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Hey, Daddy! My Friend is On Meth

Unfortunately, a gay man on meth is not the most uncommon circumstance, but before a group of friends dives into full-on intervention mode, consider these questions and ways to go about really helping.

Hey, Daddy!
I think my friend might be abusing drugs. Before I even get started, I’m going to come right out and say that I dabble recreationally with some other gay men, usually when I hit the clubs, so I’m not judging the party per se.

At first, I just thought he was being weird or going through something that made him act differently. Several months ago, he started going manic on occasion, accusing good friends of talking behind his back. Not everybody is affected the same way by the same drugs, so I chalked it up to a little too much snuff in the snort.

Lately, he upped the ante on my suspicions, and others in our friend group are noticing it too. He’s losing weight, and not in a good way. His eyes are sunken in and dark, and his accusations have blown up into full-on thinking everyone is out to get him. He grinds his teeth. Even when I don’t suspect he’s on it right this moment, I do know all of these can be signs of prolonged meth use.

This is the first guy I met when I moved here, and I care about him, but I also know I don’t have much room to talk when it comes to indulging in party favors. Should I confront him?
Wouldn’t Ordinarily Really Intervene, Except Doubtful

Dear WORRIED:
Your concern is probably more common than many gay guys like to talk about. Whether we ourselves choose to indulge in chemical escapism and risk the consequences, it doesn’t mean you can’t see the signs when some guys go further and lose themselves.

First and foremost, be careful. What if your friend’s health is at risk from an undiagnosed virus? What if he, as you hint, might be going through something that is stressing him out so much he’s letting his self-care and appearance go? As a friend, you can’t confront him about drugs if you don’t know it for a fact, because you can cause damage with the assumption before you have a chance to help.

I do think you should approach your friend, and I do think it may take more than one conversation. Ask him if there’s anything he wants to talk about. Leave it to your own observations, and leave your other friends out of it. If he thinks people are talking behind his back, you’d only be feeding his paranoia.

Tell him you sense a possible problem and are concerned because he seems different. If he still avoids it, tell him you’re there for him if he changes his mind or anything comes up. This opens the door for him to come to you, and for you to circle back and broach it again a little later.

If he’s not ready to confide in you, that doesn’t mean your friendship has to be over. The line between being supportive and pushy is fine and hard to navigate. Use your best instincts.

Of course you’re right about one thing: The symptoms you name could definitely be signs of drug abuse. Gay men and meth are a well-documented duo. If your friend confides that this is his situation, or if you find direct evidence of such, encourage professional help. You can support him, but you can’t fix him.

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