Helping a friend who’s hurting

When friends are in trouble, it’s hard to know how to help. Our elder says sometimes just being there is a good start.

Dear EWC:

Hi! Thank you for taking time to read this. Hope you’re having a good day, thank you for any advice or empathy that you can give me. I recently reconnected with one of my friends from high school and noticed that he wasn’t in the best place. He had dropped out of college, quit his job, started smoking cigs, and has started doing drugs and drinking excessively. This broke my heart. Especially since there is a history of addiction within his family.

He is not close with his family and has friends that encourage this sort of negative behaviour. He also in general is a very reserved person and does not like talking about himself much, so getting him to open up about his problems is difficult. In general he’s very poor at expressing his own emotions. I want to help him and be a supportive, good influence for him, but I also understand that he is NOT my responsibility. At the end of the day, you can’t force someone to change.
How should I approach helping him? Should I just distance myself? Should I sit down with him and have a big talk about it? Should I mention my concern in passing? I just want to make sure that he is OK.

M-Sharon replies:

He is very lucky to have such a concerned friend. As we both know, only he can change himself. However, I do think that if you can sit down with him and have a quiet conversation, it would be helpful.
Tell him you care for him, and that you want to be supportive of him, but that you realize he is in a bad place with friends who are not helpful. Remind him he has only one life and not to waste it. Encourage him to seek out help for drug and alcohol addiction. There is help out there for everyone, but he has to want it. If you can, offer to go with him to a clinic. I know you can only do so much. It’s a shame no one in his family can help.
Just be there as a sounding board for him, so he knows he can call you. At least you will know you’ve done all you can do.

Letter #: 441000
Category: Friendship

One Comment

  1. Shoykot ahmed Reply
    September 12, 2020

    I am fine.

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