About a week ago, I was contacted by a college friend, named Becky. She was expressing concern for a mutual friend, Chris, who she and some others suspect has a drug problem. She reached out to me on the basis of my experience working in the substance abuse field.
She told me the stories and described the shifts in his behavior. Based on what I heard, it seemed reasonable to think there was merit to her suspicions. So I decided to have a closer look.
I asked Chris to coffee. He blew me off three times. I wasn't surprised.
I then reached out to a few friends of his. They agreed that he has been acting strange lately and suspect some form of drug abuse.
Ok, now what? I really don't know his level of problem, nor am I close enough to him to definitively say whether or not he has a problem. I don't feel I have a right to call his parents and I don't really know who should confront him on this recent change in behavior.
Not long after, I had another conversation with Becky, the friend who originally expressed concern. She asked me to look into an intervention and since I know plenty of folks who work in this field, I said I would.
I spoke to a reputable interventionist who described the process and it is exactly what he and his family and friends need. Then the interventionist described the checklist for the intervention (you can view it here). And then the price. That was the moment, We had to ask ourselves, "now what?
None of us involved in the discussion is blood-related to Chris. In fact, most of us have drifted apart since college. It wouldn't be my place nor Becky's, to organize such an undertaking. The friends who are close, don't seem as concerned, or perhaps lack understanding of the serious nature of addiction.
The interventionist described things such as having an admission date, travel fees, writing letters, and of course the overall cost of the intervention and rehab. That's not exactly how it usually goes on television, where a group of friends arrange a circle of chairs, guy walks in and they express their feelings. He listens and agrees to stop abusing alcohol and they live happily ever after.
Nope. The real process is well-orchestrated, intensive and reliant on several factors. One of those factors involves a price tag ranging from $4,000 - $10,000, plus travel expenses. That's not even including the scheduled admission date into inpatient rehab, which can cost as little as $18,000 for the recommended length of stay, and up to $70,000 at 'luxury' facilities.
So again I ask, we know it's a problem, now what?
My only conclusive advice to Becky, is to reach out to his parents. It's difficult, but a good start. We're lucky Chris has caring parents, who if informed about this issue, will do everything they can to get their son the help he needs. It's a complex disease and even more complicated to self-recognize symptoms. For others who do not have family support, it can be an endless cycle of denial.
If you see a friend or family member losing control of alcohol consumption or drug abuse, don't be shy. Talk to a family member, or call for help. Take the first step for the ones you love.