Can I use my ex-coworker's drug paraphernalia to help him?
July 28, 2004 8:43 AM   Subscribe

A coworker was recently fired. After he left, under his desk was found a used syringe and a pipe (crack? meth?), both obviously used. What, if anything, can be done to help?

We weren't close. I'd worked with him -- but in a different department -- for about two years. Some of us were concerned about his weight loss and behavior but felt it wasn't our place to say anything. And now, I'm just torn by the urge to help, and the feeling that there's nothing that I can do. Any thoughts?
posted by papercake to Human Relations (12 answers total)
In my very limited experience, there's not much you can do if you weren't close. He won't listen to you; only people that are (or were) close to him can do anything.
posted by aramaic at 8:49 AM on July 28, 2004

He was using IV drugs at his desk? Dude, that's HARDCORE!

If you're not close, stay away. I live a pretty sheltered life, but I know one woman who tried to help a junkie and know of several others. And they were close to the addict. And all they got was disappointment, pleas for money and their stuff stolen. And in the case of my friend, her addict eventually succumbed to an overdose, making her feel much worse than if she'd just walked away.

If this incident really got to you, volunteer for people that you CAN help, like at a homeless outreach or with troubled kids.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:54 AM on July 28, 2004

And even if you were close, it still may not be possible. I have a friend who's a meth addict, who recently stole 100 bucks from a common friend of ours and--after saying for two days he was flat broke--used the $100 bill to pay for more meth, right in front of the person he stole the money from. This was a harsh, harsh lesson to my $100 poorer friend--he truly didn't understand how a drug could outweigh a valuable friendship until this point.

Needless to say, when one is that deep into addiction, almost nothing will help except to hit rock bottom and actually see the hand that's being offered to help one out of the hole they've dug themselves. Many people don't, which is both infuriating and heartbreaking.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:01 AM on July 28, 2004

In my quite extensive experience, an addict can only change when they are ready themselves to clean up; no amount of outside pressure or influence will do it for them.

The best way to help is to be there with resources when they are ready. If they come to you and say "I'm really in trouble and I need help," make sure you are one phone call away from having them on a bus to rehab.

Other than that, the best thing you can do is cut them off. Really, it sucks, and its painful for everyone, but you must say to them "I love you and care about you, and for those reasons I can't watch you destroy yourself or in anyway help you do it. When you are ready to get healthy I will be here for you and support you in every way possible, but until that day comes don't call me and don't talk to me."

Being that you weren't close to this person, perhaps you could mail him some NA pamphlets with a note expressing your sincere concern and desire to help, but I wouldn't get too personally involved in his life now if you weren't very involved in it before. And definitely don't give him any money no matter what he insists its for.
posted by ChasFile at 9:01 AM on July 28, 2004

Response by poster: In my quite extensive experience, an addict can only change when they are ready themselves to clean up; no amount of outside pressure or influence will do it for them.

This is what I figured as well -- but I (we) feel so sad that this was happening and that we didn't see it and that, now that we do see it, there's nothing to be done. He and I weren't close but we did talk, and were friendly, and I genuinely liked him and thought he was a talented guy... just so sad.

If this incident really got to you, volunteer for people that you CAN help, like at a homeless outreach or with troubled kids.

This is a great idea. At least I could feel like I was able to do something for SOMEone. I've been thinking of volunteering for a while now. Maybe this'll finally get me off my ass to do it.
posted by papercake at 9:26 AM on July 28, 2004

I'm sure everyone here is right, but if you want to talk to somebody, look here; you can probably find a place nearby and get an experienced opinion on what, if anything at all, can be done. They also might have some ideas about volunteering options.
posted by taz at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2004

A look at addiction.
posted by Gyan at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2004

Papercake, your desire to help is admirable, but from my own non-work but not-unrelated experience (a 'friend of a friend' that I'd spent enough time with to feel like I "had" to at least try), no one can help an addict but himself, and then only when he determines he needs or wants it. Channeling your concern into helping someone who can still be reached may be your best alternative. I second the idea of trying to help kids in some way, doing what you can to help them see alternatives to getting lost in drugs in the first place.
posted by JollyWanker at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2004

addiction is a fucked up thing. i've dealt with it in friends and personally myself. (from my personal experience i find that addiction stems from a self-destructive corner of the brain, one that is inherently dissatisfied with self and life and wants to be removed from both as much as possible for as long as possible.)

i don't know what you can do. the person really has to become aware that his life is being consumed by the drug before anything can be done.

maybe you or someone close to him can help, but personally i was never the type to turn to other people and would resent it when they tried to tell me something was wrong with me or what i "should" be doing. i don't know if that's common in addicts or more personal.
posted by nath at 2:29 PM on July 28, 2004

Just in case you were still wondering, do NOT get involved. Take it from someone who has suffered at the hands of one friend who was a junkie & another who dated NOT get involed.

There is one thing & one thing only that a junkie will ever care about: their fix. They will steal from you to get their fix. And they will not care.

Only the junkie can change their life and they have to want to. I can only repeat: Do not get involved. You will get burned.
posted by i_cola at 5:34 PM on July 28, 2004

Sadly - everyone is right. If you are not close, you can't help. They would even probably take advantage of the offer - talk you out of money, or get invited to your house and check out what there was to come back and steal later.
posted by sixdifferentways at 6:38 PM on July 28, 2004

The syringe could be because he was diabetic, or may not have even been his.

As for the pipe, what kind is it? Pot, hash, crack? Again, it may not have been his.
posted by mischief at 8:26 PM on July 28, 2004

« Older Got any advice on Japan?   |   Rejecting bogus "mail returned" email Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.