How To Help a Friend Overcome Meth Abuse

Woman consulting her therapist

If you suspect that a friend, family member or coworker is using meth, you must do what you can to help her overcome the addiction.  At the same time, do not be forceful or judgmental; think of your action less as a "confrontation" than as an "approach."  Lastly, use caution as you attempt to intervene.     

  1. Identify a problem and make your approach early.  The safest time to confront a meth addict is in the early stages of abuse, which is why detection of the problem is so important.  Learn how to recognize the signs of meth abuse.  The earlier you identify the problem, the easier it will be for your friend to recover and the less likely it will be that significant, irreparable damage has occurred.  
  2. Meth users reject what they perceive as an attempt to control them.  Help the meth user confront his addiction, but do so lovingly rather than in a controlling and forceful manner.  Provide support as he builds up the strength to seek professional help, and maintain your support as he enters the very difficult rehabilitation stage. 
  3. Approach mutual friends and acquaintances with your concern; organize an intervention.  Interventions let a drug user know that her problem has touched many more people than just one.  Often the presence of concerned friends and family can encourage an addict to quit.
  4. Contact a drug intervention professional.  Often the confrontation goes much more smoothly when a professional accompanies you.  The U.S. Department of Health has a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator that can help you in finding local professional assistance.
  5. Do not approach an advanced meth addict alone.  In advanced stages of meth addiction, a user is prone to fits of paranoia, confusion, anger and violent outbursts.  Call law enforcement instead of approaching a meth addict whose mental faculties seem dangerously impaired.
  6. Part of being supportive is being realistic.  Never understate the effort of rehabilitation from meth abuse.  As you support your friend in her efforts to overcome meth addiction, honesty and realism are far more constructive than rosy optimism.  One of the biggest challenges for your friend will be dealing with her perceived loss of mental strength during withdrawal.  Prepare your friend for this challenging recovery phase.  As her rehab proceeds, remind her that her feelings of confusion, forgetfulness and mental dullness are to be expected during the recovery phase.

While meth rehabilitation has proven more difficult in many ways than recovering from even heroin addiction, new research is constantly being conducted - and new techniques developed - to arrive at a smoother rehabilitation process.  If you have reason to suspect that your friend is abusing meth, enlist the support of friends, family and local drug treatment counselors in an effort to return your friend's healthy life to him.  If your friend is already seeking help in an effort to remain free of meth addiction, lend all the caring support you can, mindful of the enormity of his challenge.


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