What to Do If a Friend Overdoses and Keeps Using afterwards

Having a friend with a serious drug problem can be heart-wrenching. It is only natural to want to help, and as a close friend you are in a good position to do so. However there is only so much you can do, and your friend’s addiction may be beyond your power to influence or change it. If your friend overdoses and keeps using, you may need to step back before your friend’s addiction consumes your life as well.

Ways to Help Your Addicted Friend

There are right ways and wrong ways to help a friend who is addicted to drugs. You want to avoid enabling his or her drug use, but you do want to do the following:

  • Make sure your friend knows that you are there for him or her
  • Offer to help find treatment and to support recovery, but understand that addicts may see constant attempts to coerce them into treatment as annoying or as personal attacks
  • Consult an addiction treatment specialist about your best options for intervention
  • Be a good role model and example of a sober and drug-free person

Understand the fine line between enabling and avoiding catastrophe. Picking your friend up if she is stranded or calling 911 if he has overdosed is not enabling. Do not judge or condemn your friend for being addicted, as addiction is a disease that has taken over his or her body and mind. He or she is under the influence of a mind-altering substance and does not think rationally, and he or she is also likely to be suffering from a co-occurring disorder such as depression that contributes to and may even lie at the heart of the addiction.

Knowing When to Step Back from a Drug-Using Friend

Ultimately your friend is responsible for his or her life and the choices he or she makes. Trying to help an addicted friend is important, but despite all your best intentions and best efforts to help your friend may continue to use drugs and continue to resist treatment. At some point you may find yourself and your family suffering collateral damage from the addiction. If your friend’s addiction is negatively affecting your life, it is probably time to say that enough is enough. This is not an easy thing to do, but you may have to find the strength to walk away and leave your friend to see reality for him or herself.

Need Suggestions for Helping a Friend Who Is Struggling with Addiction?

If you have a friend who struggles with addiction or who is in danger of overdose, call our toll-free helpline. We can help you determine the best course of action, and we can provide the support, understanding and information you need. All phone services are free, and we are here 24 hours a day, so please call now.