How can I help?
October 5, 2006 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I have a dear pal with a coke habit that has driven him to homelessness. He is not a US-native; he grew up in pre-change Eastern Europe. He does have a green card. He has had trouble hiolding job and appears to have never received training in money-management issues either in the US or at home. I do not want him to die, which he will surely do this year if things do not change. What can I do?
posted by mwhybark to Human Relations (15 answers total)
 
Get him into rehab somehow? I think a coke habit is not the kind of thing that you're going to be able to just talk him out of; pros are needed.
Your town might have some kind of money management classes for new immigrants (which he could take even if he's not new), but the bigger problem is the expensive drug habit.

Does he have any family here that you know?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:35 PM on October 5, 2006


Second what LobsterMitten said about you not being able to "talk him out of" a heavy coke habit. It is a myth that it works like that.

He will need some kind of support system or network in place that can help him recover, and give him the tools he need so he can make a better life for himself. Are there any NA meetings around the area? Family? Maybe even other eastern Europeans who would help him?

Here's a booklet on self-detox, including drugs like cocaine. If he is really your friend you should make an effort to help him - to be part of that support system that will help him relieve his habit - but remember, HE has to be the one who wants change. You can't solely want it for him if you want him to succeed.
posted by ifranzen at 10:08 PM on October 5, 2006


There may be money management services in your area (people who will manage his money for him and/or teach him to manage his money over time) but really unless you can convince him to do something there's not a whole lot you can do.

He won't quit coke unless he wants to. Even then he may not.

It's tough to have friends who are addicts, to watch them keep on screwing up, but it's important for you to realize that he's responsible for himself.

What makes you sure he'll die?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 10:14 PM on October 5, 2006


Try ADATSA. It sounds like your friend may be a PRUCOL alien, which means he would be eligible.

You don't say, but if he is an injecting drug user, he will get priority treatment.
posted by owhydididoit at 10:19 PM on October 5, 2006


Maybe remind him that there are good things worth living for. Does he have any family? Any old girlfriends (or boyfriends) that he might still have feelings for? It seems like having someone you love (especially a child) or even just something he likes to do CAN motivate someone to quit, and/or realize the beauty of being alive, again.

/don't mean to sound too pop-psych
posted by ifranzen at 10:29 PM on October 5, 2006


If he doesn't want help, there isn't anything you can do besides either watch him decline more, and hope he hits bottom before he dies, or cut him off, thereby maybe helping him to hit bottom before he dies, or leaving you not knowing what happened.

FWIIW, I'm a recovering addict, and I'd go for the latter.
posted by QIbHom at 11:03 PM on October 5, 2006


You might find this interesting reading. It's Kevin Smith's account of his friend Jason (Jay from the movies)'s struggle with drug addiction and the things Smith did to try to help, and how it dragged out over years even with good intentions and love all around. (Happy conclusion to the part of the story to date, you'll be glad to hear.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:12 PM on October 5, 2006


I had a great friend with a heroin problem, and I spent years trying to help him out. I probably did as much harm as good. People only beat addictions when they take responsibility for it, and for their lives in general. Too much help can interfere with this.

I went to a Families Anonymous group for a while during this. FA is a 12 step group for the families and friends of addicts. It really helped me understand addiction, and how to really help. Also a very eye opening experience.
posted by Touchstone at 1:08 AM on October 6, 2006


First, decide what you are willing to give up for him. Are you going to let him collapse financially or give him money? Are you going to let him sleep on the street or on your couch? What if he goes through your wallet or steals your shit to get drug money? What if you invite him in and then see no way to get him out? Stuff like that. How much shit are you willing to put up with from a drug-craving work-shy bumbler who used to be cool but now, maybe not so much? Know your limits concerning him, then be careful to maintain those limits or risk messing up your life without fixing his.

And try to find out about relatives and opportunities back home. He might be better off where he came from, with a better support net (family and government) than he has in the US. If it's just you here vs several relatives and friends back home, he could at least spread his burden around back home, and all of them could try together to get him off coke and off the dole.
posted by pracowity at 6:55 AM on October 6, 2006


If he gets arrested (in some cases even for possession), he can be deported. Watch the outcome of this case. He may be better off back in his own country of his own volition. Agree with those above about your relative powerlessness in this scenario.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:26 AM on October 6, 2006


He's not injecting. I have limits in place. I have determined I have to let him hit bottom; I do want to have information lined up for him when he's ready to help himself. The links above are just the sort of thing I was after, thanks very much.

I think he will die because his self-loathing is so apparent and it is a key element in his unwillingness to go to his family for help. I know him well enough that I expect him to lose his car (his current sleeping room) and project that this will lead to chronic homelessness, with the substance problem in place or transferred to booze. That state of affairs has a negative impact on an individual's lifespan.
posted by mwhybark at 8:16 AM on October 6, 2006


Also, green-card aliens are PRUCOL, it appears.
posted by mwhybark at 8:18 AM on October 6, 2006


and, oops, yes, he has family here.
posted by mwhybark at 8:24 AM on October 6, 2006


"I think he will die because his self-loathing is so apparent and it is a key element in his unwillingness to go to his family for help. I know him well enough that I expect him to lose his car (his current sleeping room) and project that this will lead to chronic homelessness, with the substance problem in place or transferred to booze. That state of affairs has a negative impact on an individual's lifespan."

You're right, those things do have a negative impact on lifespan. (Un)fortunately maybe not so large as you suspect, based on people I've known who live on the street that state of "chronic homelessness" can persist for years and years. Unless he is actively trying to off himself there could be many years of homelessness ahead for him.

Where's his family at in all this?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:20 AM on October 6, 2006


Just a small word to the wise: in Seattle, if someone stays in your domicile for ten or more days, and you accept any form of payment from them, they have a tenancy claim, and cannot be made to leave without an eviction (although if they become a threat, you might be able to get a restraining order and keep them out while you evict them).

I'm not saying that your friend would turn into a problem, but it is something you should think about before agreeing to house him.
posted by owhydididoit at 2:03 PM on October 6, 2006


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