Help a friend with a meth addiction
January 18, 2007 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Help me help a friend overcome a meth addiction.

I have a dear friend who has recently confided that she has a meth addiction, and has had for a year. This came somewhat as a suprise, she's managed to hold her life together much better than other meth addicts I've run across. She's been clean since the day before Christmas and genuinely wants to stay clean but is still having a tough time at it. I've helped her arrange a sitdown with a counselor and find resources for some serious outpatient care, but what can I do to support her as a friend? I want to do anything I can for her, no matter how small. Has anyone been through something like this? Anonymous replies can go to
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total)
If you search through the archives, you'll find some similar questions that have been extensively discussed (start with the "addiction" tag).

Here's my #1 bit of advice: DO NOT GIVE HER MONEY. In fact, if she asks to "borrow" some money from you, take it as a sign that she's slipped back into her addiction.
posted by mkultra at 9:10 AM on January 18, 2007

It sounds like a token gesture, but telling her that you're proud of her for deciding to fix her life and that you appreciate her letting you help might be a good start.

Also, I'm under the impression that getting over meth can be tough. Perhaps you can bring her comfort foods and other things like that? Try and reduce the other stresses in her life for a little while.
posted by JMOZ at 9:12 AM on January 18, 2007

Hang out with her a lot. Any time she spends with you sober is time she cannot be high.
posted by OmieWise at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind that now she has confided in you, she may hide any relapses from you so that you won't be disappointed, disapproving, or hurt about it.
posted by hermitosis at 9:33 AM on January 18, 2007

She needs to cut all contact with her drug-buddies, even if they are family. That is perhaps the hardest, but most important thing to do.

As you mentioned, she should get some counseling/behavior therapy, etc. Depending where she is, she may be able to get outpatient services for free. If your friend has insurance, she may be able to get coverage for counseling/therapy sessions, or even a stay in a residential treatment center. You could help her look into that.

Again, sorry to sound like a broken record, but the best thing you can do is to help her stay away from the people she used with, bought from, etc. Contact with them will be her ruin. Maybe you could take her somewhere far far away for a couple of days? Go to the mountains or the desert, someplace quite and serene, this might help your friend immensely.
posted by Mister_A at 9:33 AM on January 18, 2007

That's someplace quiet and serene...
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on January 18, 2007

Research has shown that there are "triggers" for addictive behaviors. Objects, sounds, people, smells -- certain sensory stimuli can evoke a strong desire to abuse whatever a person is addicted to.

She will know some of her own triggers -- help keep her away from them, as Mr. A has alluded to.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 9:52 AM on January 18, 2007

One of the troubles with meth (at least in my limited personal experience) is that people on it can seem pretty functional. One of my best friends was on meth most of our junior year of high school and I never had any idea.

As far as helping her goes, just be loving and supportive. She may want you to take a large role in this, or she may not. You have to realize that important life decisions are always hers, even if she is fucking up. I guess the other thing is try to hold her accountable for her actions, without being judgemental or punishing her. Don't accomodate her drug use or symptoms thereof. Also realize that it's damn hard to get off drugs, and any tiny step in the right direction is huge, especially to her, if she's trying.
posted by !Jim at 10:04 AM on January 18, 2007

Keep in mind that now she has confided in you, she may hide any relapses from you so that you won't be disappointed, disapproving, or hurt about it.

If she starts to avoid you soon, there may be a relapse (or potential relapse) she's hiding.

On the other hand, she may come to associate you with a difficult time in her life. I would say, if she starts avoiding you after she's been clean for several months, she may be trying to put the difficult times behind her.

Maybe you've seen her at her worst and she wants a new friend or two that have no knowledge of her addiction or recovery. Or she may come to resent you for being able to stay clean so "easily." This may test your friendship, or even end it.

I don't think anyone can tell you how to avoid this type of scenario, and it might not even happen. The advice about not judging her is good, but I would also suggest that you give her some space to think and talk things through at her own pace, or maybe try to involve her in some new habits or activities. Never bring up the addiction unless she does. Remind her of the things she does well.

You are a good friend for even asking this question.
posted by whatnot at 11:47 AM on January 18, 2007

I have an acquaintance who managed to quit cold turkey. He's gone from being a homeless drug dealer and car thief to an employed college student working toward a college degree in civil engineering. He decided he'd seen the drug do enough harm to people he cared about, and that was it.

The difficulty of overcoming a meth addiction will vary by person, and she definitely doesn't need guilt or pressure if it's a major struggle for her. But she does have some control over how steely her resolve is. Maybe knowing that some people do it without years of trauma will give her some encouragement?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:20 PM on January 18, 2007

The Nar (or meth) Anon in your area might help.
posted by brujita at 9:51 PM on January 18, 2007

My younger sister is the only person who has admitted meth use to me. She was in a very bad place, and still is.

Seconding recommendations for a hot meal and an ear.

And a new suggestion: If you have the resources to get her a dental check up, please do that. Meth does a lot of things to people that are terrible for the teeth. It's smoked, people on it tend not to think they need to eat or drink water, and they are exponentially less likely to brush and floss. Even a short addiction to meth can cause serious problems. Any minor meth related problems that aren't taken care of soon will grow.

My sisters biggest concern is her teeth. Her dental problems started well before she was a meth user, but now they are worse. She has low self esteem, is always in pain, is and gets terrible infections, and I can't help her with this. It pains me not to be able to contribute to her care.

If you cannot help with the cost of such care, and your friend is not offended by it, see about low or no cost options in your area.
posted by bilabial at 11:42 AM on January 19, 2007

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