How to Tell Your Friends About Your Drug Addiction

Three Methods:Broaching the TopicAsking for SupportPlanning Your Talk

Drug addiction is a terrible disease. It can not only erode your physical health and wellbeing but it can also hurt or even destroy family and personal relationships. Telling friends about your drug addiction certainly isn’t easy, but their support and love will improve your chances of recovery – just choose the right time and place, be honest, and ask for their support and understanding.

Method 1
Broaching the Topic

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    Ask your friends to talk. Admitting your drug addiction is a very hard thing to do. You might feel that your friends will think less of you or judge your behavior, but reaching out is still the right thing and a good step toward your recovery. Chances are that your friends already know, on some level, that things are wrong and want to help you.[1]
    • Remember that drug addiction is a mental health issue. Just talking to others can reduce your stress levels, improve your mood, and help get you concrete support.
    • Consider saying something like, “Hi guys, I want to talk to you about something very serious in my life. Do you have time to talk?”
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    Pick a good time and place. You’ll want to set aside time either for a group or one-on-one discussion, since this is not a subject that you should hurry. Still, try to pick a moment when you are ready and your friends are not busy with work and won’t be distracted.[2]
    • This sort of conversation is also best in a private and calm setting and in-person, like at your or your friends’ home, as it may get emotional. However, a phone conversation can work, too, if you are unable or unwilling to go to see a friend.
    • Ask your friends is they are free, i.e. “Do you have some free time, an hour or two?” If your friends don’t have a block of time, put the ball in their court, i.e. “What time would work for you?”
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    Be direct and honest. Your friends don’t necessarily need to know everything about your drug addiction. In fact, you have a right to decide what and how much to tell them. But you shouldn’t sugar-coat the problem. Be honest and open with them. That way, they will know where you stand and can help as best as they possibly can.[3]
    • Be upfront and tell your friends that you have an addiction, i.e. “James, I want you to know that I have a Percodan addiction,” or “Julia, I’m addicted to cocaine.”
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    Explain the extent of the problem. One way to impress the severity the problem for your friends is to explain and give concrete examples. This will make your addiction less abstract. Rather than being an “addiction,” they will get a sense of how drugs are affecting your life.[4]
    • You might say when your addiction started, i.e. “I’ve been taking pain killers ever since my back injury last year, but it’s getting out of control” or “At first, I was just having coke at parties. Then, once in a while for a pick-me-up. Now I can’t stop using it.”
    • You can mention scale, too, if you feel comfortable, i.e. “My original prescription was to take two tablets a day. Right now I’m taking one about every hour.” Or, “I’m using about $200 of cocaine every day.”
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    Say whether or not you’re still using. Be honest about the situation, as well, and let your friends know if you are still using. Addicts overestimate how well they can conceal their addiction, so you may end up insulting your friends’ intelligence by lying about or downplaying your use.[5]
    • Be clear about your usage, i.e. “It’s pretty out of control. I’m still using every day.” If you’re attempting to get things under control, though, say so: “I’m trying to cut back and get clean. But I can’t do it on my own.”
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    Consider an apology. Addictions aren’t just about the addict. They affect everyone around the addict, including spouses, family members, and friends. You may have hurt or angered these loved ones in the past, either by hurtful words or by deeds like stealing. Recognize how you’ve wronged your friends and then apologize. This can start a process of reconciliation. [6]
    • You might say something along the lines of, “Please forgive the mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve done to hurt you” or “I’ve said and done things in the last few months that I’m ashamed about and have hurt you. I’m really sorry.”
    • Ask for understanding, though. Let your friends know that you love them and that you don’t want to hurt them, but that you’re dealing with an enormous problem: i.e. “Please don’t see this as who I am. This behavior is part of my addiction.”

Method 2
Asking for Support

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    Ask for help and support from your sober friends. Once you’ve told your friends about your drug addiction, you’ll presumably want to ask for their support in your recovery. Help might come in a variety of ways, from encouraging you and watching out for your wellbeing to helping you get to support meetings and other things. Friends may also be able to help you find some sort of treatment, if you’ve not yet started.[7]
    • Make sure that the friends you ask to support you are sober. Friends who use drugs will not be able to help you.
    • You might say something along the lines of “I really need help to get better. Can I count on your support during this time?” You might also ask for specific help, i.e. “Can you help me find a treatment center?” or “Can you help watch my daughter while I try to get clean?”
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    Don’t feel the need to share everything. Just because you’re telling friends about your addiction doesn’t mean that you have to share everything. In fact, you might spend some time thinking about what aspects of your addiction you’re comfortable sharing with each friend and what ones you’re not. Planning this conversation can make you seem less defensive or cagey.[8]
    • Be firm and unapologetic if you don’t want to share. It’s perfectly OK to respond to a question by saying, “I’d rather not talk about that just now.”
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    Talk about a plan. Telling your friends about your drug addiction is part of taking control and showing your desire to recover. You will have to demonstrate that you want to get clean and start treatment, so be ready to tell them about your plan and how they can help you.[9]
    • If you’re talking to loved one, chances are that you’ve already accepted your addiction and thought about the future. Tell your friends how you envision getting help, be it a stint in rehab and detox, attending sobriety support groups, or a mix of approaches.
    • A plan will help you to keep the discussion on track and avoid getting derailed by the emotions that this sort of talk can elicit, from you and your friends. Think of it as a “blueprint.” It will communicate to your friends that you’re serious, even if you don’t have all the details sorted out just yet.[10]
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    Be specific about what friends can do. Your friends and loved ones might not really know how to offer support or help. Say so if you haven’t already, and be specific about what you need. This can help you start to build a strong social support network.[11]
    • Say clearly if you want help friends to help you find a rehab program, give moral and emotional support, or perhaps help to take care of your children while you focus on recovery.
    • You might say something like “I’m afraid of making that first appointment, because it seems like admitting I’m a failure. Can you help me do it?” or “It’s been a struggle and I just might need a hug some days.”
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    Expect emotion. Expect your friends to have lots of questions and also to show a range of emotions, from surprise and confusion to anger, resentment, and hurt. Try to be patient and mindful. Above all else, remember that your friends care and ultimately want what’s best for you – i.e. your recovery.[12]
    • Resist the urge to get defensive if your friends become angry. Try to diffuse anger by saying that you’re not asking them to support you in your addiction, only to support you in recovery.
    • Keep in mind that friends who also use drugs may try to talk you out of getting help. You will have to stay firm in your decision if this happens. You may also need to tell any friends who use that you will not be able to spend time around them if they are high.
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    Try to anticipate questions. Think before you disclose your addiction about what kind of questions your friends are most likely to ask you. This will help you answer as best as possible. For instance, your friends might ask how long you’ve been addicted, how it started, or why you waited so long to get treatment.[13]
    • Expect to talk about what drives your addiction, as well, such as the people, places, behavior, and attitudes that contribute to it. This is important information for your friends, as it can keep them from enabling the addiction.

Method 3
Planning Your Talk

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    Think about how drugs affect your life. Getting better will mean some self-reflection and exploration. Before you talk with your friends, it will help to take some time to ask how drugs impact your life and your relationships with others. Ask how addiction has taken over your life. Doing so will lead to better self-understanding. [14]
    • Consider writing out all of your addiction’s negative effects on your life and personal relationships. What do drugs cost you? What might they cost you in the long run in terms of your dreams, your aspirations, your job, and your friendships?
    • How and in what areas do drugs affect your life? Have they alienated you from loved ones? Have they undermined your physical wellbeing? Have they hurt your emotional or spiritual health?
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    Learn more about addiction. Try to learn as much as you can about drugs and drug addiction as a form of mental illness. There are plenty of resources to utilize. For instance, you can try reading about addiction online at sites like the Mayo Clinic or Cleveland Clinic. You can also try talking to addiction specialists – mental health professionals who are trained to handle addiction. [15][16]
    • Your general practitioner is one place to start. Inform her of the problem, if you haven’t already. She can then refer you to an addiction specialist or to a more specific rehab program.
    • Try searching on your own for doctors who specialize in treating addiction, alternatively. Consult organizations like the American Society of Addiction and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry to look for options and referral advice.
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    Write a letter. Talking about addiction, again, is not easy. If you’re finding it hard to express yourself or talk in person with friends, consider writing to them. A letter can act as a tool for an in-person discussion or can in some cases stand-in, especially if the recipient is involved in your addictive behavior and not someone you want to have direct contact with. It will also let you plan your words and to write out what you want to say.
    • You might write the letter beforehand and then read it to friends in their presence. Or, you can ask them to read it on their own.
    • The letter can be long or short and can include everything you would want to say in a normal conversation, like the problem itself, an apology, and a request for your friends’ support.
    • Writing a letter might also be the best way to end an unhealthy relationship with a friend who fuels your addictive behavior, and to explain why you can no longer continue to associate with that person.

Article Info

Categories: Drug Addictions