4 Tips to Urging a Friend to Get Help for Substance Abuse

Do you have a friend who’s stuck in a cycle of substance abuse and addiction? 

If so, you may be struggling with how to help them. 

You probably want to help them get help. 

However, you may not know what to say, and you may be at a loss for exactly how to go about this process of talking to them and communicating with them about the future. 

Well, here’s the tricky part. 

Urging a friend to get help for their substance addiction isn’t always an easy process. 

You may find that they’re going to be reluctant to seek it out for themselves. 

And they may be even more reluctant to stick with it even after taking the initial first step. 

This is the tricky thing about substance abuse. 

Therefore, thinking about some strategies beforehand that you can use while talking to them may actually improve your odds of success. 

And in this post, we’re going to give you four tips that may help you in urging your friend to get the help they need. 

Let’s dive into it.

1. Tell Them That You Love Them And Care For Them

People who are stuck in a cycle of substance abuse and addiction often feel judged and shamed for their addiction. 

In part, this could be due to them projecting those feelings onto other people—because they’re things that they think about themselves

But this doesn’t make it any easier to talk to them about it. 

To try to avoid this problem, you can start out the conversation by letting them know how much you love them and care for them. 

Let them know that you’re not judging them, and that you don’t think they’re a horrible person. 

This is a great way to establish trust and to let them know that this isn’t a ‘judgment session,’ but a conversation based around the care and love that you have for them as a friend. 

2. Communicate How Worried You Are

Oftentimes, people stuck in a cycle of substance abuse will be in denial about the dangers of their habits. 

They may rationalize it away and even ignore entire parts of the narrative, just so that they don’t feel quite as bad or as ashamed of their behavior. 

However, this can lead to a dangerous situation where they’re in denial and don’t think they actually need help. 

So as a friend, you may need to help them see the true danger in their behavior. 

And sometimes, this means that you need to communicate how worried you are. 

To do this, point out specific details of how the addiction is causing harm in their life. 

If possible, you may also want to list how their addiction is affecting the lives of other people they care about as well. 

This is a difficult conversation to have, but sometimes it’s the only way to help them see that they truly need help.

3. Let Them Know That You’re On Their Side

It’s always important to avoid a ‘you vs. me’ mentality when talking about substance abuse and addiction. 

Keep in mind that this person is probably right on the verge of crumbling on the inside. 

They obviously don’t like being in this situation, and they obviously find this type of conversation unpleasant to begin with. 

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to establish that the two of you are on the same team when heading into these types of discussions.

4. Help Them To See That They Have Amazing Future Potential

People stuck in substance abuse and addiction cycles often aren’t looking toward the future in a hopeful way. 

They may make excuses about why there’s no reason to look forward to the future, such as:

“I probably won’t live that long anyway,” or “it doesn’t matter, our society is going to collapse no matter what we do.” 

But these are statements that are really only protecting them from the fact that they’re afraid of the future and don’t know how it’s going to turn out for them. 

Pointing out that they could have an amazing future if they just got help for their substance abuse might help them to see that they don’t have to be afraid—but rather, that they can take control of their future and create an amazing life for themselves beyond addiction.


Obviously, these are just a few tips that could possibly help you in having a discussion with a friend about substance abuse. 

There are all kinds of different avenues that you could use to try to navigate this conversation. 

But no matter how you cut it, always remember that this is a loved one and a friend whom you care about. 

So just keep on loving them, and keep on supporting them.

Caring enough to have this discussion with them really means a lot, regardless of whether it’s successful or not.