A friend of mine, actually my best friend whom I've known for 5 years now is a very emotionally driven person. He is 19 years old, attends Engineering school in which he really struggles, and he even had to repeat last year.

So now to the problem: He smokes weed. Normally not a problem, especially not for me as I smoked it as well a couple of times and had a great time mostly. But my problem with his consumption is that he takes it to a completely different level as I for example ever did. He smokes every day. Every evening when he comes home from school he blasts himself away. Every weekend he goes out with a friend of ours and they blast themselves away every time. I sadly cannot be there and try to help him currently as I now live in another town 1,5 hours away. I am really concerned about him because, as stated by him, he smokes to forget.

When he is high he doesn't have to deal with his troubles, his problems and so on. So that means that his mental state contributes a great deal to that.

So to wrap this up, I am really concerned about the psychological aspect to all that.

Is there any way I can show him that I care for him and his mental health and well-being and would like him to stop smoking pot and rather focus on important things that really make someone happy, like quality time with friends or finding some meaningful hobby? I'm no psychologist of course and maybe some advice from someone having knowledge in this part may be of tremendous help!

I never told him "STOP SMOKING POT!!" as I know that won't help. I was sometimes a bit suggestive to steer him more to healthier things, but I know that brute force wouldn't change a thing.

  • Ah, that edit helped :) I didn't get the impression he liked things like bouldering from the original. But you hopefully do realize how weak his argument for not getting professional help is? he cant afford the time it takes for therapy (and is actually wasting hours on hours gaming and smoking pot daily). So that isn't an option. You indeed never stated 'he was BADLY depressed' --> I'm just used to taking every depression as very serious, and if he's resorted to drugs because of it (as you seem to suggest), it sounds like it's bad... 1/2 – Tinkeringbell Nov 2 '17 at 9:11
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    I don't think the professional help close votes are needed here. Sure, professional help is useful, but it definitely isn't the only thing that might help the OP's friend. There are ways to help depressed people in other ways than sending them to a shrink. – JAD Nov 2 '17 at 9:13
  • If things don't improve, don't give up on trying to get him to use professional help... I'm having a hard time believing you can help him by this, but okay :) I've retracted the close-vote, let's see where this goes – Tinkeringbell Nov 2 '17 at 9:25
  • I think you mean depressed. – paparazzo Nov 2 '17 at 9:53
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    @CoffeineConverter depressed actually means that you have the illness, something depressive, like depressive thoughts, are something that would make you depressed. The distinction between bad mood and actual mental issues is not made here, and the two interpretations are used at will. – JAD Nov 2 '17 at 10:09

Depression isn't simply solved by saying "just go do something that makes you happy". When you're depressed, if you are truly feeling miserable, it is very hard to push yourself to do something, anything. Finding a meaningful hobby is very much harder than you think if there seems to be so little that brings you joy.

Can you see the downwards spiral here?

  1. Feel miserable

  2. This makes it hard to find joy in doing things

  3. This makes it hard to move yourself to do those things, to do anything

  4. Do nothing instead, which is something you feel guilty about, making you even more miserable.

  5. Repeat

It is really really really hard to break this spiral. Especially when looking at it from the outside, because it seems so simple, just go do something, right?

Instead, this spiral makes it easy to slip into a habit that makes you feel slightly better, even if only for a while. This can easily lead to an addictive habit like gaming and/or substance abuse.

So how could you help?

This is really hard. I don't have the answer. Honestly, if the answer existed, depression wouldn't be that big of a problem. Instead, it is important to get help from someone who is trained to deal with these situations.

This only really works if your friend cooperates, so they have to see the need (and commit the time) for therapy, else it is just a waste of time and money. This means you need to convince your friend that:

  1. They have a problem. This is hard enough on its own. The important part when trying to convince them of this is to be careful that you are not blaming them. They can't help their depression, they are a victim.

  2. That this problem is substantially big, that they can't solve it on their own, that you can't solve it for them either, that there is help available, and most important of all that it is not a bad thing to ask for help!

And honestly, if he thinks he doesn't have time for it during his studies, if there is no immediate risk (selfharm for example), it is not that bad to wait a while.

So is there nothing that you can do?

Why don't you invite him along on your activities every now and then. While it might be hard for him to get moving on his own, he might get some motivation or help from just doing things together.

But be sure to take the initiative, don't sit back thinking "if he wants my help, he can ask for it". This is one of the big reasons so many people are depressed without telling anyone about it. "If I feel terrible about myself, I sure as hell shouldn't bother others with my problems."

In your question you edited:

AS tinkingerbell said it seems like i want to force a lifestyle on him he does not want. THe problem is that he DOES ENJOY stuff like this, again the example of going bouldering with me. We did that a couple of times, and had a blast. It was really fun for both of us. THe problem is he has no self drive and would never go alone with his initiative, only if someone drags him to do stuff. Then he really anjoys it again. I actually was the same at his age. At that time it was my brother that dragged me everytime because i always enjoyed it. Now i have drive on my own. He sadly just doesnt have that.

This is good, he enjoys something, but clearly he lacks the motivation to do it himself. This is something I recognize from myself. For a while I just went jogging a few times a week, to wake up before my driving lessons. But once those were finished, the big stick that kept me jogging disappeared, and it again becomes more and more easy to fall back to those old habits of gaming etc.

The place where you could break the cycle in the top of the answer would be point 3. They have trouble moving themselves to do things, so they need you to drag them there (not literally). Be that stick, give them those few hours that he enjoys, and make sure he keeps doing it. Don't rely on him to take the initiative, but be proactive in your help.

  • I see that the most i can do is to take him with me to do fun stuff. But it is really hard because i can max spend time with him on the weekend as i work everyday and we live now so far apart. And i really cant devote every weekend to that because as i now live in a big town (Graz) there are so many people that want to do stuff on weekends and I am pretty busy. I believe that i may help him if he came to town as well after he finishes school? So that i could introduce him to a big bunch of people that could distract him. I simply sadly cant devote such a large deal of time now :( – MansNotHot Nov 2 '17 at 12:02
  • And our other friends we have in common only encourage his negative behaviour. I actually am 2 years older than him and am living on my own for the last 1,5 years now and i feel that i have matured to a point where this negative addictions and behaviours seem immature to me and feel like i loose touch a bit. And i would love him to be able to see it through the eyes of someone more mature to see that this kind of stuff is actually hurting him in the long run – MansNotHot Nov 2 '17 at 12:05

You are on the right track. Telling someone to stop a behaviour they know is not ideal and typically causes them to be defensive and on the opposite side from the person who was trying to help. This can mean pushing you (the supportive friend) away and that is bad for everyone. Instead, looking at alternative things to help as you have already started thinking of is the best way to actively help your friend.

This does a few things, most of which you have already mentioned. It occupies his mind which he is currently depending on weed to do, this would reduce his need reliance on the drug. It encourages being more social (other than getting together to smoke) interacting socially can help a lot with depression. It encourages him to be active which produces endorphines that make you feel good, and it physically takes up his time which is a very efficient yet subtle way to cut into the time spent alone, feeling depressed where he then turns to weed.

Next is to just decide what you think would be best suited for him to take part in and how to actually get him to participate. This is trickier, will probably require some effort on your part and depends a lot more on what he likes and such. Keep in mind its best if you do this activity with him, participating with a group helps give more of a push to get out of the house on the days you are not feeling like it, and this way you can continue helping in other ways too. You mentioned you are now 1.5 hours away, so if you absolutely can not do it with him then clue-ing in some other friends is the next best thing.

Here are a few ideas, dont take any of them too seriously please, remember it is up to you. Hiking - can take multiple days if you are enthusiastic and can be a good excuse to travel the distance. Mountain Biking - similar to hiking Table Tennis tournaments - There are plenty of beginner ones of these and its a sport with not much required strength but tons of growth room. LARPing - if you dont know what it is already then maybe not Going to semi-local bands/convensions/events - less frequent but less likely to be rejected

It may be quite a challenge to convince him but since you are so far away I would say there is not too much else you could do that would help in a significant way

  • 1,5 hours not 5 and i edited a bit you might want to reread that :) – MansNotHot Nov 2 '17 at 9:01
  • @CoffeineConverter I thought it was obvious you had not said for him to stop smoking pot. It is how he deals with the depression and I was agreeing with your approach to helping him participate in activities to help his mental health – Jesse Nov 2 '17 at 9:51
  • But smoking all the time to deal with it Is not ideal. The goal of my response is to help your friend reach a mental state where he does not rely on it – Jesse Nov 2 '17 at 9:53
  • I was merely reiterating what it seemed you were already doing for The benefit of those reading the post – Jesse Nov 2 '17 at 9:57

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