How Addiction Affects Friends

Friends supporting each other

How Addiction Affects Friends

Welcome back to our series about the effects of addiction.  We have previously discussed how addiction affects the family, and how it affects coworkers (in case you missed it, you can click the links to read about them).  Today we will be discussing how addiction affects friends.  

Peer Pressure

While friends of an addict might start trying to help their friend, they may end up using drugs themselves due to peer pressure.  They may find themselves in situations where they are pressured to take part in similar behaviors as their friends, or they might become curious about what their friends are doing, and want to understand what they are going through.  Unfortunately, addiction can be contagious, and the best laid plans of mice and men may catch another in the trap of addiction.  

A New Circle of Friends

As a person starts to use drugs and alcohol, their friend circle will inevitably start to change.  They will start hanging out with people who also use similar substances and start to drift away from those who have their best interests in mind.  Those new friends will encourage continued use of drugs and other substances, and can pull a person further into the drug culture.  One of two things will happen with their old friends, either the addict will push them away, or they will drift off, not wanting to be a part of the new lifestyle.  Unfortunately, that leaves an addict without the support of good friends.  

Strained Relationships

Addiction changes a person, and as addiction takes hold in a person’s life, other things fall away, including caring for friends.   An addicted person may start to lie about what they are doing, and even steal from their friends to pay for their addiction.  Many drugs such as cocaine and meth make users paranoid, so they might overreact in seemingly normal situations.  They may become defensive or even violent when they are confronted about their lifestyle choices.

What to Do

If you have a friend who is addicted, it is important to love them without enabling them.  Your friend may come to you asking for you to spot them for a few days because they are having financial troubles, or you may feel compelled to make excuses for them with their boss, family, or other friends.  As hard as it is, you will need to let them experience the consequences of their actions.  Avoid paying for their lifestyle, cleaning up after their messes, indulging their abuse, or covering for them.