Wed | Jun 23, 2021

My best friend is a drug addict

Published:Tuesday | May 29, 2012 | 12:00 AM

My best friend of 20 years is a drug addict and I do not know what to do. We were best friends from high school. We studied together, played sports and partied together. When he got married I was his best man, and I returned the favour. I asked him to be godfather of my son and he returned the favour. We lost touch for a few years while he was overseas studying for his PhD. He returned a changed person. I was aware of a drug problem, but not the severity of the situation. He was still brilliant but his marriage was broken and he was estranged from his children. Nevertheless, he could function and the relationship became as thick as ever. One day he admitted to me that he was on cocaine and it was a serious addiction. He revealed that he had been to rehab, but that did not work. He said he tried Christianity but that did not help the situation. In the conversation, he mentioned that he was a messiah and would change the world for the better. Regrettably, he asked me to leave his presence and does not accept my telephone calls. He now hangs out with fellow addicts and his family is concerned. I am also distressed and am at my wits end not knowing what to do. My wife tells me to just forget about him and move on because he has moved on to a different crowd. To be honest, I am afraid to visit him where he lives. Do you have any tips?

It is sad to hear about a brilliant mind going to waste because of drug addiction. Your best friend is not the first person to waste away due to drug addiction, and chances are he will not be the last. You are to be commended for being a true and loyal friend in time of great need.

Because he has been to a drug-rehabilitation centre, and it did not fully work, does not mean another visit will not help. For some persons, it is not the first attempt that will lead to recovery. So, just in case, there is another opportunity for interaction with him, you should encourage him to return to a drug-rehabilitation centre. Similarly, because he became a Christian and he did not live up to Christian principles, does not mean should not seek to renew his relationship with God in an attempt to sever links with drug addiction. Furthermore, that he is having images of grandeur, as a messiah, shows that he needs professional help which is beyond your abilities. So, in that sense your wife is correct to say you should move on; that is it is difficult to help someone who does not want your help. Therefore, you need to encourage him to seek professional help, urgently.

Your role is to be supportive and to let him know you will always be a friend, and whenever he wants to renew the relationship you are willing and able so to do. Tell the family not to give up on your best friend, but to provide a supportive atmosphere for him. They might be blaming themselves for his addiction, but try and re-assure their it is not necessarily there fault. Your friend has to take responsibility for his actions.

You should not be surprised that he asked you to leave his presence and has stopped accepting your calls. It could be that he is embarrassed by his state and you are a reminder that he is a failure. In addition, he could be going through a phase and he feels more comfortable with like-mined coke addicts. Please do not feel too hurt by him distancing himself from you.

Instead, continue to be supportive and, if possible, encourage him to seek professional help.