How Do I Help A Friend In A Hospital For Drug Treatment And A Suicide Attempt?
My very best friend has a drug problem. Recently though, she tried to kill herself by overdosing on tylenol and aspirin. She is now in a rehabilitation center. I was wondering what I should do to help her when she gets out, especially since she can't have any visitors, including parents and it is now the holiday season. I would greatly appreciate your help by giving me a few answers on this subject.
Thank You Much,
I appreciate your concerns. There are a lot of questions about your friend's life, and your and other people's relationships with her, which do have to be dealt with. Your communications with your friend should be frank, caring, and open-ended.
Obviously, it is a little difficult for me to talk about someone's suicide attempt who I don't know. On the other hand, if she is in a treatment center, they have some obligations to you, your friend, and her parents. I frankly don't understand why she isn't allowed to have visitors during the holiday season. Perhaps this is based on some clinical decision, I don't know. Perhaps it is based on some kooky idea that people are better at eliminating problems if they are isolated from others.
It is true that people have their problems reinstated when they return to old patterns with family and friends. It is true that these patterns have to be modified if people are to return to familiar social settings without having the same results as those which drove them to the hospital. But your friend is already in a therapeutic program—they must address these things. I suggest that you and you friend's parents ask to speak with the staff about how you can interact in a constructive way with your friend. If the program doesn't initiate such a program, then you should ask about—insist on really—participating in some therapeutic program that concerns your relationships with your friend.
If the philosophy of the program is that your friend has an inbred disease, and cannot cope with such questions, then she is being short-changed. Do take a look at my answers to Questions About Family Members at my 'Ask Stanton' section.
Translating your love and concern into action is exactly the right way to go.
Last Updated: 25 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD