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How to Help Your Cocaine-Addicted Friend

by
author image Beth Burgess
Beth Burgess is a health and happiness expert. Burgess works as a therapist, specializing in addiction, anxiety, stress and mental well-being. Author of "The Recovery Formula" and "The Happy Addict," she writes articles to help others achieve happy lives and healthy relationships.
How to Help Your Cocaine-Addicted Friend
A woman holding her friend's hand. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Lightwavemedia/Getty Images

Every month, nearly 2 million Americans use cocaine, reports the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of those, almost 1.4 million meet the criteria for dependence or abuse of cocaine. Cocaine is considered one of the most addictive drugs, which means that someone might start using cocaine occasionally only to find that she cannot stop when she wants to. The most addictive form of cocaine is crack, which offers a short burst of euphoria followed by a low when the drug wears off.

Have a Heart-to-Heart

If your friend has confided to you that he is addicted to cocaine, you need to figure out if he is willing to stop taking the drug. Sit him down and have a heart-to-heart conversation to find out what his concerns and fears are about quitting the drug. Most people appreciate being listened to non-judgmentally about their problems. You can use this opportunity to reassure your friend that you will support him when he decides he is ready to quit cocaine.

Address Withdrawal Symptoms

Although stopping cocaine use doesn't cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms, cocaine is a difficult drug to discontinue because of the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal. Make your friend comfortable, because she is likely to experience restlessness, irritability and insomnia. She will also experience cravings to use cocaine again, so have plenty of things to distract her. Making meals together is a good idea, as she is likely to feel quite hungry as the drugs wear off. If you cannot cope with her withdrawal at home, contact a drug treatment center for advice and assistance.

Protect Against Relapse

Former cocaine users have a high relapse risk, even if they have been abstinent from the drug for some time. Keep your friend away from anything that reminds him of when he was taking drugs, because memories associated with drug use often cause overwhelming cravings. Help him avoid places where he did drugs and people he did them with. Perhaps you could introduce him to a healthy new hangout or a new group of friends.

Reward Your Friend for Doing Well

The community reinforcement approach, a tool used in drug treatment services, is based on the concept that drug addicts are more likely to stay clean when they are rewarded for being abstinent. You could give your friend a special treat for every month she stays clean, such as a nice dinner or a night out. Rewards do not have to cost money -- hugs and encouraging words will also help keep your friend on the path of recovery.

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