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How Can You Help a Friend Struggling with Addiction?

For decades, people had a love for Prince’s music. Just like that, he was gone. His official cause of death was a fentanyl overdose. Tom Petty had been a fentanyl prescription for legitimate medical conditions. Nevertheless, an accidental overdose took his life. Likewise, Justin Townes Earle, son of the country singer-songwriter Steve Earle, passed away after consuming cocaine that had fentanyl in it. He was only 38.

But it isn’t just celebrities that are struggling with addiction. You don’t have to look very far to find a neighbor, coworker, or friend who struggles with addiction. And what about families? From January 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020, New Jersey had over 2,700 opioid deaths. That means over 2,700 families were at the funerals. During the same period, our state gave out over 13,000 doses of Naloxone. Those lives are significant. They are imbued with inherent purpose and meaning.

Helping Someone Who is Struggling with Addiction

If you love someone who is struggling with addiction, what can you do to help? First, remember that addiction is a complex ailment. There are many causes of addiction. Genetics, exposure to traumatic events, family environment, mental and physical health – all of these can contribute to the onset of addictive behavior. Educating yourself about the nature of addiction will enable you to better understand it. Current data, research, and statistics are available from websites like

Things to Keep in Mind

Addicts may be keenly aware of their own sense of shame. In your effort to help, you must avoid judgment and fault-finding. Keep in mind important communication factors like facial expression, tone of voice, and body language. Often, these cues communicate meaning better than our actual words do. If you convey an attitude of judgment, you will not cultivate trust. To cultivate trust, approach an addict with an attitude of compassion and empathy.

How Can You Help a Friend Suffering from Addiction?

Empathy involves experiencing someone else’s struggle as though it was your struggle. It is thinking about their thoughts and feeling their feelings. Being as though their life is your life. Often, one of the best ways to do this is to practice active listening. If you are fortunate enough to get an addict to open up to you about their struggle, make eye contact with them as they speak. Observe the changes in their countenance and the shifts in their body. Focus attentively, and not just on their words. Listen for what is underneath their words.

Check your motives while you’re listening. Rather than listening in order to respond, listen in order to understand. Concentrate on the emotions and thoughts the addict is expressing. Brush aside your distractions, your arguments, your contrary opinions, and your judgments. Articulate your understanding with a nod, a smile, or a frown. Offer verbal confirmation, saying things like “uh-huh,” “go on,” and “yes.”

If you don’t understand something they said, ask them to clarify it for you. The best way to do this is through the use of open-ended questions. If you feel that you have an adequate understanding of the addict’s situation, wait a moment before responding. Ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say something that I would want to hear?

Getting Them Help

Once you establish trust, you can offer support. Let the addict know that recovery is possible. At Harmony Healing, addiction treatment is available at various levels. If someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 855-407-6782.

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