4 minute read
Q. My buddy has started smoking dope a lot and I am worried about her. We went to school together and now we are both at college. She’s always been laid-back about work, but now she has started missing many lectures and I think she may fail this year. She is hanging around with a different crowd – they are OK and not bad people, but they all smoke too.
I’ve tried talking to her but she brushes me off as if I don’t get it. I don’t know what to do. Should I tell her parents? Name supplied
A. It sounds as if this situation is causing more distress for you than it is for your friend. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, but it would help to feel less responsible for this all on your own.
I don’t think that your friend’s parents are the best first call – she is likely to dismiss their views, and feel that she has lost you as a friend as well.
The best neutral source of drug-related information that I know is the education service Talk to Frank. It’s a government initiative to reduce the use of both legal and illegal drugs, by giving young people more skills and confidence for an informed conversation.
The website uses straightforward language and has a specific section on ‘how to talk to your friend about drug use’. They suggest that you pick a time when you are both sober, and a place which is private and familiar in case either one of you becomes upset. Allow plenty of time, aim to listen more than you talk and expect it to take more than one conversation.
The main point is to keep your friendship at the centre, and avoid talking in a way which assumes that you know better, even if you think you do. You cannot force your friend to change, but do remember that most people overcome their drug use before serious harm is caused.
I wonder whether the most constructive thing might be to focus your effort on the non-drug-taking part of her life – suggest that you meet in a cafe or library and do coursework together, or hang out in whatever way has always been normal for you. This may also help you to feel that your friend’s choices don’t have to take over your life too.
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Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email email@example.com, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.