All methed up: Is my friend back on drugs, or like, annoyingly perky?

Friends hid a meth addiction before they were found out. They're supposedly in recovery, but they're still all over the place. How can you be sure?

Q:

A friend hid a meth addiction from our circle for about four months before things bubbled to the surface and everything was discovered.

He came clean and got clean, but now I'm worried that I might be confusing his personality with a relapse. He's naturally bubbly, highly unfocused and sort of a paranoid conspiracy theorist. His most recent aesthetic is somewhere between shabby chic and Zoolander dereliqte.

How do we ask him gently if he's using, or how do we trust him again and let it go?

Dear Bubbly:

Your concern is probably more common than many of us like to talk about. Queers and meth are a well-documented duo, and relapses are often part of the journey.

Be careful, though. As you hint, people in recovery may experience mood swings that take on the appearance of mania or depression, or both. Any number of other challenges might stress him out so much that he lets his self-care and appearance go for a time.

As a helper, don't take on more than you're qualified to address. As a friend, confronting him without hard facts could cause damage before you have a chance to help. Ask if there’s anything he wants to talk about. Mention your observations and assure his confidence is safe with you. If he thinks people are talking behind his back, you’ll only feed his paranoia.

Tell him you are concerned. If he avoids it, tell him you’re there for him if he changes his mind, and drop it. This opens the door for him to come to you, and for you to circle back and broach it again 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 a fine one, and it’s hard to navigate. Use your best instincts.

The symptoms you name could be signs of relapse, so you have to be ready for that to be the issue. If your friend confides that this is his situation, or if you find direct evidence, encourage professional help. You can support him, but you’re not qualified to fix him.

Q:

My best friend hasn't been himself, and there may be an ongoing drug issue. He's been falling off the face of the planet for days at the time, even worrying his extremely supportive and loving longtime boss.

A week ago, the boss confronted my friend, and he confessed to her that there was a problem but that he had begun the recovery process.

Now he's disappeared again. I want to reach out to his boss to find out if she knows anything. How can I show her, and my friend, that I care without overstepping?

Dear Bestie:

The desire to compare notes makes a lot of sense, especially since your friend’s recovery is known and new, and because he is missing. Tell the boss what you wrote here: You can’t find your friend and just want to know if he’s OK. It’s reasonable to assume she may have the same concerns and want the same assurances.

Once your friend’s safety is secured, see Bubbly’s letter above. Yours is a supporting role, not a star player in the recovery.

Illustration by Brad Gibson

The Q is intended for entertainment, not professional help. Send your burning Qs to [email protected].

This column originally appeared in Q magazine. Find past editions of The Q advice column here, and read the full issue online here:

Pick up each new edition of Q magazine at LGBTQ and queer-friendly venues around Atlanta.