Supporting a friend with a drug problem

Seeing a friend struggle with addiction can be extremely tough. You have to balance being a good friend with supporting them, which may mean giving them space. In this real life experience, Alim was determined to offer support to a friend who got addicted to solvents.

True Stories

A young, blonde man is standing on the pavement with his arms crossed. He is thinking about his experience with friends and drugs. He is wearing a puffer jacket. This is a wide-angle image.

Solvent abuse 

Back in the day, I was friends with a large group of schoolmates, and we would meet up regularly and throw parties together. But, when a few of these friends started sniffing glue, I got anxious about being around them. One particular friend became more and more distracted in school, to the point where he was sniffing glue in the middle of class. It was odd that a supposed ‘pass-time’ was influencing other parts of his everyday life. At this stage, he didn’t recognise it as a problem, but it soon spiralled into something serious.

I wasn’t too sure that there was anything I could do to help him. We spoke in school. I never tried to persuade him of anything, just wanted to find out how he was coping. It was hard for me to see someone so intelligent wasting their time with solvents and falling behind. He didn’t seem to want help from any concerned loved ones, and this put a huge wedge between us.

Other drugs  

After the solvents, he moved on to cannabis. This was more socially acceptable at parties but when he was high, he became a completely different person. Once, he nearly fell out of a two-storey window from losing his concentration. That’s when I really started to see the dangers of cannabis use. At this point, I was too afraid to confront him about his addictive habits; I decided that if he wanted to change, he needed to make the choice for himself.

Eventually, he realised that he couldn’t carry on this way. One day, after weeks of paranoia and headaches, he started job-hunting and found work. Employment really changed his behaviour, he became much more disciplined and focused. His friends (including me) all actively encouraged. This support paired with good pay meant he found his began to find his way to recovery. I couldn’t be prouder of him. The reality of dealing with friends and drugs is that they have to WANT to change for your support to make a difference. 

Friends and drugs

Friendships are built on good communication, but sometimes that line of communication breaks down. If your friend begins to drink or do drugs excessively, the likelihood is they won’t be up for a chat about their habits. As tough as it is, you have to let them come to their own realisation and be waiting there for them when they do. It was hard to see my friend go down that path, but I’m glad he made it back. 

If you need support with addiction

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to contact us through our confidential support services. You could also reach out to charities who specialise in drug addiction, such as the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

Whichever route you choose, just know that there is always help available to you.

Next Steps

  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 26-Aug-2021