Recovery Centers of America Shares Advice on How to Help a
King of Prussia, Feb. 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Recovery Centers of America (RCA), a healthcare network of substance use disorder treatment facilities on the East Coast and in the Midwest, today shared practical tips for supporting a friend who is dealing with a substance use disorder (SUD).
With colder weather in some areas, shorter and darker days and relatively few holidays, February can be isolating, disrupting recovery or causing some people to develop SUDs. The quiet of the month, however, also provides an opportunity: for friends to help.
“While it may be difficult to find the right words to say and the right time to say them, it’s even more difficult watching a friend struggle,” said Dr. Hyong Un, RCA chief medical officer. “Substance use disorders are incredibly complex, and often worsen the longer they go on. However, there are effective ways to initiate engagement with someone in need and to make an impact.”
Learn the Signs
SUDs occur when an individual becomes both psychologically and physiologically dependent. Their use is out of need rather than want. Some of the most common signs include:
- Exhibiting a lack of interest in regular activities, relationships and self-care
- Bloodshot eyes, change in skin tone, appearing fatigued
- A change in behavior, such as becoming distant or wanting more privacy
- Difficulties and disinterest in work or school
- Inability to manage finances, asking to borrow money or stealing money
- Becoming defensive when asked about behavioral changes or increased substance use
Be Supportive and Empathetic
The most important thing to understand about SUDs is that they are brain disorders. Your friend is not choosing to be this way — so don’t shame or blame them. Instead, express your concern for their health and safety, and let them know you want to be there for them and help in any way that you can. Hear them out and be ready for all kinds of reactions, but don’t take bad reactions to heart.
When confronting a friend, using specific scenarios can help make your concerns clearer and more valid in their eyes. Was there a time when the two of you went to a party together and they decided to use certain substances, putting you in danger or making you responsible for their safety? Has their behavior changed recently or while using a certain substance? Tell them what you enjoy about them when they’re sober and how that changes when they’re under the influence.
Set Boundaries and Be Consistent
Addiction can linger for a long time, and it can be difficult to navigate your friendship throughout this period. Express your feelings and set boundaries regarding your friendship and their substance use.
Boundaries may look like this:
- Not being around them when they use substances or in places where substances are being passed around — such as a party, bar, etc.
- Not letting them borrow money
- Not lying for them when they get into trouble
- Only agreeing to meet with them in neutral places (especially if they have a habit of stealing)
Remember, consistency is key. Don’t send mixed messages by letting certain boundaries slip or by expressing your concerns and then letting your friend use substances in your presence. It won’t do them or you any good.
Lecturing someone with an addiction doesn’t work, so don’t bother hitting your friend over the head about the negative impacts of their disorder. Instead, come to the conversation prepared with positive facts about treatment. Talk about what their life could be like without the substances and offer to help research treatment options. It’s also a good idea to bring along some community resources they can hold onto.
Understand that it may take more than one conversation to get through to your friend and that’s OK. Some conversations will go well and some may get heated — and that’s OK too. The most important thing is showing that you have their best interests at heart, such as their long-term recovery and sobriety. Eventually, they’ll thank you for it.
Call for Help
If your friend or loved one is unable to maintain sobriety on their own, encourage them to enter or reenter treatment. The staff at Recovery Centers of America is here to help – both them and you – 24/7, 365 days a year. Don’t wait, call 1-800-RECOVERY for help today.
About Recovery Centers of America
Recovery Centers of America is dedicated to helping patients achieve a life of recovery through evidence-based alcohol and drug addiction treatment, as well as treatment for mental health disorders. RCA has 10 inpatient facilities in Earleville and Waldorf (near Washington D.C.), Maryland, Danvers and Westminster, Massachusetts; Devon (near Philadelphia), and Monroeville (near Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania; South Amboy and Mays Landing, NJ; St. Charles, Illinois (outside of Chicago), and Indianapolis, Indiana. A full spectrum of outpatient treatment is also provided at many of these facilities. Patients can obtain immediate substance use disorder care and mental health treatment by calling 1-800-RECOVERY with complimentary transportation provided in most cases. For the third year, RCA is recognized as having multiple sites atop Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Best Addiction Centers rankings for excellence.
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