Several years ago, when my son was active in his addiction to alcohol, I often felt very alone. I wished I had a friend who understood the circumstances I was in…who could tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing to make the situation better. Sure, I had a few friends who were willing to listen, but at times I felt I was a burden to them, and I could tell they struggled with how to respond to me.
Hindsight being 20/20, now I know much of the work the parent of an addict has to do is done alone and within the family unit. However, there are definitely some things a close friend can do to support and encourage during this time of great need.
First, and foremost, if you want to be a good friend when someone you care for is going through the addiction of a young person they love, make the time to listen. Without judgement. Which can be difficult, but the reality of addiction is that it is an illness which affects any and all walks of life. And when it is your friend’s teenager, you may be tempted to think this could never happen to your family…but, you would be wrong. So, listening without criticism or judgement will be of real benefit to the parent who is working at deciphering and responding to a world they never thought they’d be immersed in.
Second, if your friend is overwhelmed by the situation, offer to help investigate local organizations which can give support and education to those dealing with adolescent addiction. Many areas offer community services that directly deal with family matters such as addiction. One terrific national resource is drugfree.org.
Third, pray for your friend, their teen, and the family. Addiction is a life-long affliction, one that can be successfully maintained, but never cured. And the best chance of success is building healthy family relationships around the teen who is in trouble. At the same time, parents of addicts also need to give themselves permission to take good physical, emotional, and spiritual care of themselves in order to bring their best to their child. So, prayer is a great way to support your friend in need, as well as encouraging them to take care of themselves during this time.
Friends are an invaluable resource in times of trouble, if nothing else think about how you’d like to be treated if you were in the shoes of the other. Then, don’t hesitate, pick up the phone and be the friend you’d wish to see!
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