The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Drug Recovery

How can I help my friend who has turned to drugs?

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner:      Carrie Anne, you have a friend who started drinking and you want a way to talk with him?


Carrie Anne:    He actually started doing heavy drugs.


Dr. Kenner:      Ooh, okay.


Carrie Anne:    I’ve known him for seven years. My partner has known him for 20 years and he’s really part of the family. In the seven years I’ve known him, he has smoked pot but he’s never taken any heavy drugs. Nine months ago he started smoking crystal meth and we just found out last week, or earlier this week, that his neighbors have been harassing him and we know that he has kind of gone into a delusional state where he thinks they are watching him and know exactly what he’s doing.


Dr. Kenner:      So he’s paranoid.


Carrie Anne:    They’re talking to him and telling him every move that he makes.


Dr. Kenner:      So he’s losing his mind?


Carrie Anne:    He is.


Dr. Kenner:      He’s building a paranoia.


Carrie Anne:    He is, and he isn’t a threat to himself or anybody else. He’s not violent in any way. We just are very concerned about him. We are afraid, and at the same time he just found out yesterday that his dog, who is his baby, has cancer and he’s not going to make it for probably a month, the doctor said. Which is actually a good thing because our friend says he has to be clean for his dog, and we think he has been clean now for a week. But he still is hearing the voices and last night it kind of culminated and we were over there, just basically trying to be with him as much as possible, and he wants to take the siding off of his condo because he feels like we need to look in the walls and see where the cameras and microphones are hidden.


Dr. Kenner:      It sounds like he needs – and again I can’t evaluate him obviously so this is said in context – but it sounds like he needs hospitalization and he needs detox and really to have a thorough eval. The question is, you obviously care for him dearly, otherwise you could just say, “The heck with him. Who cares? He’s throwing away his life. I’m not going to destroy my own life.” That is the first point I want to make – you don’t want to destroy your own happiness in life. You can always reach out and give a lifeline to a friend. Be aware that you don’t want to do it at the cost of you not spending time with your loved ones, your partners, your friends and your work. It can cost you time and energy and effort and it should be relative to the importance of that person in your life. The second point is, you guys have been with him a lot and known him for so long. What are the values he has where you think you have a teeny window of opportunity to reach him? You said his dog. What else is around that you think is important to him, where you’ve seen just some little smithereens of, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this,” or movement in the better direction?


Carrie Anne:    I think right now, his dog is our last hope, in a way. I mean, we’ve only known about this, that he’s been hearing things, for the last week. And I know that you can’t evaluate him, but it’s more of what do we do?


Dr. Kenner:      Does he have a doctor or a medical doctor or therapist, a psychologist or some other mental health worker? Does he have one?


Carrie Anne:    He has a doctor. We’ve actually been in contact with the doctor. We have the last few days been really trying to get him to talk to somebody. With his dog dying, you really need to go talk to somebody.


Dr. Kenner:      And what does he say to you?


Carrie Anne:    He says, “I can’t take the time right now. I need to be with my dog.”


Dr. Kenner:      And is there a way that you could bring the dog with you, even if someone sits in the car with the dog?


Carrie Anne:    That’s exactly what I told him. I said, “You know, I talked to a psychologist who actually talked to me on the phone and it was extremely effective and you could be with Grr.” So I don’t know.


Dr. Kenner:      What about Grr wanting him to get better? Is there a way that you could say, “If your dog were aware of this, what do you think Grr would tell you?”


Carrie Anne:    That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about. He wouldn’t want you to be sitting here and – he’s not doing drugs right now – but he’d want you to be going out and taking him for walks and taking care of yourself.


Dr. Kenner:      You can also just not tell him what to do. Say, “What advice do you think Grr would give you right now?” And let him answer it for himself. You’ve already fed him the words, because you were just starting to tell me them. So those words may come back to him because you’ve already warmed up that context, a positive context. If he goes negative on you, you can never predict, sometimes, if he would say, “Well, Grr would tell me to just throw in the towel like he’s doing,” so if he goes negative on you, then change topic. Then you need another direction. But if you can use Grr, what would he or anyone who loved you think? You don’t have to mention yourselves, but let him do the thinking to capture. The goal is to get him to convince himself to get some help. Does he have any children?


Carrie Anne:    No.


Dr. Kenner:      Any family?


Carrie Anne:    He’s estranged from his family.


Dr. Kenner:      So major issues here. Anybody he really values? The two of you?


Carrie Anne:    We think we’re probably the last, his last hope.


Dr. Kenner:      Then you could say, “What do you think we might advise? You know we love you or care for you,” however you phrase it. “What do you think we might advise?”


Carrie Anne:    I will ask him that. I would hope that he would, I mean, I tell him I love him and he was staying over here the last four nights but he went back home last night. My partner is, he can tell that he’s not believing, he’s not judging, but not believing what is happening, and so the fact that somebody doesn’t believe, his other friends haven’t believed and say he needs to go to rehab, he just stops talking to him. We’re afraid if he stops talking to us, then that’ll be it.


Dr. Kenner:      You could talk to his doctor and see if there’s any way he could commit him. You hate to do this to anyone, but if they’re a threat. You said he’s not a threat to himself, he’s not suicidal, right?


Carrie Anne:    No.      


Dr. Kenner:      I’m going to recommend a book for you, which is Sober For Good. Which is also clean for good too. It’s by Ann Fletcher and she talks exactly about how people change themselves and how to reach out to them. She’s got a whole chapter on that. Thank you very much.


Carrie Anne:    Thank you so much.


Dr. Kenner:      You’re welcome.