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How to look out for your friends and colleagues

addiction word on yellow crumbled post it note

Addiction can happen to any of us, and no one is immune from feeling overwhelmed or reliant on either alcohol or drugs. One thing we have seen a lot of in our time at Help Me Stop, is that there is no one face of addiction. Many people seem to be able to mask and hide their addiction from friends and family, sometimes for years. While there is no one tell-tale sign, there are some things you can look out for to support friends and colleagues who may be struggling with alcohol or drugs.

conversation bubbles

Before we dive in, it is important to note that addiction and conversations around it should be handled with discretion and care. While some people may be ready to open up about the kind of help and support they need, there will be a lot of people who are not ready to face the facts and deal with their demons head on.

Please handle these conversations with care and compassion, and be the listening ear if you can be. Remember, you can’t solve the problem, but you can support.

Here are some of the signs of alcohol addiction or drug addiction that you can look out for, and also how you can support friends and colleagues who are suffering. 

Withdrawal from activities 

They may be taking themselves away from everyday or regular social activities that they once would have been an active participant in. This isn’t a sure-fire sign, but it is one of things we see and hear about a lot.  As dependence progresses, people can isolate themselves more, so they don’t have to hide what’s going on with relatives or peers.

Loss of interest in work commitments

Someone who was once conscientious and passionate about their job and commitments may now be disinterested and maybe even under performing in their role. If there are regular patterns of absence at work – for example, frequent Mondays off, then this can be a sign.

New habits around drinking or socialising 

There may be an increased interest in lunchtime or after work drinks, and new suggestions around drinking and drug use that were not there before.

A new group of friends

They may have found a new group of friends to socialise frequently with, particularly people that drink or use drugs in a similarly way, who won’t ask difficult questions.

Listen without judgement 

It is important to listen without judgement and to keep an open mind when having these conversations and supporting a friend or colleague. If they say they want specialist addiction help, you can refer friends or family members to our rehab for a confidential assessment for treatment. There are also great peer support options available, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Extend care and compassion 

Remember that addiction can impact anyone, and that addiction manifests in many different ways. Care and compassion are key elements within these conversations, to create a space that feels safe and supportive.

Sit don’t solve 

You don’t have to solve their problems, you don’t have to find a solution. Likelihood is, they just want someone to listen to them, and someone to talk to. Yes, you can suggest resources, but don’t try to be the solution, it isn’t always what is needed.

Open and honest conversation

If you’re opening up a conversation around potential addiction or dependency, then be prepared for an open and honest conversation, and remember to speak from a place of love and care, rather than confrontation.

If you or a friend or colleague would like to have a confidential chat about how we can help with either drug or alcohol addiction, please get in touch with a member of the team at Help Me Stop.

We offer both drug and alcohol addiction treatment at our Central London rehab centre, and we have a range of treatments and programmes available at affordable prices and accessible times. Together, we can help you, or them, stop.

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