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Is My Friend Struggling With Substance Abuse?

A person wondering, "Is my friend struggling with substance abuse?"

Watching a friend struggle with drugs or alcohol is never easy, especially if you’re not sure whether what you’re seeing qualifies as abuse or simply a challenging, temporary phase. If you could use help answering the key question, “Is my friend struggling with substance abuse?” reach out to Northpoint Recovery today. Our team of trained addiction specialists can help you get more information and tell you about our qualified substance abuse treatment programs. Just call 888.483.6031 to begin the conversation.

What Are The Most Important Substance Abuse Symptoms to Be Aware Of?

While individuals manifest substance abuse uniquely and different substances create a variety of side effects, there are nonetheless some through lines to be aware of. If your friend is consistently exhibiting several of the following behaviors, there’s a good chance they’re coping with substance abuse:

  • Financial difficulties due to overspending on drugs or alcohol
  • Dishonest behavior such as lying about substance use, hiding drugs, or engaging in theft or other illegal behavior to get drugs
  • Making unsafe choices while under the influence, such as driving while intoxicated or having unprotected sex
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about their next dose and expressing extreme worry that their supply will be cut off
  • Having withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, nausea, or tremors if they go too long between doses
  • Undergoing significant and rapid appetite and sleep changes
  • Showing signs of depression, anxiety, or paranoia
  • Devoting so much time and energy to drug or alcohol use that school or work performance decline and personal relationships also suffer
  • Neglecting personal appearance or basic hygiene activities such as showering or brushing teeth

Tips for Starting a Conversation with a Friend Abusing Substances

If you’re concerned about a friend and feel an honest conversation needs to happen, it’s wise to plan it out in advance. The first thing to keep in mind is that facts are your friends. Look up the substance or substances your friend is using on legitimate, peer-reviewed sources to learn more about how they impact brain chemistry, behavior, and physiology.

Next, choose the set and setting for your conversation carefully. It’s best to address serious topics in a place that feels safe, private, and familiar. A home or outdoor setting may be best for these reasons. Remember to be situationally sensitive as well. Don’t try to confront your friend when they’re under the influence or already in an elevated emotional state since they likely won’t be receptive.

Finally, try to adopt a conversational style that encourages real dialogue. Let your friend know you’re raising the topic of their substance use because you care about them and are concerned. Cite the behaviors you see that are worrying without using judgmental language. You can encourage your friend to seek out resources and even provide them with a couple of reputable sources or numbers to call. Reminding them of their strengths and the good things in their life can also be a useful way to motivate them to work toward addiction recovery.

Anger and defensiveness are common reactions to being confronted, so remember to be patient and compassionate both toward your friend and yourself. As the adage suggests, change truly can only come from within. That said, bear in mind that your role as a friend is to offer perspective and express your concern, love, and support. Ultimately, however, your friend’s recovery hinges on their own willingness to engage with it.

Learn More About Substance Abuse Signs and Treatments at Northpoint Seattle Today

The desire to help those we care about is admirable, courageous, and very human. If your friend or loved one is living with a substance abuse problem, know that you’re not alone and helpful resources are available. Reach out to North Point Seattle to learn more about the signs of addiction and the many evidence-based strategies for recovery. Call 888.483.6031 or use our online contact form to get started.