Mar 2, 2011

Rhymes with "Funky Drummer"

Dear Ask A Punk: our drummer is totally rad. can pelt out awesome beats and solos and may be more of an icon than our guitarist. But we all promised no matter what, under all circumstances, for any and every reason we'd stay clean (not like straightedge- no sex no drink but we'd stay off drugs). So our drummer is one of the worst drug addicts i've ever seen and i've had personal experience with the homeless will do anything to get a hit group. What gets me is that she's violent really violent and she drops off the face of the earth, literally. like just last week her mom called me and asked if i'd drive her to the hospital because our drummer was in the hospital. We've tried talking to her and sending her to rehab but so far nothings held up. I could stand to lose her as a drummer but as a friend i couldn't bear it. Any ideas? -JSinner

I have a bunch of ideas actually.
The first is to tell you that you don't have to worry about losing her as a friend... because you already have. From what you've described to me, it sounds like her best friend now is 'drugs' and, assuming she follows the standard trajectory (and believe me: she will) at some point soon drugs will be the only friend she has room for in her fast-crumbling life. All of those homeless-will-do-anything-for-a-fix "types" you mentioned didn't start out that way... They started out as people more-or-less just like your friend. They had other plans for their lives but due to what? genetics? trauma? funky brain chemistry? or some combination of all those factors (and others) once they decided to let drugs deal with their various inner pains, their lives went off the rails. As I've said before: Once they made that one choice, all the rest of their choices were/are made by the drugs.

I appreciate the loyalty and faith you have in your friend. No one is ever completely beyond hope for some form of redemption but, I have to warn you that your faith and your friendship are NO match for an addiction running at full gallop. I'm trying to save you possibly the next 7+ years of your life here... When addiction takes hold so firmly in someone so young, the problem is they have a lot of energy and youth to fall back on, so the trip to their true and final bottoming out can take a long long time... Are you willing to sacrifice your youth, your life and your band for all that? I telling you to abandon your friend? No. I'm telling you to watch a few episodes of Intervention and figure out that 99% of the "help" that well-meaning friends and relatives offer to the addicts in their lives does nothing but keep the addiction going. Offer your friend every kind of help/support to get well... but realize, heck, expect, her to not want your help and to probably curse your name. This is the addiction speaking through your friend... and as long as IT is talking louder than her, then she isn't ready for help.... and if she isn't ready, realllly ready, then rehab etc won't help her a bit.

She has to see consequences. What I'm saying is - no matter how good a drummer she might be, you probably have to throw her out of the band... and be prepared if even that might not be enough to get her attention. The truth is - if she's already deep in the swamp of addiction her drumming certainly isn't going to improve... and chances are she'll start selling off pieces of her drum kit for drug money soon anyway... Believe me, I know how tough it is to find a good drummer... but do you really want your entire band to be a bunch of planets orbiting a junkie sun? You (as a band) will spend so much time and energy dealing with your F-ed up drummer that it'll cut into everything else: rehearsal, songwriting, playing gigs... You'll lose time and opportunities that you can't even imagine right now... as any self-respecting, self-absorbed junkie would make sure of it. They're such experts at self-sabotage they don't even notice the collateral damage (you, your band, your friendship) they cause on the way to their final tragic flameout. Is that really a ride you want to take?

I'm not sure how much else you can really do. You and your friend are both still minors [I edited some details out of the 'question' due to what I thought might be privacy issues.] so the ball is really in her parents' court... You said the mom called you for a ride to the hospital, so obviously you have a decent relationship with them... Talk to them about what they're seeing in your friend vs. what you're seeing. DO they have a plan of action for her? ...I know I'm making some assumptions, maybe her homelife is her biggest problem... but try not to automatically stand behind the generational banners on this one... Look at things as coolly as you can: What is her homelife like? Can you approach her parents with this stuff. Can you talk to your parents about this? I know you want to protect your friend and you're probably worried that your folks' automatic answer would be to cut you off from her... but remember, I suggested the same thing.

The sad truth is, your friend might pull out of this nosedive and she might not. The fact that there is really nothing you can do about it is the hard truth. Al-anon meetings might be a source of some information & strength for you... but othewise the number one rule of dealing with addicts in your life should be: Protect Yourself ...and by that I mean everything from protecting your money, person & property to protecting your time and your peace-of-mind.

Sorry if this sounded harsh, that wasn't my intention. I just had a vision of what the next decade of your life is going to look like if you think you can somehow have more influence over your friend and her choices than her drugs do... It isn't a pretty picture. Save yourself the heartache.