Teen Health & Wellness
 

When a Friend Has a Drug or Alcohol Problem — Michael’s Story

When I was about ten years old, I was like everyone else. I had my own little group of friends. We all would hang out together and have fun. But I never really had that one best friend, the one that you could hang out with forever, and never get sick of them. That all changed when I met Cameron. From the very beginning, we clicked like best friends do. We liked all the same games, had the same humor, and we became inseparable. We were best friends for about a year, when things started to get really bad for him. His parents got divorced, eventually got back together, then divorced again. His mother got heavily involved in drugs and alcohol, and fell into such a deep depression that it was rare for her to even get out of bed.

At this point, I knew that he was going to need his friends more than ever. His mom would tell him that he needed to just go find a place to stay. There would be lapses of weeks where he would stay at our house. We became family. I considered him my little brother, because we had been through so much together. My parents weren’t too supportive of this, mostly they were mad at his mother for forcing them to pretty much take in another child to support. They let him stay, because he literally had no other place to go. And they couldn’t let him live on the streets.

We were best friend for five years. But slowly as we hit high school, we began to go our separate ways. The time between hanging out would grow from weeks, to months, to eventually the point where I didn’t see him for a whole year. Then out of the blue he showed up, looking and acting completely different. I asked him how he was, and if he wanted to go find something to do. He said he couldn’t, because he was living with his dad now, and he was grounded. I of course asked him why. And he nonchalantly told me that his dad found drugs in his room.

I was shocked to learn this, but that was not even him hitting the bottom. A few weeks later, we found out that he had broken into our house, and taken our computers and Xbox. He got away and left to some town that I had never even heard of before. The items were easily replaced, but all of this hit me like a bomb.

I couldn’t figure out how my best friend, the person I looked at as my little brother, could do something like this to me. How could he completely turn on me like this? How could he hurt the family that picked him up when he was completely knocked down? I then started to feel guilty, as if he did this because I turned my back on him. I ditched him for the friends at my school, and I wasn’t there to watch over him, and make sure he stayed on a straight path. Was it my fault that he became a druggy and a thief?

I eventually came to the revelation that it was not my fault. It was not my job to watch him, and make sure that he would stay out of trouble all the time. I was not his mother. Although I still feel bad that things could not have turned out differently, I know that I have to go my own way and live my own life, and make my own friends.

—Michael

Share your own story here. Sharing stories is a powerful way to connect with other people. Be part of the Teen Health & Wellness Personal Story Project—like Michael did above—and share your story about successfully dealing with or overcoming a challenge.