How do I help an addict or alcoholic friend?

Don’t blame yourself, blame addiction!

Being a friend to an addict or alcoholic is no easy task. Addiction is a devastating illness, and the impact can often be more detrimental for family and friends than for the sufferer themselves. Addiction is like a hurricane, destroying everything in its path. Beginning the process of helping someone into recovery can be draining to both your time, finances and emotions. It is crucial to understand the difference between supporting someone through their recovery and ‘helping’ them, or rather just enabling their behaviour. Always remember, your loved one’s addiction is not your fault. Many family members and friends will blame themselves for the situation, but it’s more useful to look at addiction for what it is: a progressive and dangerous mental illness that doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, wealth, background or ethnicity. It isn’t your fault.

Educate yourself on addiction.

The best thing you can do now is educate yourself: on addiction, the support available to the addict, and the support available to family and friends. You don’t need to go through this alone, there is help available and things can get better. UK Detox is here to help, providing residential detox and rehabilitation programmes to individuals suffering with alcohol and drug addictions. Sadly, the impact of addiction is often felt most by everyone around the addict or alcoholic. The sufferer is often high or drunk, or in a relapse, and blind to the reality of their illness. It is those who watch on, in shock and sober, as they witness the chaos unfolding in front of them. Friends and family will often feel at a loss as to how to help, powerless over the situation. This is normal. It is a very unique, difficult situation to be in. They may resort to various methods to try and help; but ultimately, unless the addict or alcoholic really wants to change themselves, there is little to be done.

Make yourself the priority!

Make your own self-care a priority, as often loved ones will sacrifice their own health and wellbeing whilst trying to save someone else. Being in a friendship or a relationship with an active addict or alcoholic can be incredibly stressful. Trying to support them can be difficult, and it is even harder doing it alone. It is really important that you accept what you are going through and seek support for the issues and how they may be impacting on you. There are a wealth of resources available to family members and friends, both online and in-person. These include support groups such as Al-Anon, Famanon or Naranon. Teenagers and younger children can also receive support and guidance from Alateen. Attending these groups can be very cathartic, and provide you a safe space to share your experiences, feelings and emotions, and to connect with other people and build friendships with those who have similar experiences. Take time out to do things you enjoy too, whether it’s reading your favourite book, going to a yoga class, or just having a walk and coffee with friends. You need a break from the addict as it is such an all-consuming illness. It may also be helpful to seek support from a trained counsellor or therapist.

Getting support for your loved one or friend will offer them the best chance of a lasting and successful recovery. Depending on the nature and severity of their addiction problem, it is likely that they will need clinical help in the form of undergoing a residential rehab or detox programme. There are lots of helpful resources, where you can learn about the best rehabilitation or recovery programme to meet your needs. UK Detox are here to help and advise you on further steps to take when considering treatment and rehabilitation programmes. At UK Detox we work with a wide range of rehabilitation facilities and detox centres around the country to suit your needs and circumstances and provide home detox’s. We are a premier service with an extremely high success rate, offering addicts the opportunity to get clean and sober and live a successful life. We are living proof that it is achievable and now we are here to help you on your journey into recovery. Change your story, change your life.


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