How to Provide Social Support to a Friend who is Addicted to Heroin?
A reliable support social system is a crucial pillar for addiction recovery. If a friend is struggling with heroin addiction, take it upon yourself to be part of their support system.
Why is a support system important?
A strong social support system gives the heroin addict a sense of belonging and inclusion. That acceptance creates a conducive environment where the addict can lay bare their secrets, guilt, and shame. The ability to share these issues makes it easier for them to work through the underlying issues and attain recovery.
What Can You Do to Help an Addicted Friend?
Understand Heroin Abuse and Addiction
Take hold of any information that you can lay your hands on concerning heroin abuse. Understand the signs of abuse, withdraw symptoms and heroin overdose.
Understand the relapse process.
This will help you act promptly if your friend needs help.
Avoid a holier than thou attitude. Your friend requires understanding and acceptance, not judgment.
Understand that heroin addiction is a disease that your friend can not easily snap out of. Empathy is a key element of support that will help your friend seek treatment and stick through recovery.
Be Knowledgeable about Heroin Treatment and Resources Within Your Community
Find contacts of local Narcotic Anonymous groups or other addiction recovery health centers within your area.
Link your friend to these services.
Encourage Your Friend to Seek Help
Empathize on the importance of seeking help without shaming or judging them. Expect defensive and sometimes angry reactions to your suggestion.
Try a less confrontational approach like suggesting that you are concerned that your friend is struggling in a specific area of their life.
If this approach fails, stage a confrontation with the help of others who care about this person. You can seek the support of a professional counselor. The goal of a confrontation should be recovery, not just accusations.
Approach your friend when they are sober. This will minimize the risk of the confrontation becoming ugly.
Manage your expectations
It is critical that you realize that your friend may not quit heroin addiction without professional help. Therefore, stop wishing the problem away and encourage your friend to seek professional help.
Understand also that recovery is a process that is sometimes painful and slow. Expect that a relapse can happen but that a relapse does not mean failure. There is no easy cure for addiction, but with proper treatment and care, one can manage sobriety.
Take Care of Yourself
Ensure that you are in perfect shape emotionally and mentally. Dealing with a heroin addict can sometimes be frustrating and emotionally draining. Join a support group for friends and families of addicts. You can also seek one on one counseling for yourself.
Help Your Friend Find Different Places and Activities to Engage in
Going to the same places and with the same people can easily trigger a relapse. Help your friend find new places to hang out and new friends to hang around.
Avoid places, activities, and people that remind him/her of heroin use.
Let your friend know that you will always offer your shoulder for them to lean on.
Be sincerely concerned about their welfare. Let them know that you care about them regardless of the addiction.
Heroin addiction can take a downward spiral that can result in a medical crisis or even death. Therefore, early intervention is critical for recovery.
Take action today.