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It’s easy to feel helpless as a friend goes through substance abuse treatment, but you have more power than you think. With everything going on, your friend needs someone to rely on through good times and bad. Being there brings its own set of challenges, but there are some simple ways to meet them head-on. 

Be Careful What You Say

This is a fragile time for your friend; even a well meaning thought could be misinterpreted. The biggest issue comes from possibly talking down to them, at least from their point of view. Be careful to avoid words or phrases that seem judgmental, even angry, in tone. 

Another pitfall to avoid is making them feel guilty about their condition. Whether you know it or not, expressing how this has affected your own life can come off as assessing blame. Of course, you can talk about your feelings, but remember that there is a fine line in any of these conversations. 


Of all the tips out there, this might be the most overlooked. It’a an uncomplicated idea that merely requires you to listen to what your friend is saying. No judgement, no questions, just letting them talk about whatever is on their mind. Sometimes the conversation may be easy to follow, other times it may not be as clear, but hang in there to see what they are trying to say. 

What Happens When The Conversation Goes Wrong

If the conversation seems to be going all wrong, don’t despair. Your friend is still relying on you to help them through all of this. Don’t throw in the towel just yet, instead try these quick tips to get a conversation back on track.

  • Change The Conversation
  • Mention Something They Enjoy Talking About
  • Acknowledge Their Concerns In A Respectful Way

Privacy At All Times

Your friend is going to say a lot of things as they go through treatment, much of it is very personal. While it might cross your mind to tell something you hear during a conversation, avoid the urge. Your friend is counting on privacy and you can help them out by keeping their talks under wraps. 

There are some times when you do need to speak out on behalf of your friend. If they are threatening to harm themself or others, it’s time to break that confidence and get them the help they need. If you do have to reach out for additional help, make sure your friend is aware that you did it in their best interest. Of course, their safety and the safety of others are most important than anything else. 

Substance abuse issues are no reason to turn your back on someone, especially if they’re a friend. One of the best things you can do for them is be there when they need someone to talk to. Be that friend and you’ll gain more rewards than you can imagine. It’s the true sign of friendship and a valuable tool in their recovery.