Help: My Friend Is On Drugs and I Just Can't With Her Right Now

Help: My Friend Is On Drugs and I Just Can't With Her Right Now

Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel’s column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you’re not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email [email protected].

I have two female roommates (and I’m female) and we’re all in our late twenties. In the past year or so, I started to realize that the toilet seat is wet when I go to sit down. Upon further inspection, I’ve realized that this is a sprinkling of pee – I’ve thought maybe it could be shower water remnants or something but when I wiped it up with toilet paper, I realized it had a yellow tint. I know which roommate it is because the third roommate isn’t home very often and it happens when she isn’t home. It really hasn’t been a huge deal UNTIL I noticed period drips on more than one occasion. I’m afraid to have friends over. What do I do?

I’m going to give you too options: passive-aggressive and appropriate. I’m including the passive-aggressive one because it involves perhaps the most stirring and emotionally poignant poem of our time.

Passive-aggressive solution: Leave her a note that says, “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and WIPE THE MOTHERFUCKING SEAT.”

Appropriate solution: Casually say, “Hey Linda, I’ve noticed pretty frequently that we have pee on our toilet seat a lot. I don’t know if it’s you or me but I thought we could make a joint effort to not be gross.” Then laugh about it and say something about imagine if a boyfriend/girlfriend saw that, blah blah blah, hahaha, LOL.

Give it a week.

If she’s still pissing all over the toilet seat, sit her down and be direct and firm about it. Don’t shame her; it might not be rudeness but something related to her own potty-training. I actually just chatted with a urologist about this kind of thing and apparently it can go all the way back to childhood. I’m not psychoanalyzing, just saying let’s give her the benefit of the doubt here.

I teach 4th grade, and I am one of the more significant male presences in my students’ lives. I just watched the documentary “Miss Representation,” and frankly it scared the crap out of me. I try to do what I can: I encourage girls to take on leadership roles, call people out when they classify an interest as gendered, treat my female colleagues with respect, and try to include read-aloud books with strong female characters and themes. I brought this up in a faculty meeting and nobody seemed too interested, even my friends on the faculty. How do I show my work friends that this is really important stuff without coming off as preachy or annoying?

You are awesome. You are a hot dreamboat glorious gentleman from heaven above. You are great. It sounds like you’re doing everything right in the classroom! Thank you for doing this for our girls.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s look at ways in which you can get your colleagues on board. Why don’t you have a gathering at your house to show “Miss Representation” and lure the other teachers in with booze/food (I used to be a teacher and we all LOVED booze and food because, hello, teachers are human). I mean you could always ask folks to stay after school to watch it in your classroom, but c’mon, everybody needs to blow off steam (my teacher friends used to go to the bar once a week after school and call it “choir practice” in front of the kids.) So why not convince them to come to a faculty gathering at your house with the stated intention of showing them an amazing documentary that will blow their minds? That way it’s sort of halfway work, halfway social gathering. You could say you’re showing the film and moderating a talk afterwards with brainstorming an action plan and oh yeah, there will be cocktails and ice cream too. You’re providing a LITERAL spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

In an ideal world, they’d just jump on board with you at faculty meetings, but they’re exhausted and drained and perhaps a bit jaded by a really tough job, so you may need to be crafty and use the promise of Cherry Garcia and bourbon. And that’s okay! Good luck, sir. Keep fighting the good fight.

My best friend in the world (matching tattoos and everything) recently lost her ex boyfriend to an overdose. They’d been broken up since she got clean about a year ago, and she admitted to me she’d only stayed with him because he was dealing. I’m worried she’s going to die. She has shown signs of using again, and when she relapsed a couple months ago, she ended up being left for dead by the people she was with. I can’t emotionally handle her needs right now. Am I being a shitty friend by distancing myself from her? I’m barely 2 years clean and have a new baby, a family and a real life that sometimes feels tenuous. I feel like not being able to be there for her is some kind of a betrayal to our friendship. Is this wrong? Am I being selfish? I know I need to be upfront with her, but I don’t know what to say to her.

You are not being selfish. You are being so very smart. You MUST take care of yourself first, even if the most important thing in the world to you is the happiness of your loved ones. You are important enough and special enough to deserve self-care. You are vital enough to be one of your own top priorities. Besides, if you do not take care of yourself, no one else can benefit from your help. And you’re a mother now, so this is even more important – you’ve got a little tiny bitty person depending on you to have your shit together.

I’m going to make a recommendation for how to broach this topic, but I want you to run it past your sponsor or shrink for some adjustment for your specific situation. As with any advice, look at it as a basic directional signal rather than a detailed and specific map. I’m not an expert in addiction so I’m not sure to what extent you should bring up your concerns about her using again. So let’s approach this one delicately.

Consider sitting your friend down and saying, “Lisa, I am worried about you. I can’t be as available as I used to be, because my new baby has to come first. I also have to take time to take care of myself and manage my own sobriety. But that doesn’t mean I don’t notice certain things. I really hope that you get the help you need right now during this tough time.” Then make concrete suggestions – she can go to a meeting, talk to her therapist or an addictions specialist, etc. She is probably in deep mourning, and grief counseling may be a great choice for her.

And then once you make those fine suggestions and let her know you love her, guess what you do? You take care of yourself. There is no need to limit your love for this woman, but if this is emotionally exhausting you, you must limit your time with her. Note that I am not making a moral judgment here. I do not believe she is at fault for her own addiction. I do believe there is no room in your life for people who bring you down or divert your attention from your goals. You cannot save anyone from addiction. You can point the way to help, but you must not emotionally and spiritually drain yourself in an effort to save someone else. She must make her own choices, and so must you.

I wish you the best, and I congratulate you on having almost two years. That is an enormous achievement.

Follow Sara on Twitter: @SaraJBenincasa

Illustration by Tara Jacoby.

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