How can I help a friend quit drugs?

Dear Paul,

I have a problem (kinda). Well, one of my best friends just recently quit smoking drugs. Is there a chance he will do it again? I know my question isn't "religious" or anything, I just thought you might know how to handle it. Also, are there any ways I can help my friend?



Dear Friend,

I am glad to hear that one of your best friends quit smoking drugs. That is awesome. And I think that it is cool that you want to be helpful to him at this important time in his life, since people who are trying to make such important changes need all of the love, friendship, and support that they can get. I think it is incredible that you are such a great friend and that you are seeking advice on how to help him. I do have a couple of practical suggestions for you on how to help your friend.

First of all, pray for him. I think that sometimes people underestimate the power of prayer. If you could say an "Our Father" for him every day, that would rock. And when you get to the part "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil", stop and ask God to help him with this particular temptation. God hears prayers like that and loves to answer them. And if you are Catholic, pray for him at Mass. Sometimes when I am at Mass, I prayerfully place people that I love on the altar; and I pray that God will transform them (as He does the bread and wine) into who He created them to be.

Second, I want to encourage you to keep being a good friend and hanging out with him. Try to help by keeping him busy with healthy alternatives of fun things to do. One big reason people do drugs is because they are bored, so staying busy with fun and creative alternatives really helps people who are trying to quit. We have this great brochure on our website of fun things to do - it is called "Creative Dating 101"; although it was originally written for people who are dating, it contains a lot of great ideas that friends can do, either in pairs or in groups. If you do a search for it on reapteam.org, it is easy to find.

Third, do your best to be a good friend and positive role model. You can do this primarily by continuing to develop and deepen your own personal relationship with Jesus. The more you become like Jesus, the more loving of a friend you will be. I believe that showing him real love will, more than anything, help him to avoid going back to his old friends and old habits.

To answer your other question - of course, there is always a chance that he might do it again. When people like your friend are trying to get their lives back on track, it is not uncommon for them to struggle with wanting to go back to past behaviors. In recovery programs, they call that a relapse. If that does happen, keep loving him and encouraging him to make good choices. That is what Jesus does - and He can help you to do the same for your friend.

Finally, if your friend gets to a place where he begins to relapse on a regular basis (let's hope not, of course), I think you should encourage him to get counseling or go to a 12-step group where other people who have ‘been there' can help him. You can be a friend to him, but be sure to avoid the trap of becoming his primary ‘counselor' or helper. People who struggle with chemical dependency need professional help and the support of 12-step groups.

I hope this helps. I may have given you more information than you need, but I just wanted to be thorough. With this note comes a prayer for you and for your friend.

God Bless,

 

Paul