Sunday, January 23, 2022

how do you help an addicted friend who refuses help?

I have an addicted friend. You'd think he'd be too mature for this particular addiction, but it's a sickness that strikes a lot of men of his age and financial position. My friend is perfectly aware he's both addicted and forever engaging in self-destructive behavior, and while he's always a good sport about seeming to take the counsel of friends, he keeps right on indulging his addiction. Is he stupid? Is he too far gone? Can anything be done to help him, or should we all just stand aside and watch his sad, slow death-spiral as he crashes again and again, never learning the essential lessons that he should have learned years ago?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
—possibly of 19th-century origin, routinely misattributed to Einstein and Ben Franklin


  1. I know a guy like that!

    It's complicated, but don't give up on him. You may be helping in ways that are not readily apparent.

    And as a girlfriend told me many years ago: "No man is totally worthless. He can always serve as a bad example."

  2. That's a tough one. Unfortunately, you can't learn a lesson for someone else, and no amount of reasoning can convince someone they have a problem until they come to that realization themselves. Without going into too much detail, I will say that I have experience with addicted individuals, and I know how frustrating it can be to see someone make the same mistake over and over again. It can feel like all your efforts are wasted, and you wonder if you should even bother anymore.

    Whether you should bother anymore probably comes down to how close you are to this person, and how much you care about him. I hope that doesn't come off sounding cruel or calculating. What I mean is that I know how emotionally draining it can be, and you have to decide whether it is worth the psychological stress, knowing that all your efforts may indeed be in vain.

    Lest I begin to sound too negative, I agree with what John said: "You may be helping in ways that are not readily apparent." That is true. In fact, you may never know how much you might be helping him. Also, that "help" will probably not take the form of convincing him that what he is doing is self-destructive. It may play a factor in such a realization, if it ever comes, but I think the most important part of you helping him is simply letting him know that there are people who care about him. He may reject any logical arguments you might make, but when things are darkest, he will remember that you care about him. And that will make a difference. Whether it will be enough of a difference is, unfortunately, not something we can know.



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