If you know someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may worry that it is not your place to confront them about their problem. Most of us assume that drug and alcohol interventions are the responsibility of the family, and that friends should not get involved. But as any professional interventionist will tell you, it does not matter how close you are to an addicted person. Help can come from unexpected places. In fact, some addicts have such poisoned family relationships that no family intervention could possibly work. In such cases, it is up to others step in and help ensure that the addict gets treatment.

When to raise the issue

If your instinct is to avoid confronting your friend about his or her addiction, then you might want to wait until a proper time. Confronting the person in a routine social situation might not be the best idea, as this may just put them on the defensive. Instead, wait until they reach a particularly low moment, and then broach the subject with care. The day after a drinking or drug binge is often a good time, especially if the person’s behavior negatively affected you or others in your social circle.

It may happen that no clear opportunities present themselves. In this case, you might want to get in touch with a professional interventionist and talk to them about how best to approach this situation. They may recommend performing an intervention with a few other friends and the interventionist, or they may have some good tips for how to approach your friend on your own.

How to bring it up

There are a few ways to bring up the issue. The most important thing is to do it at a time when the person is not drunk or high. Wait until you are in a calm situation where you have time to talk together for more than a few seconds, and then be careful not to bring it up in a confrontational manner. It may help to work your way toward the addiction issue by first asking the addict how she’s doing, how work is going, and so on. Be careful not to be too nosy, and try not to ask leading questions that make your intentions too obvious.

If talking through the situation in person doesn’t feel right, consider writing a letter or an email. It may seem a little strange, but such a gesture could be exactly what your friend needs to begin to recognize that he or she has a problem. If that fails, get together with a few other people who care about the addict and talk about contacting an interventionist.