Witnessing a friend or loved one go through addiction can be tough. It is very hard to know when or to find the right time and place to say something. Addiction can feel like a personal battle for someone with a substance use disorder (SUD), but there are a few ways for those who know them to offer support and help them in their recovery journey.

Witnessing a friend or family member with addiction can be hard and even harder when you are unsure how to convince them to seek help. The first step is recognizing the signs.

A Friend in Trouble – Matthew Perry

Addiction tends to be a topic not many people want to dive into because there is such a stigma around people seeking treatment. Just look at Matthew Perry, known as Chandler Bing on the hit TV series “Friends.” Matthew has been in the limelight over the past few decades for his ability to share his raw emotion and humor with all audiences. Not many people know that he was also struggling with addiction and substance use while filming the show. His friends and co-stars knew though and made sure they were always there for him.

The other cast members of “Friends” recently spoke on this topic as they knew Matthew battled with addiction and other health issues while filming the show. Much of the cast did not want to comment on his struggles, but all were supportive of his fight. Matthew knew it was a fight he needed to pursue on his own, but with the help of his supportive Friends family, it allowed him to stay on track.

Recognizing the Change

The first step to getting help is being able to recognize the early signs of addiction like abrupt weight or personality changes in your friends or family members. In the early stages, someone may not show telltale signs of addiction, but some early signs could include experimentation, being particularly drawn to an activity or substance, seeking out situations where substances may be present, or episodes of binging or loss of control with little to no feelings of remorse afterward.

What looks like addiction could be an experimental phase or a form of stress management. But a real addiction, if left untreated, can develop into a debilitating habit or increased risk of illness. We’ve narrowed it down to a couple of key things to look out for if you are noticing changes in a friend or family member:

  • Analyze if their health has changed. Has their level of activity changed suddenly or significantly? Are they taking care of themselves, their bodies, and their minds? Analyzing our friends and loved ones isn’t something we do on a daily basis, but when we are close to someone we can sense when changes occur. Tune into those senses to make sure your friend or loved one is okay and if not, make it a point to surround them with activities and people they enjoy.
  • Let them know, no one has to fight alone. Being surrounded by supportive, uplifting people is so important for our mental and physical health. With someone struggling with addiction, it can be easy to fall back into old habits and/or friend groups, and that can be triggering. As a friend, try to introduce them to new people, new experiences to get their mind off what has been consuming them.

As you begin to analyze and aid in helping your friends or loved ones seek alternate activities, they will begin to feel more comfortable. Once they begin to open up to you, you can be there to let them know they don’t have to fight this alone. Being a supportive friend in someone’s addiction battle or recovery can be tough, but we hope these tips on how to recognize important signs and how to best get your friend or loved one away from the trauma and experiences causing this addiction, the better they will be and hopefully you’ll  prevent longer-term illness in the future.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call the New England Recovery Center today at 1-877-MyRehab to speak with a member of our admissions team.