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What to do about friend's drug use?
September 17, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Uncertain about friend's increased drug use, could use some meta-advice.

My group of friends, and myself, have dabbled in recreational drugs for over a decade, nothing major and pretty casual usage. In the past 6 months or so, several of our group have gone deeper into harder stuff, namely cocaine. It's at a point now where they really don't socialize at all without at least a little bump, even if they are just coming over for coffee after work.

This came to a head last Friday night, we were all out at a gig to see a band we all like, I never saw them all night as I was on the dance floor enjoying the show, several of them got busted by bouncers in the bathroom and tossed out. I got an email this morning which mostly consisted of how upset they were to get busted as 'they weren't hurting anyone and can you believe this?'. They are asking for an email reply. I have no idea what to say, at all. I value these friends and am worried for them and myself both.

(also, I went though a similar cycle long ago in a different city, almost note for note with a different group of friends, it ended up bad, I moved to get away from a quickly sinking ship that in the end did indeed sink, and I have not heard from those people in 15+ years, difference being then we were dumb kids, this time around it is about adults with lives)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total)
 
Are these friends you can dump without causing your entire social life to explode? Or worse, does it touch your work life or your family in some way?

If not, and these are just some people on the periphery of your circle that you can easily choose to stop interacting with, I would do that.

If it were me, I probably wouldn't respond to the email and would quietly just disengage. But I'm non-confrontational.

I once had a roommate in a large share house who was on this same cycle of careless and entitled use of hard-drugs, and we had a house meeting where we were like, "no." I think that's a perfectly good response here, too.
posted by Sara C. at 4:29 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember when I reached a point in my life that I realized that I wasn't really into sketchy stuff any more and that it was probably not a good idea to surround myself with sketch, even at the expense of a few friends.

I know plenty of recreational drug users who are just that and otherwise responsible adults and also plenty who ended up fucking themselves mentally, physically, and financially with the stuff. Your friends sound like they might heading towards the latter end of that scale and you know it because you have been there.

You say it's "several" in the group. What about the ones who aren't into that? What are they saying?
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:39 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


First, get in the mindset that they are not entitled to anything from you, just because they ask for it. Not an email, not a ride, not an hour of your time. The default is no. I'm not saying this just because of the drug situation. You got an email you don't want to respond to, so don't respond to it.

If you're worried for them then I would consider talking to them but realistically, any time I've seen an entire group of friends get heavily involved in abusing a substance like this (alcohol, meth) they reinforced and normalized each other's usage and it went really bad really fast. Like one day everyone has jobs and normal-ish lives and then I blink and a few months later people are getting arrested and breaking and entering and just being crazy and completely intolerable for everyone else. So I would also be ready to jump ship emotionally.

I'm very sorry. This is really difficult and sad and I wish you had your friends minus the cocaine.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:40 PM on September 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


The standard advice is to not get into an argument with a drug addict. They are in deep in the throes of their addiction and will not see you pointing out reality as helpful. Let them know you are available if they need help but do not engage with them about something like this.
posted by mlis at 4:41 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't answer the email. If you feel the need to reply you could say something neutral and short such as, "hated to hear that you were tossed out."

If you care about these people you might say something in person such as, "I care about you guys a lot and worry about your increased use." There is nothing wrong with telling somebody you love them and worry about them. After you say it, leave it, and if it's out of control, think about moving on to another friend group who doesn't feel outraged and entitled to use cocaine in a public place.
posted by Fairchild at 4:42 PM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh and I hate to be like this about people you care about, but you should probably stop inviting them over before they start stealing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:53 PM on September 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Remember that associating with you is a privilege, not a right. Tell these friends that you need some time and space. If they are good friends they will give it to you without questioning it.
posted by poe at 4:53 PM on September 17, 2012


I'd send a short email to the effect of, "that sucks" and have that be the end of my opinion on the matter. Playing the victim when your illegal activities were so obvious that you got caught and thrown out is a bit much. If my friend(s) wrote an email saying how sorry and embarrassed they were, I'd consider writing a more thoughtful and concerned reply, but it doesn't sound like that's the email you got.

Keep your own well-being primary and disengage if that's what feels right. I've seen cocaine use like what you describe resolve and be ok (the person gets sick of it and quits without intervention), and I've seen it absolutely destroy lives.
posted by quince at 4:55 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't reply. It'll might seem strange not to, as if you are not living up to the friend code. You might feel a bit guilty and worry a lack of engaging will salt the connection(s). And you'll be right. You don't seem to want to respond, so don't. By not responding, you are slightly moving away from those friends, which sounds like what you want to do.

They have a new interest that you don't share, thus your roads have slightly diverged. Doesn't mean they won't come back together later, that you're a bad friend, or that they are bad people. All it means is that they want to spend their time one way and you want to spend yours in the another. It's okay to not respond.

You may well feel quite empowered in a short time for making a decision to take your life in a different direction. Thinking out loud, this is 1) probably about more than an email, and 2) it may not about a response to how they spend their time – it may well be about giving yourself permission to spend yours differently.

Or it may not be. Good luck.
posted by nickrussell at 5:07 PM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


They are asking for an email reply.

Did the great big red flags just go up for anyone else with that line?

Do. Not. Respond.

I don't know what angle they have on this, but just pretend the email went to your spam folder if anyone ever asks. You have no "right" answer there, no matter how you really feel.

As for your gut instinct here - I have no problem with any illegal drug, and fully support complete and unconditional legalization. And it sounds like this subgroup of your friends has a problem.

Distance yourself from the eventual fallout, or prepare to deal with it. But don't answer that email.
posted by pla at 5:16 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't reply, don't engage. Just move on from them already.
posted by heyjude at 5:26 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everybody who is telling you not to reply is right: just because someone emails, texts or phones you, does NOT mean you are required to answer them. If you don't want to or are uncomfortable doing so, then just don't reply.

And as for that "we weren't hurting anyone" line: doing it in a business like a concert venue could mean police raids, arrests and possible legal troubles for management --- OF COURSE they tossed your friends out, if only to cover their own butts. Doing it in someone's home can risk the residents being evicted or even having the property seized.

And all of that doesn't even get into their rudeness at going to the concert with you, then totally abandoning you all night long.
posted by easily confused at 5:30 PM on September 17, 2012


"(also, I went though a similar cycle long ago in a different city, almost note for note with a different group of friends, it ended up bad, I moved to get away from a quickly sinking ship that in the end did indeed sink, and I have not heard from those people in 15+ years, difference being then we were dumb kids, this time around it is about adults with lives)"

Tell them this.

(I don't understand what the potential big red flags are of responding to an email?)
posted by gjc at 6:10 PM on September 17, 2012


(I don't understand what the potential big red flags are of responding to an email?)

"Hey, no worries, it's cool, just a bit of fun, right? What, you have a problem with it? Naw man, not like tha... Shit, I'll bet you ratted us out that night, didn't you? DIDN'T YOU! You fucker, i'mma mess you up next time I see you! You'd better run you pussy! Shitshitshit! Hey, d'you hear about Joe? That fucker ratted us out last week! yeah, you heard me right!"

I completely support legalization, but trying to argue rationally with an addict boils down to the same scenario as arguing with the delusional - You just can't win; best outcome, don't even play.
posted by pla at 7:03 PM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Red flag went up for me with the asking for an email reply too, but for a different reason. Not legal advice, but I would be pretty careful not to acknowledge/reference/come close to mentioning my own casual drug use to any friends of mine who were starting to get busted for more serious use and asking me to respond to things in an email format. Just cause, you know, never know where those emails might end up.
posted by twiggy32 at 7:48 PM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Yes -- it was a stressful evening for all of us, unfortunately" would be a judge-y reply, of course, but it might also be a nice way to start making clear that you are starting to disengage.
posted by kmennie at 4:01 AM on September 18, 2012


If they are really your friends, be honest! I would email back 'damn dude quit getting kicked out of the bar doin drugs!'
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:10 AM on September 18, 2012


Every email implicitly requests a reply, you're saying they said "Please reply in email?"

As in "please put in writing that you are a fellow drug user?" Don't you smell a rat here? I do.
posted by tel3path at 8:46 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got an email this morning which mostly consisted of how upset they were to get busted as 'they weren't hurting anyone and can you believe this?'

I agree that not answering is wise. But if you're with your friends and they keep trying to get you to share in their outrage, I'd say something like this- "yeah it sucks to get kicked out of the concert but you can't expect the bar do to anything different. Yeah you weren't hurting anyone but that's not what it's about- the bar has to cover its ass! The same would happen in any bar, or any business for that matter."
posted by beau jackson at 10:14 AM on September 18, 2012


I understand they are your friends, and nobody wants to just cut contact / lose their friends without trying to save the relationship. Its apparent you care for their wellbeing too, which any good friend would. I'd suggest emailing back purely honest. Mention that you agree it sucks that they got kicked out, but note that you're worried about the slippery slope you see them falling down, note that the next time they may be arrested rather than just kicked out, note how you've witnessed this happen before in your life and don't want to see it happen again. Say your old friends were stupid and you had to leave them, and you hope that your new friends are smarter/more mature and can realize you're not criticizing or judging them, just looking out for their wellbeing.

If they fight / get confrontational, then the drugs are unfortunately deluding them and you have to let nature take its course; in this scenario you may have to disconnect. But maybe they'll hear your heartfelt reality check and do some soul searching themselves.

As mentioned, they're supporting each other's behavior, maybe words from one of their peers who are observing from outside the circle will slap some sense into them. Adults know its an addictive substance, they think they are keeping it under control right now. All you need to make them understand is that their own perspective is a bit biased by the chemical they're ingesting.
posted by el_yucateco at 8:09 AM on September 20, 2012


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