Dilemma: how do I help a drug-taking friend with her problem?

Katharine Whitehorn / 08 April 2016

A reader writes to agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn with concerns about her friend's recent drug addiction following a separation.

Dilemma: a drug-taking friend

A friend I have known for quite a few years has a son the same age as my son. 

Her husband, an alcoholic, has recently left her, and she takes drugs regularly (at weekends only, she says)! 

Her son is completely out of control – violent, no discipline – who of course has a bad influence on my child, so I have stopped him visiting us. 

This now results in her making phone calls at all sorts of hours – evening, early morning; these calls sometimes ask for assistance, but are often abusive, and under drug influence they are unpleasant. 

She used to be a friend but things are very difficult now and I don’t see what I can do to improve them. 

Is there anything I can do to help her? I just don't know what to do.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

The first thing you can do is to get a call-minder, so you simply don’t pick up the telephone when she calls you at tiresome times. 

You will still need to keep talking to her sometimes if you are to help her at all, but at least you can do it at times when she might be coherent and you feel up to being patient. 

But she plainly does need help, more than you can give her anyway, and I think you have to persuade her of this. 

Since the cause of her misery is being left by her husband, she might try Relate first; or, if in her sane moments she’s really quite aware of what’s wrong, she could try the drugs helpline, which is 0800 776 600, open 24 hours a day.

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