI summons to appear in court later that week.
We had been at a party with them and she had gone home early because the baby sitter had to leave. She wanted to know if her husband, also our good friend, had gotten drunk at the party. He told her he hadn’t been drunk.
After expressing her concern over her husband’s drinking since he had been laid off from his job, she asked for our help in assisting him to address his drinking problem.
We’re skeptical about getting involved. Was it possible that she might be trying to build a case against him? Should we be careful about taking sides?
How should we have responded to both of these good friends?
There are ways to help an addicted friend.
Contrary to the popular myth that “you can’t help an alcoholic until he wants help,” compassion is the key to helping someone with an addiction problem.
Don’t wait until your good friend hits bottom. Talk to his wife about your hope that her husband can figure out how to manage his problem and get treatment.
- But first talk to him suggesting that there are many options for treatment in addition to 12-step programs and residential treatments.
- You can have a positive impact on his motivation to learn new patterns of behavior.
- Addiction and shame go hand and hand. If your friend is to be saved, compassion from his friends and family may be the only thing that counteracts the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.
- Shame and addiction are deeply intertwined. For example, alcoholics may be prone to shame by disposition and they may drink, in part, to cope with chronic shame and low self-worth. In addition, drinking can, in turn, cause shame, creating a vicious cycle. — Beverly Engel
Since you can’t have true compassion for him until you understand why he behaves the way he does, take the time to talk to him and listen. It will make you feel less angry that you’ve been put in this position.
- Don’t be one of those friends who has chosen to stay with him in denial about just how serious his problem is.
- Be compassionate by showing him respect and optimism.
- Keep reaching out to him.
After your initial conversation with the husband, make it clear to his wife that you have discussed the problem with him and that you will continue to encourage her husband to set boundaries for his behavior. But he must seek treatment.
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Accepting A Compliment
Accepting A Compliment