4 Friends



Friends are often the first to notice or to know that someone is struggling with a problem. A person who is worried about their changes in moods, thoughts or behaviours will often confide in a friend. A friend may therefore act as a support in helping someone confront the issue.

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difficulty in being a friend

You may
  • Worry about asking your friend if there is a problem in case it affects the friendship.
  • Worry that you are over reacting or hope that it is a ‘passing phase’.
  • Feel hurt or angry that your friend is behaving in this way.
  • Feel ‘left out’ due to the secrecy of the condition (the condition can often be a ‘competitor’).
  • Not know if you’ve got it right or how best to act in the circumstances.
  • Feel insecure about the concerns it raises about yourself, whether it’s about you as a friend or about how you feel about yourself.
  • Feel bad at going to social occasions on your own when it used to be the two of you.
4 identification facts
  • Your friend may be using larger amounts of the substance or doing an excess of the activity you think they are addicted to.
  • When your friend doesn’t take the substance or carry out the behaviour they are anxious or seem to be missing doing it in a major way.
  • Your friend spends most of their time using the substance or with friends who use the substance or carrying out the behaviour you think they are addicted to when they used to spend a lot more time with you and your friends before.
  • Your friend is having major problems in some areas of their life such as health, education, friendships because of the problem but they don’t seem to care.

4 steps to help your friend

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  • Talk to your friend – listen but don’t be judgmental or criticise.
  • Tell your friend you are worried about them and encourage them to speak to someone responsible. This could be a teacher you can approach, a parent, a peer counsellor, a school nurse or a school counsellor.
  • If your school has links with stem4 we will be working with your school to establish an identified person/people you can approach.
  • Offer to support him/her by: 
- finding useful information about addiction (this website is a good starting point) and how to get help I accompanying them to see someone who can help (named peer counsellor at school, school nurse, school counsellor, sibling, parents, parents of another friend, GP, practice nurse)
Look after yourself
  • If dealing with your friend brings up issues about addiction that bother you, take steps to talk to someone to.