So what if you're a level 70 rogue...
April 14, 2008 6:52 PM   Subscribe

How can I help my long-time friend get over these addictions and be more sociable?

I have this friend that I've known since I was 5 years old. We are both juniors at different high schools but hang out on the weekends often. Lately, however, he has practically become a hermit and has no desire or energy to do anything. I say lately, but this has definitely happened gradually over a longer period of time.

It seems that his only two interests are World of Warcraft and weed. He has no problem putting off real friends to play WoW. I believe he's logged somewhere around 200 days on that stupid game. A couple of my other friends and I used to play the game too, but we pretty much all got bored of it a year ago. Basically, his routine from what I understand is go to school, come home, smoke, play WoW, rinse and repeat. He goes to a private school, yet doesn't put much effort into schoolwork and doesn't really talk to his parents.

Now don't get me wrong, I'll smoke with him too, but I'm not down with smoking and watching TV all day. Some of our mutual friends and I have tried to get him interested in other things. We've invited him to parties, brought girls around him, etc. Not interested.

I guess my question is how can I help my friend be more sociable and spontaneous and less of a zombie? Or should I even be concerned with this? Am I overstepping my bounds here?
posted by rancidchickn to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Two things:

1. Admitting to smoking weed on a public website, using an account that provides easy access to your general location and full name is a pretty silly thing to do.

2. I'd guess that most high school students' daily activities can be pretty much summed up by "go to school, come home, Do A, Do B, rinse and repeat." Just because the two activities are "wow" and "smoking weed" doesn't necessarily mean he has some sort of problem. He might just like his new, online friends better than he likes his current real life friends.

That said... if he doesn't want to hang out with you, there's not much you can do about it short of ratting him out to his parents... and I don't think that's going to really endear him to you.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:08 PM on April 14, 2008

Keep trying.
posted by phrontist at 7:09 PM on April 14, 2008

I didn't actually read past the first step of this guide, so can't vouch for how good it is, but it could be worth a read.

However, the first step in that guide is 'admit you have a problem'. It seems to me this would have to be the first step for your friend to take if he wanted to rehabilitate himself - but at this stage it seems like you are the one with a desire for rehabilitation, not him.

Does your friend realize how much his life is ruled by WoW, and just does not have any desire to change? Does he dislike how he is currently living his life? Does he possess any aspirations, desires or motivations that lie outside the world of warcraft and weed?

While everyone has their vices and addictions, I think a heavy WoW and weed lifestyle is particularly destructive to one's future, especially at high school age.
posted by atmosphere at 7:13 PM on April 14, 2008

Keep trying, but also get some friends to go over to his place and confront him.
Or just go there, unplug his computer, force him out to a party where he can get drunk and smoke all night with friends.
posted by PowerCat at 7:14 PM on April 14, 2008

He's not anti-social because he loves smoking pot and playing WoW to the exclusion of everything else. He does those things so often because he's anti-social. Together with the no energy thing, that sounds essentially like depression. Wait a while to talk to his folks or anything...he'd be better off talking to a shrink, maybe through your school. He doesn't have to talk to them about smoking weed: a general description of his listlessness, lack of interest in socializing, etc. should be enough to get them started on a productive discussion and maybe a referral.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:17 PM on April 14, 2008

You could shift his addiction to something that involves more people, something more social... Texas Hold'em on Mondays, for example. Start slow, and after a month or two, come up with a second night of activities, airhockey tourney or pool, already that's almost 30% of his evenings doing something other than WoW. Perhaps the social interaction will provide other avenues for him.

It'll require a team effort, but he doesn't have know that the main reason you guys are playing poker (or anything else) is for him. Give it a shot!
posted by furtive at 7:35 PM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was kind of like your friend back in college, except instead of weed-smoking and WoW it was drinking and chatrooms. I'd stay in my dorm room and chat online for hours to people I never met. My real life friends slowly stopped inviting me to things, and I became more and more isolated. One day a good friend of mine told me that at the rate I was going, my only friend would be Windows 98. That woke me up enough to fight off my addiction. It was tough, though, because hanging out with real life friends seemed less interesting and was more threatening to me (I could "hide" online, but they saw me for who I was). What helped was having friends who accepted me as I was, who were bluntly honest with me when they saw me slipping, and who were really interested in what I had to say.
posted by desjardins at 7:38 PM on April 14, 2008

you've got a friend with a drug addiction and some serious emotional problems. The best course of action might be to have an honest conversation with his parents.
posted by HuronBob at 7:42 PM on April 14, 2008

Diagnosis: teenager
posted by unSane at 7:54 PM on April 14, 2008 [6 favorites]

Ultimatums, at this point. He's young so his lack of motivation doesn't deal out consequences that matter to him - he's got a place to sleep, money to (literally) burn, and school's an easy enough routine to flake through. Like desjardins says above, you need to cut ties and tell him that you want to hang out with him, but not in front of a screen. Any time he wants he can call and meet up with you somewhere other than his room, but you're not going to waste any more of your remaining high school years ironing out your asscrack.

Hopefully he'll begin to understand that he has friends, but he needs to make an effort to keep them. But if this is an actual emotional problem and the WoW/weed is just his way of self-medicating, he might become even more shut in so you should monitor the situation. If he doesn't even attempt to come out from the darkness and have real experiences, you may have to tell his parents to force him outside (no need to narc on him, just let them know he's acting anti-social to the point that you're worried about his mental health or his eventual metamorphosis into Gollum).
posted by krippledkonscious at 7:58 PM on April 14, 2008

I had a friend exactly like this in high school, except it was Everquest instead of WoW. We tried inviting him out, doing other things, etc. Eventually, we just hung out with him less and less, until we almost never saw him. I went out of state for undergrad

Ultimately, you can't make other people change if they don't want do. Trying will only make you feel annoyed you're wasting your time. And as some folks above have said, maybe losing friends will be the straw that breaks this camel's back.
posted by Nelsormensch at 8:40 PM on April 14, 2008

Can you convince him to get a job? I had quite a few friends that were serious stoners in High School, and while working restaurant jobs didn't get them to quit entirely, it abated their high time significantly.

This was back in the BBS/early IRC days of the internet, and it did help.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:23 PM on April 14, 2008

1. Admitting to smoking weed on a public website, using an account that provides easy access to your general location and full name is a pretty silly thing to do.

Dude...where do you live? Kansas? No..the internet police are NOT going to hunt down his username and bust his ass. Seriously.

As for your friend, OP, maybe he's just bored. It happens - especially in the teen years, and it's not fatal. Try enticing him with something INTERESTING...not just hanging out.. but fun. That will likely get him out of his room, but seriously - if there had been WOW when I was a teen, I would have never left my house.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:19 PM on April 14, 2008

Point out how much WOW is like having a job and that essentially you are gathering virtual things to sell for virtual money in the infinite quest to find better armor. He likes playing games, so convince him to play some other games with you and the friends like pool or whatever, even a LAN party with some FPS or RTS game just to get him to realize that there are more interesting things to do out there than just that game.

I honestly wonder if people clicking on mining nodes in WOW doesn't do some tedious task for some company somewhere.....
posted by occidental at 10:22 PM on April 14, 2008

I dated one of these types. Honestly, and I hate to say it -- there isn't much to do besides wait, do your best to get him outside, and encourage him to come to other, fun events with you that he's interested. Even if he's still smoking, if you can get him to do other things and not just smoke, play WoW, smoke, WoW, smoke, rinse and repeat, you're making some improvement.

At some point he'll grow out of it. WoW and weed addictions are unhealthy -- just like every other addiction -- but luckily, when he has friends encouraging him to do other things and get out, they're more often than not just a phase. It's just him being a teenager and feeling he has no responsibility to anyone besides himself and his own pleasure. Chances are great he will wisen up.
posted by elisabethjw at 10:46 PM on April 14, 2008

I'm almost the same as your description. Minus the weed smoking. I don't have any really decent vices to blame my lifestyle on. I wake up later in the day, go to work, come home. Play FPS games until 4am then fall asleep, repeat.

For me it's partly depression, after my studies and relationship when to crap I found relief through just playing FPS, at least it was something I am good at. I've avoided WoW for the very reason outlined here, I have friends who do nothing but farm gold all day or skip on outings so that they could complete a quest. Even some FPS clan members don't turn up to ladder matches due to their quest commitments.

I'm not saying the situation is the same for your friend, he might be perfectly happy. Really I'm probably crying out for someone to take me out somewhere and get me drunk.

Try this, go round to his house, unannounced and say that you had a cool idea to go to a zoo, or a bar or something like that. If you simply extend an invitation he (I would) probably decline, WoW (or FPS in my case) is the easy way out. So you have to coerce him into any expedition into the realm of RL.
posted by chrisbucks at 11:47 PM on April 14, 2008

There's a good reason that games of that genre often have slightly different slang names ... here are a few in common use in my friendship group:
- World of Warcrack
- Evercrack
- Guild Weeds
- Spreadsheeting your crack throughout the universe (eve online)
- Ultima Crack Online

... and we didn't give them those names entirely for fun. Each and every one of us has at times either succumbed to the addiction or had a close friend succumb. Those games, by their very design, reward pure time (as opposed to skill) put into them.

I had a housemate, once. He used to come home from work, click 'log in' to WoW, and *if* the queue was long enough, take a shower and visit the loo. He had a smoke and a cup of coffee when his group was in town and doing whatever it is you do to prepare for a raid (waiting for people to show up, etc). It was gross. Really gross. And sad.

I'd suggest your friend is deep in the throes of two addictions: weed and WoW. Breaking either is more than you can do. Be there for him as you can, but the only people I know who stopped playing without significant self-motivation did it because they couldn't afford internet for six months, and it was the lesser addiction (eg, the one with less severe withdrawl symptoms).
posted by ysabet at 11:51 PM on April 14, 2008

can i suggest you subtly introduce him to a nice girl.. harder than it sounds of course. I distinctly remember immediately forgetting everything I had ever known the moment I met my first girlfriend.

Yes I'm assuming he's straight, he doesnt sound very gay to me!
posted by daveyt at 4:50 AM on April 15, 2008

Obligatory mention of the South Park WoW episode (available online). You could watch that together.
posted by ersatz at 7:08 AM on April 15, 2008

I dunno bro, the hardest think you can do is to change someone's mind. The best thing I think would be to try and get him to realize that he's in a bad place, and help him figure how he should get out. I was addicted to weed for a long, long time and it really just made me socially anxious and depressed after chronic long-term use. I wish you the best of luck.
posted by saxamo at 8:06 AM on April 15, 2008

Yes I'm assuming he's straight, he doesnt sound very gay to me!

Somehow, I don't think playing lots of WoW and smoking lots of dope says anything about a person's sexuality (except perhaps that it's a neglected aspect of his or her life).

I have a friend like this. Pretty much all he does is get stoned and play WoW. I invite him to a lot more activities than he attends, but one in ten times or so, he'll come out and do something other than clickety clack on the glowbox all night. Persistence is really the key (at least with my friend). Just keep inviting him no matter how often he declines.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:15 AM on April 15, 2008

Seems there are only three options:

1. Replace his WoW addiction with a 'better' addiction. When I quit playing WoW it was because even a few minutes at the computer was causing me a lot of hand & finger pain so I knew I had to stop. I replaced WoW with teaching myself to play the banjo. Others have mentioned lots of other good options.

2. Wait and hope he grows bored with it and comes back around. Until that happens all you can do is forget about him. Trying to change someone rarely works out in your favor. You can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves. Let him know that you'd be happy to hang with him whenever he's done with warcrack and until then you'll stop calling/emailing.

3. Get his account banned. I'm only half joking. Even though as kids my sister and I dumped my mom's cigarettes into the toilet a few times it didn't make her quit smoking. It just pissed her off. Fifteen years later she quit on her own. Re-instating a WoW account is much more difficult than buying a new pack of smokes.
posted by J-Garr at 12:42 PM on April 15, 2008

You are a good person Rancidchicken to be caring for your friend like this. If you persist in trying to get this guy out of his WoWeed life and into RL then you will probably succeed. He is mired in his habits and needs to feel safe moving outside them. Try to offer easy ways to get him to say 'yes' to outings. If you are really interested in learning strategies, have a chat to your school counsellor. I mean, at the least you'll get to use the line... "I have this friend, see...."
posted by Kerasia at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2008

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