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Addiction to Drugs/Dragging temporary girlfriend into Heroin


Hi there, Ive been dealing with a major drugs issue in my friendship group for a long time. we are all just about turning 18 however some have been taking mdma since they were 14.some people in the group had parents involved wheras others got in by knowing others, I however am kind of the sober mum figure . theres always been a relaxed look on drugs in my group - its okay to try stuff just don't overuse it , and treating weed just like its alcohol. This was okay in the sense it was just teens experimenting, however last year it took a turn for the worst. Being the only person in my group who doesn't enjoy any drugs ive watched the attitudes towards them slowly slipping, and last year one of my friends got a number to a heroin dealer. not knowing what to do I just told them to 'wait at least until they are older' - they all take whatever comes there way and I couldn't think about how to put them off this . SO off and on for a year people have been doing heroin - no one addicted but no one understanding the severity of it. Recently my closest friend (lets call her Amy) got into a relationship with another person in my group (lets call him Jim) , we are all very close so this wasn't something new to us. Jim had just broken up with his long term girlfriend, another girl in our group. this got messy but sorted itself out, eventually leaving Amy in a weird relationship with Jim. Jim started to take heroin very regularly and became very self destructive, drinking constantly throughout the day and taking lots of Acid, Ketamine and Heroin whenever he could. We were very woriedd about him, getting his mum involved with him staying clean for a few months . Recently he has started to almost convince Amy to be self destructive also, something she is familiar with as she deals with depression. SO for a while now she has been acting all sad and angry around him , obviously showing off to him so that he might possibly love her. Me and the others can see he just wants someone to go with him down the messy route hes already on , which is horrible, but we think Amy can be saved. We called Jims mum again and told him everything but are not going to get Amys parents involved as they would only make her feel more isolated and she needs to know she doesn't have to do everything Jim says to have someone care about her. Main issue is that she cant see the problem and says 'she has everything under control and is fine' which is not true as she comes around after a night of heroin with cuts on her arms . I just don't know what to do , I told her that I cant handle this anymore and have tried to help as much as I can however I cant see her if she is like this , acting so differently when around Jim and doing things she obviously doesn't want to because he says it will be fun and she doesn't want to seem lame. Worst part is that he wouldn't even care if she didn't want to do a drug or didn't want to smash something but she feels if she messes up he will go back to his old girlfriend -who he regularly confesses still loving. Amy also just had an abortion of Jims child -- something they treated so lightly they took heroin the night before. We are 17, and I don't know if they will be alive in 10 years if this continues.  

Okay sorry for the rant, my questions now are these:
1, how do I make Amy realise that although she loves him, she needs to make a decision and save herself?

2.  To lots of others Jim has repeatedly mentioned ending the relationship to try win his ex back and that Amy isn't the right one . Amy knows this and apparently 'can handle it'. how do I make her understand that she is worth more than this?

3. We have Jims parents involved and know a couple other adults who Amy would trust but should we tell her parents? I know she went through a very rough time as they treated her depression very badly, not being very supportive but I also don't want her to feel isolated..

4. How do I get her to realise that being self destructive wont help? I know she deals with self harm, something I also struggled with and overcame and she knows this but she will never ever take advice from me in regards to taking every substance she can.

THANKYOU! hopefully you can help me , I don't want two of my closest friends holding hands as they run into dangerous and possibly deadly territorys. if they stay together they keep each other thinking its fine, and its really , really not .

Hey Eggplant,

Thanks for your question and apologies for the delayed response.  There are a couple of things in your message that concern me in regard to your friend.  Although you have mentioned the some of the behavior of Amy is to show off to Jim, you also mention she has dealt with issues relating to low self esteem, depression and self-harm.  Although these issues are not completely uncommon in adolescents/young adults, they may also be evidence of an emergency chronic mental health issue.  Heron can be extremely intoxicating to someone with these kinds of problems and whilst I always espouse harm reduction, I wouldn't wish a heroin habit on my worst enemy.  It is expensive, stigmatizing and dangerous.  You obviously know the risks, including Overdose and injecting injury, and this are potentially higher amongst someone who is experiencing distress (as they may be less likely to engage in safer drug use).  

I think that the way you speak to Amy is going to be really important.  By going in and being dogmatic, she may put up defenses, but if you approach her saying you are concerned about her mental health, this may make a difference.  I see that you are in the UK and I wonder what kinds of supports might be available to her there.  Is it possible that she links in with a psychologist?  

In direct response to your questions - numbers 1 & 2  I don't think there is any easy answer.  This kind of realization for Amy will come from support and getting through her current mental health crisis.  She will need good support, from her friends and also a professional, and this may help her work through these issues.  IN response to number 3 - I would be hesitant about engaging her parents, especially as she is an adult (is this correct?).  Parents can be a great support, but they can also react badly.  Just being a parent doesn't necessarily give you any skill in dealing with these kinds of crisis.  I certainly would not bring parents in without speaking to Amy first.  In regard to number 4- professional help is really necessary.  Self-harm can be extremely risky and a sign of a serious issue.

So in summary, I wouldn't approach this from a drug angle.  I would support your friend around her mental health, as this seems to be an issue.  

Don't hesitate to contact me again if you like.

Kind regards,


Addiction to Drugs

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I am a psychologist committed to Harm reduction, a philosophy that acknowledges people will continue to use drugs despite all of the effort put into stopping it (case in point - US government drug war ... trillions of dollars spent fighting and more people using). I advocate to support people who use drugs by reducing the harms associated with their use through needle and syringe programs (NSP), advocating for drug law reform, non-judgmental health services and reducing the stigma associated with drugs. I have worked in harm reduction in Australia (NSP, primary health care, drop in centre) for 10 years and also have 18 months managing a service providing care coordination for people with multiple and complex problems. I spent two years living and working in Cambodia as a Harm Reduction Advisor for a local Khmer NGO, primarily focusing on methamphetamine use. Now I am back in Australia and have worked in a prison providing drug treatment and currently work as a psychologist in a dual diagnosis service (for people with mental health and substance use problems). I have a Masters in Clinical Psychology so can also answer questions around mental health and drug use. Happy to answer questions about blood borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C, questions about opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, benzos and other substances. Questions about treatment (particulary methadone and buprenorphine). Questions about harm reduction and why it is the best approach. I will try to answer questions about drug tests. I DO NOT JUDGE PEOPLE NEGATIVELY DUE TO THEIR DRUG USE, AND DON'T DEMAND PEOPLE MARCH STRAIGHT OFF TO REHAB! If anyone has taken a sip of a coffee, or drunk a beer, then ... well we are all drug users, and I don't think we are going to see an end to it! Deal with the real.


Worked in the field in Australia and Cambodia for 15 years. Psychologist with Clinical Masters. Two significant research projects on drug use (one on HIV risk and its link with trauma and one on drug related stigma). Presentation at two international conferences and two Australian conferences.

Registered as a psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency.

Conference proceedings - IHRC 2004 (Chiang Mai), 2005 (Melbourne) & 2010 (Bangkok). Anex Conference 2005 (Melbourne) Stigma-Pleasure-Practice conference 2006 (Sydney).

Bachelor of Arts (Humanities), Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), Masters of Psychology (Clinical). And a multitude of training courses including advanced first aid, pre & post test counselling accreditation for HIV, significant amount of training on hepatitis C, etc.

Awards and Honors
Have presented at international conferences including the International Harm Reduction Conferences in Chiang Mai Thailand; Melbourne, Australia and Bangkok, Thailand. Also national conferences in Sydney and Melbourne Australia.

Past/Present Clients
I maintain confidentiality about my clients.

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