How Can I Help My Friend Who Seems to Be Struggling?

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It might be difficult to tell if your friend is experiencing mental health or addiction issues in the era of continued social distancing. Isolation is common during covid, meaning life or death for someone hiding a severe addiction or mental health disorder. While it’s easier to tell if someone has an addiction if you are close to them, there are still ways to know if your friend might need an intervention. Here are signs to look for if your friend might be struggling and you don’t see them daily, and how you can help them get better.

Know the Signs

You might have a general idea about what a mental health disorder or an addiction could look like. However, some people hide their issues from friends, either out of denial of a problem or fear of becoming a burden to others. If you aren’t aware of the not-so-obvious behaviors, it might make it more challenging to detect that your friend is struggling. If this article caught your attention, you might have seen some signs that raise a red flag. Either way, it’s essential to know what to look for, even if the person you care about isn’t apparent regarding their struggles.

Signs someone might have an addiction include:

  • Spending less time with friends and family
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Sudden physical changes like weight loss or gain, nasal issues, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, or neglected personal hygiene
  • Financial issues
  • Withdrawal symptoms like shaking, anxiety, clamminess, sleep problems, or paranoia

Show Them Your Support

If you’re concerned about your friend, wait to confront them about their potential addiction or mental health issue. This may seem counterproductive or negligent, but they might be in denial or become defensive if you alone bring it to their attention. Instead, show your support for them to get better or overcome what’s difficult in their life. Make sure they know that you have their back.

Talk to a Healthcare Professional

If you’re concerned that your friend has an addiction or mental health disorder that they are hiding, talk to a professional about the steps that you can take. This is important because they will have insight into approaching the situation without making things worse. They can also give you insight into the severity of the condition. They also might be able to talk to you about forming an intervention plan.

A healthcare professional should be able to give you resources to help your friend, such as information on what to do in case of an emergency and finding help for them locally when your friend chooses to get help.

Make a Plan With You and Their Friends

Talk with the people you and your friend are both connected to about your concern. The chances are that you aren’t alone in noticing your friend’s behavior. Make a plan of action to help your friend get the help they need. Additionally, professional interventionists can also help coordinate and facilitate a meeting. A professional interventionist will guide you and your friends through the process of intervening in a serious mental health or addiction scenario without escalating or causing unnecessary damage that might shatter the support system your friend needs the most.

Don’t Enable Their Behavior

While you might not be able to help your friend overnight, it’s important that you don’t contribute to the problem. Your friend might be in denial about the severity of their situation and might turn to you to help cater to it. When dealing with a friend who has an addiction or mental health disorder, it’s vital to establish solid boundaries. For example, if your friend wants to borrow money, and you’re worried that they might be using it for their drug habit, then it’s best to say no. If your friend has a problem with alcohol and invites you to drink with them, there is nothing wrong with declining.

Understand Your Limits

Unfortunately, you aren’t Superman. Your friend’s situation might be something more than you can handle. This might be the case if they are in denial or resistant to help. It can be frustrating as you want to do whatever you can to ensure your friend is healthy and safe. You might feel guilty or that you aren’t doing enough.

Understand that there are limitations regarding what you can do if someone you care about is struggling with an addiction or a mental health disorder. You don’t have to cut out a friend who is resistant to treatment entirely, but make sure you honor your boundaries and safety. If their addiction or mental health situation is harming you in any way, then it’s time to give that relationship some distance temporarily.

It can be tough to see a friend struggling, but you can take steps to help those who might be experiencing addiction or mental health issues. Talking to a healthcare professional can do wonders when it comes to helping a loved one. They can help you see the signs that someone might not be okay. It can also help to have another person verify that what you are witnessing is not normal and that the person you care about needs help. Jaywalker Lodge offers mental health screening as well as one-on-one therapy for all of our clients. If you are worried that someone in your life might need help but aren’t sure what to do, call us today at (866) 529-9255 to speak to a member of our dedicated staff. They are here to help those who need someone to talk to and don’t know where to start with battling addiction.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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