The Life of Your Friend May Require the Sacrifice of Your Friendship
anonymous Asks ...
I am 17 and my friend is 21. We are in the same summer class. She is doing a lot of meth and now she is selling it. She used to be pretty normal but now she is hard to understand when she talks to you. She stays awake for 3 or 4 days in a row and then sleeps for 24 hours. She supports herself by selling. She just had to sell her laptop to get new ‘product’ to sell. She says the money is so good but she keeps having to sell her belongings so obviously there is a flaw in the economics of it all. She is so skinny and she looks terrible. Oh, and her mom is one of her customers – so that is weird too. Everyone knows she is using and selling so I don’t think she is going to get away with this for long. I want to help her but she doesn’t seem to even understand what I am saying to her so what can I do?
She comes to school every day but she is going to completely fail and I don’t think she is coming back next semester. My friends and I want to help her before she is gone for good but we don’t know how to start..
Dr. Mark Abrahams Says ...
I am sorry to hear of your friend's involvement with 'meth.' This substance has had the reputation that "Speed Kills" since the 1960s, and even the occasional 'tweaker' is at high risk for sudden death. I do not want to come off like a 'narc,' because that is not my intention, but without a support system (like a clean parent), the prognosis for change and recovery is not good. While I don't want to get users arrested, the word arrest actually means stopped, and despite your friend's predictable denial that everything is OK, you know things are NOT OK.
She will feel betrayed if you act to stop her, but it sounds like her sleeplessness and irrationality is moving her towards a psychotic break. If you witness her 'wigging out,' or if she calls you in a paranoid crisis, you would do well to call 911. It may save her life. Police are the standard for involuntarily committing a person in such a crisis to the nearest psychiatric stabilization unit for 72 hours of observation and treatment. Meanwhile, be supportive but do not enable her in any way (don't get involved with accompanying her to buy, sell or use).
Don't get caught up in her bad trip, but be available to help. At 21, she is supposed to be responsible for herself. If she refuses to take responsibility for her health and safety, do not allow yourself to be put in harm's way by your association with her. Your attachment will need to be balanced by a healthy detachment. She is not your responsibility, and you may need to let her go, while doing what you can to preserve the safety of whomever you can - including yourself.