When a friend is hurting

When a friend is hurting

Often I am asked this question: “My friend has a son who is using. What should she do?”

The question comes from a place of love.
We want to help our friends when they hurt.

When Jacob was using, and his world was so dark, I went dark, too. Sullen, silent, like a winged bat shunning the daylight, I folded into myself, my soul impenetrable. The suffering was mine alone. Shame and fear kept me hidden from the world, and especially from those who loved me the most.

How is a friend to help penetrate that darkness?

Just like AA, Al-Anon teaches that those of us suffering from the effects of addiction come when we are willing. How can you get an addict to want to get well? How can you get his family to want to get well?

There are no easy answers. But here’s what I say:

1. Be there. Express your love and concern. Even if it doesn’t penetrate at the moment, it’s still the right thing to do
2. Stay close. Remind your friend you are there to listen if he or she ever wants to talk.
3. Consult with someone who knows addiction, a counselor or therapist. Be ready to suggest professional help when your friend asks.
4. Attend an Al-Anon meeting. When your friend is ready, you can offer to go,too. Sometimes having someone at your side gives the added courage that’s needed to attend a first meeting.

Watching a friend or someone you love struggle with addiction in the family is hard.

You can only do what you can do.
But you may be able to shine a little light into the darkness enshrouding them.

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