Consider This! Feb. 15

“A close friend of mine has a drinking/substance abuse problem. I can’t continue to watch them go down this road, but I don’t know how to help. What do I do?”

Few things can compare to the agony of watching someone you care about do harmful things to themselves.

Carley Rymkus

Situations such as these can be particularly tricky when you are dealing with someone with an addiction. That said, you have to be careful how you go about handling the problem.

The first step would be to approach your friend. Let them know you are worried and want to help. Be honest and speak from your heart so your friend knows you have their best interest in mind.

Try to get your friend to open up about why they are using drugs/alcohol. In many circumstances, substance abuse can be from the result of depression, feeling alone or other negative emotions.

To fix the situation, you have to find the root of the problem first.

If your friend admits to having a problem, then you are on the right path. If they get angry, defensive or deny having a problem, it might be difficult to help them improve.

Once your friend admits to their problem, listen to them talk about it. Maybe another mutual friend who is knowledgeable about the situation can talk with you both too. Your friend probably needs to vent to someone and feel that someone is on their side.

The biggest thing to do is be supportive. If your friend really wants to improve, then they need your encouragement. You can help them by looking up numbers of facilities which can aid them or getting a book on recovery.

If your friend doesn’t want the help, you have to obey them. Despite how much it hurts, you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. You can be a good friend and tell them you will be there when they do decide to seek help, but you, or anyone else, cannot force them to stop.

Be sure to seek professional assistance if the problem seems to be serious or spiraling downward. UW-Whitewater has plenty of resources at the Ambrose Health Center and the police department who are willing to help in these situations.

No matter what you do, just being supportive and showing your friend you want to help will not go unnoticed.

Just be patient and encourage your friend to get on the right track, and maybe things will turn around.