My friend was in a coma for 2 months. From someone giving her a overdose of GHB. When she came to she was like a new born baby. She had to be taught to walk, use the bathroom & talk again. A guy that clung to her during her recovery was soon to be her boyfriend for 3 years. She has regained her faculties but he has continued to abuse her mentally & physically. He finally has left to another state . But know that I have spent time with her she admits to me that she sees people that are dead and other dark objects. She is on antidepressants & uses opiates. Please help me so I can try & help her. I fear for her life . Thank you James
You sound like a true friend and I'm happy to suggest some things you could do to help your friend.
First of all, she could be using the opiates to self-medicate her schizophrenia symptoms. This is called MICA: Mental Illness/Chemical Abuse and is best treated by a two-pronged approach: treating the drug addiction at the same time the mental illness is treated.
Yes, I do believe schizophrenia can be triggered by stress or by abuse and also, it can be caused by drug use in a significant number of cases where people are heavy drug users. Statistics bear this out.
If your friend trusts you, I suggest you offer to take her to a professional who is in the position to diagnosis or rule out the schizophrenia. She may not quit the opiates right away, and that is the nature of drug abuse: more than one relapse is possible before she gets clean. So she needs to get medication for her schizophrenia even if she is still using drugs. Continuing to use drugs will hamper if not outright prevent her recovery from the mental illness.
Again, you sound like a great guy and you have compassion and wouldn't judge her for the choices she made (to use drugs) and you are also concerned because she was abused. Stand by her side. Develop a relationship of trust. The Xavier Amador book I refer to often for friends and loved ones of people who resist treatment is called I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help. He encourages the friend or family member to use a technique called motivational interviewing, whereby they develop a relationship of trust with the person with schizophrenia, and gently inquire about their life goals, because everyone has a goal he or she wants to achieve. Once the trust is built, you ask if you could suggest something that might help her obtain the goal, and your recommendation would then be medication for her schizophrenia and that she stay in treatment. The technique of motivational interviewing was indeed originally used with people recovering from substance abuse.
James, I personally know people who recovered from heroin abuse, and this is entirely possible too, as well as recovery from schizophrenia.
So lastly I want to say thank you for being such a good friend and staying with her through thick and thin. Your ongoing friendship could be the thing that turns her around. Too many people abandon friends who develop schizophrenia.
Your friend is very lucky to have you to confide her dark thoughts to, and if course you are rightly scared for her. There will be lots of distortions, memory gaps and things to make sense of. Agree with Christina concerning professional help. Often active, reflective listening can in itself also be very helpful and supportive, especially alongside careful adjusted medication.Trusted professional input, if available, may help as well and share out your considerable burden in this area. In any case you must be sure to keep yourself strong, refreshed and healthy, so that you can continue to support your friend and not 'burn out' in this difficult process, nor sucked in to the dark world she walks in just now.
Believe the therapy I mentioned could be particularly important because of the long term abuse your friend has suffered.. there will likely be issues of poor self esteem and misplaced guilt and shame.Lots of things to work through.
Good luck and keep posting if it helps!
retired doc UK
has family member with untreated paranoid sz