What should you do if you know a friend is struggling with an addiction? Knowing someone needs help and not knowing what to do can be paralyzing. Thankfully, Relevant.com writer and counselor Eddie Kaufholz has three helpful steps for anyone who has a friend struggling in the midst of addiction.
First, have a conversation. Be as non-judgmental as possible, Eddie says. “This isn’t an intervention, and you’re not necessarily trying to get them into rehab (though if they offer, by all means grab the bull by the horns). What this time is about is establishing that: a) You’re their friend. b) You’ve noticed that things aren’t as they could be. c) You’re there to help, love, support, whatever.”
Second, help them with a first step. While taking that step is your friend’s decision alone to make, helping her see her options can be incredibly beneficial to someone overwhelmed by the process. Eddie writes, “This step may look like you driving him to an appointment with a counselor and then buying him lunch after and once again affirming your friendship. Or this step may look like being with him as he sits down with his parents or spouse and shares with them. Whatever it is, just have one step ready in your back pocket for when the time presents itself.”
Third, be part of the support system. If this person is truly a friend, you should be there for her, to support and encourage her as she faces her addiction. But as Eddie mentions, this doesn’t mean it’s your job to make sure your friend succeeds at beating her addiction. “Your job is to be supportive and not falter in your view of them as someone who is bigger than the addiction,” says Eddie, “[Your friend is] more than the sum of his mistakes and someone whom God values deeply.”
You can read more on these three tips from Eddie here. It’s important to note that Eddie prefaces these three tips with a word of caution—if your friend is in life threatening danger or putting someone else in life threatening danger, get help immediately.
The truth is, addiction can happen to anyone. And one of Satan’s most successful strategies when it comes to addiction is whispering the lie to us that we are the only ones struggling. That’s simply not true. iBelieve.com writer Rebecca Halton bravely writes about her own addiction to pornography, and how the humble testimonies of other brave women facing addiction helped Rebecca speak out and get help with her own struggles. “I’m not sure I’d be writing this right now,” Rebecca notes, “if it weren’t for a courageous acquaintance who confided in me a few months ago. She shared with me about her struggles – and like Jericho, walls came down. And therein lies the beauty of God’s design, when we confess and receive forgiveness; when we bring things into the light; when we get real with each other.”
Former all-star baseball player Darryl Strawberry and his wife Tracy sat down with Crosswalk last summer and shared how faith helped them beat drug addiction and build their marriage. “Addiction is just the manifestation, it’s the outward effect of the inward issues going on inside,” Tracy says. “The real issue is the emptiness on the inside, being separated from God. We make choices now [that leave us with] guilt, shame, we’re full of shame, full of fear…. When you open your life to Jesus…you can experience true forgiveness, where you’re cleansed and washed from the inside out.”
Have you ever helped a friend overcome an addiction, or have overcome an addiction yourself? What advice would you give others facing similar circumstances? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.