Is it okay if I take my friend's pills away?

My friend is abusing her prescription medicine. Even though she told me she didn't have any more pills, I found she has prescriptions for anxiety medications.

Aleisha Stewart
Aleisha Stewart
School Counsellor specializing in trauma and dissociation

First of all, where did you find the pills? Did you have to go into her private space or things to find them? If so, you might want to do some research on codependency. I recommend the book "The Everything Guide to Codependency." You can find it here: https://www.amazon.ca/The-Everything-Guide-Codependency-codependent/dp/1440573905 . It's not honest to go searching through someone's things. You dislike the deceit in her, so why model it in yourself?

If the pills were just left out, that's a different story. Again though, model honesty. Talk to about what you found. Avoid being accusitory. A good old "I found these...what's going on with this?" might be a good place to start. Tell her how it makes you feel. Have you ever heard of "I statements?" Google this....you will find a lot of good templates on how to frame this conversation. 

At the end of the day though, these are her choices. Not yours. All you can do is tell her how you feel, make a few gentle suggestions, and get back to taking care of you. If it gets to the point where seeing her downward spiral is too much for you, let her know this and tell her you can no longer be involved, for the sake of your own health and sanity. 

There is nothing wrong with trying to help, but ask yourself, are you really being helpful? If you are starting to feel resentful, know that you have crossed the line into codependency and back away.

Hope this helps and all the best,


Aleisha

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

Your friend needs to admit they have a problem.  If not no matter how many pills you take they will find a way to get more.  It is also a federal offense to take someone else's medication so if you did take it she could have you arrested.  In other instances it can be more dangerous to take medication away than slowly tapering off of them.  Like anything we put into our system our tolerance builds up and can effect us in different ways.  I would listen to her and discuss why she feels that she needs to be on the medications rather than playing bad cop in this situation.  Encourage her to get help and let her know you re there for her. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Your good intentions to help your friend stay clean, are very caring about her.

Unless your friend feels like stopping pills,  taking them away will mean she finds them some place else.

The problem that anyone who is addicted to pills has, is that the person is psychologically and at least with xanax, physically addicted.

Taking pills has basically become a standard part of your friend's life.

Her problem is bigger than your ability to care.

If you haven't already done so, tell your friend directly about your opinion on the way she is using pills.

This is not a guarantee that she'll stop.

It isa way of you showing that you care about her.

Offering love and advice are the only things you can do for her.

Meanwhile, knowing she is hurting herself is probably hurting you.

Be sure to keep a sense of balance within yourself.  Offer your concern and know she is the one who must decide to stop using.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Robin Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC
Robin Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC
Mental Health in a Primary Care Setting

Hello! Thank you for your question. I have a worked with many people who have become addicted to benzodiazepines, like Clonazepam. It is a difficult road for people who are trying to become clean. It is also a very difficult road for those who love the person and are trying to be supportive. During those times, it is important to remember to take care of yourself, too.

As for taking your friend's pills, my concern would be the legal ramifications that you could face should you ever be caught with someone else's prescription medication, and especially these types of medications. Our laws have become much more strict surrounding prescription drug sales and possession due to the increase in prescription drug abuse. In addition, people who are in active addiction are likely to find some other means to get their drug, so it would do little to help the overall problem.

I don't know about your friend's family situation, but they may be a better route to take if you are concerned about your friend. They may already be involved, but with your help you may be able to convince your friend to go to treatment willingly. That is usually better.

In many states, there are also involuntary committal processes where a person's family may be able to convince a court to force the person into treatment. This varies from state to state. If your friend's family is not aware of this option, it may be something to look into. It usually does take a relative, or a medical provider, to begin this process if it is available.

I hope this was helpful, and I wish you and your friend well.

Robin J. Landwehr, DBH, LPC, NCC

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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