It’s hard to watch a family member or loved one engage in self-destructive behavior, particularly if they are dealing with substance abuse, like drug or alcohol addition, when it may feel like you don’t know the right way to approach them. Thankfully, substance abuse can be managed with appropriate intervention. Then how to persuade a friend to give up drugs? Keep reading to learn some tips. Remember your main goal is to have them stop their destructive behavior.
Keep it their decision
While you very much want to persuade a friend to give up drugs, the decision ultimately has to be theirs and theirs alone. It may be as simple as outlining all the good outcomes that would come with getting treatment, and how it would help not only themselves but their family, friends, and other loved ones. They may see independently that going through a treatment program is the best decision for everyone in their life. Getting the help of other family or friends to enforce this line of thinking can also be helpful.
Make a list of the problems
Before you even intervene, it is useful to make a list of all the self-destructive behaviors your friend is committing and its consequence, as well as any problems he or she has caused for their family or friends. This can be used as a “supporting argument” when you are confronting your friend about their issues. Make the examples as specific as you can, such as “borrowed money and didn’t pay back” or “spent two nights in jail” so that your friend cannot make excuses. Be sure to list the types of treatments available as well.
Get help from other family members and friends
How to persuade a friend to give up drugs? This is hard. You cannot do this intervention alone, and you will need all the support you can get. Any family and friends that have been affected by this person’s destructive behavior can be involved in the intervention. You may also want to include a counselor or mental health professional who can serve as a mediator between you and your friend.
Talk to them in private
Confronting a friend about their addiction or substance abuse problem is not something that should be done in a public setting. Don’t try to do it at a party. Having the intervention at a neutral location where they cannot get distracted or easily leave the situation is a good idea. This may mean the home of a different friend or a counselor’s office.
Don’t let them hit rock bottom first
Becoming homeless or ending up in the hospital may seem like a rock bottom situation to you, but every person defines their own rock bottom personally. Someone who is abusing drugs may not consider themselves at rock bottom yet. Don’t wait to find out what their definition is-- intervening could save their life. Being proactive can prevent their situation from getting worse and from reaching a point where it is much more difficult to recover.
How to persuade a friend to give up drugs? Let your friend know that they don’t have to go through this alone. Tell them that you’ll be there for them throughout treatment and after to offer whatever help they need. Trying to tackle their addiction will likely feel overwhelming, and knowing they have the full support of friends and family can help make the decision a little easier for them.
Don’t sugarcoat treatment
It will be hard for your friend to get over their addiction, and they should know that. When you’re trying to persuade a friend to give up drugs, make sure you don’t sugarcoat how difficult it will be. Not only will there be physical withdrawal symptoms that will be hard to get through and manage, but they will also have to deal with all of the mental and emotional reasons they started this addiction in the first place. If the person knows all of these challenges that await them and they still want to seek out treatment, it will prepare them better for it.
Have them make a decision right away
Don’t give them a couple days to think about it -- they will likely just continue to deny that they have a problem, or escalate their addictive behavior. Anticipate reasons why he or she might say no, and have responses ready. Don’t be surprised if they say no, but be ready to enforce the consequences you laid out for them.
Enter a support group yourself
Trying to help a friend get treatment can also be exhausting and draining for you. Getting help and support for yourself is just as important. There are support groups for family and friends of people dealing with substance abuse. Here you can lean on people going through the same thing like you and can also get practical advice on how to persuade a friend to give up drugs.
Know relapse warning signs
Be sure to know signs of a person slipping back into their old substance abuse habit after treatment. If you suspect they relapsed, try to intervene right away so that they can get the appropriate treatment.