This short video was made during the April 2020 lockdown for Covid-19.
When people seem a little off, it’s often their friends and whānau who are the first to notice, because they know them so well. If you’ve noticed a change in your friend’s behaviour and think it could be because of their substance use, it’s ok to bring it up with them.
“It is absolutely your job as a friend or member of the family to start a conversation with someone if you’re worried about them,” says Anna, a social worker. “You gotta remember you can't fake whanaungatanga, you have a relationship,” adds Hera, Kaitiaki Matauranga Māori for Te Rau Ora. Sparking a conversation about someone’s substance abuse shows you care about that person.
Plan what you will say and pick the right time to bring it up. Create a safe space where both parties feel relaxed and connected. “Don't do it off the cuff, be prepared with the message you’re wanting to get across,” Hera says.
When you are thinking about how to broach the conversation, consider these four things: thoughts, facts, feelings and needs. Prepare for the possibility they may not want to hear it the first time – it will be a journey.
Our loved ones will want to feel heard and not told, so create a place of listening, korero and aroha, Hera says. “Being able to have an open and honest korero about what's going on is what’s gold.”
Remember, it’s ok to bring drug and alcohol use up with our friends or family. “What I found is when we bring it up with our mates it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” says Andre, a clinical psychologist. “It gets into a place where we can actually talk about it.”
It’s great that you are supporting someone to reduce the impact of alcohol and other drugs.
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This experience was shared by a young, queer Māori man as part of Rewired - a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine, run by the NZ Aids Foundation and NZ Drug Foundation.