I’m asking on behalf of a friend, who for the purposes of this question I'll call ‘Ted’. A good friend of his ‘Pete’ has taken a turn for the worse. Ted saw Pete for the first time in several months, and he’s a mess.
Ted is seriously worried for Pete’s well being, he’s falling into a cycle of partying and drug use, and seems to be falling apart. Drugs, Physical and Mental Health issues abound, Ted wants to know how to help Pete before things get really bad.
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Posted with Ted’s blessing. Based in Los Angeles, location specified because it might be relevant to the culture. Ted and Pete have known each other for years. Ted has been living on Los Angeles for the past 5 years. Pete moved out there about a year and a half ago. They haven’t seen each other in a few months due to conflicting schedules. They met for drinks a couple days ago in celebration of Ted’s birthday. When Ted saw Pete, his appearance immediately stood out. He looked terrible; he’d lost a ton of weight, has a nervous energy to him, and alarm bells started going off that something was not right.
As they caught up with each others lives over the past few months, Pete regales Ted with stories of how he’s been partying excessively, drinking all night, and doing Molly into the day. Pete tells Ted said he’s going out most days of the week, parting 5 or 6 days a week. He’s glorifying the partying, but many of the stories obviously not good things. As an example, one of Pete’s friend had a major nosebleed at a bar from doing too much coke. Pete characterized it as being “so funny”, describing it as an example of the exciting things going on in his life.
In addition to that, Pete is losing a significant amount of weight, which he attributes to the molly and a lack of appetite. He recognizes that he is losing the weight, but thinks it’s a good thing. Pete has always had body images issues, especially when it comes to weight. Coming out to LA has made things worse. Pete tells Ted how molly has been really great for him, because he’s lost all interest in eating food. Pete complains about the fat he still has. The “fat” Pete pointed out to Ted isn’t fat, it’s skin hanging loosely from losing weight too quickly. Meanwhile his bones are jutting out at all sorts of angles. He looked gaunt, sickly.
He seemed to have a really distorted view of himself. It’s not just the weight issue. He’s been tanning a lot, to the point where his boss told him to lay off the tanning because it didn’t look good. Ted’s concerned that is symptomatic of a bigger issue with body image.
Pete has struggled with depression, and it’s been worse since arriving in LA. He has only been able to find part time work. He went through a phase where he was drinking a lot, and it seemed to stem in part from his inability to find meaningful and full time work out here. On the surface, the molly is “helping” with the depression, but it’s making everything else worse and Pete is oblivious to this. Pete had a boyfriend last time he and Ted talked, but the boyfriend left Pete. Pete opined that it was likely due to how moody he was after coming down from molly, but didn’t really seem to connect the dots that this was a sign of a bigger problem.
Pete’s behavior that night seems indicative of a bigger problem too. Ted said Pete spent a lot of time fidgeting and generally being distracted. Ted told me he was worried that if Pete was acting like that that in job interviews, that would ruin his job prospects. Pete kept touching his own face, rubbing his fingers together, generally not able to sit still. He also mentioned wearing the same clothing for the past few days, being too busy partying to go home and deal with clean clothing.
I spoke at length with Ted about this. he’s very concerned for Pete. All this has happened in a few short months. Ted said he’d previously seen Pete about 4 or 5 month ago, and there was no indication anything like this was happening. The dramatic weight loss has also happened in that short window. Pete’s afraid Ted is going to hurt himself irreparably. But he’s also deeply concerned that anything he says suggesting Pete is harming himself will be taken as an affront and will just alienate himself from Pete.
Ted’s reached out to another close friend of Pete, but he’s also not seen much of Pete either since this started to happen. They are trying to decide what, if anything they should do to try and help. Ted suspects anything like an intervention would be met with hostile resistance. Ted thinks it might be a good idea to contact Pete’s parents, who are supporting his life in LA. But he’s also struggling with the fact that Pete is an adult, and fundamentally can do what he wants to himself. He’s afraid that if Pete’s parents cut him off, Pete will just couch surf and use what little money he has to continue his lifestyle.
I have met Pete, although I don’t know him well. But based on Ted’s description it sounds like a very unhealthy combination of depression, drugs and anorexia. Neither of us are prudes, this but to me this sounds like an extremely bad combination that won’t just end in a lost friend but possibly a lost life. We're looking for suggestions how best to help Pete, or even if it's appropriate.