Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which we all band together to help someone get on top of his or her guild-related issue: While I give my two cents here in the article, plenty of useful advice and different perspectives on the matter at hand emerge in the comments section. This time, reader Michael has a rather challenging issue to deal with that hinges on his guildmates’ drug use. Michael’s guild centres around an online friendship group that began in MOBAs and has recently been adversely impacted by the behaviour of several members of the group who live close to one another. These members have, for as long as Michael has known them, taken recreational drugs while gaming, but recently Michael has noted some personality changes and volatility that is uncharacteristic of his friends. He wants to know how best to deal with the issue and bring back positive relations in his guild.
You’ll find my two cents in the comments, but this is a massive topic that needs a measured approach. The submission does not include specifics of what drugs the friends are consuming and whether or not those substances are controlled or otherwise legally restricted in their country. I am in no way qualified to give professional advice about drug consumption and all advice given is in support of seeing a medical professional who specialises in drug dependence and addiction. Add your own thoughts in the comments, of course, and see Michael’s full submission below.
This is a bit of a weird ask but I thought I’d give this a try anyway. I met some friends by chance playing MOBAs and we ended up tight and playing other games together. I made a guild in the MMO I play before I met them and those guys joined too. The problem is a group of them live together and are social drug takers. They take recreational drugs together when gaming, which I didn’t notice in our time in other games but is very noticeable now we play for such long stretches. It changes their character and they’re really obnoxious, loud types now that I don’t like. It’s a daily problem and I think they need to quit drugs because they’re clearly addicted and my guildmates hate their behaviour. I don’t want to kick them all but I just want to stop the worst of this stupidity from getting worse still.
This is quite the conundrum, Michael, and I’m going to need to make a set of assumptions to help you out here. I’m going to assume that you are close enough to these people that simply cutting your losses isn’t a viable option, and I’m also going to largely ignore the legal repercussions and moral debates surrounding drug use since they vary so widely. My honest advice is to leave the drug issues in the hands of those who know these people best since they are best equipped to help, but here’s how I would approach the matter if I had no other choices.
The first point that I wish to make clear is that, no matter how much we wish we could, we cannot control the actions of others, Michael, and this case is no exception. If your friends are ultimately happy with their drug use and aren’t specifically breaking local laws or endangering others, you’ll find that there really is very little you can do to change their activities without having them onboard. I’m assuming that they are candid about the drugs they take if you are so aware of it, so I’m of the mindset that they don’t find their drug use to be problematic and will be happy to continue on the same path. While you or I may not agree with that choice and would worry about the potential damage sustained drug use might cause to the people in question, the decision to stop taking drugs is often a deeply complex one that isn’t in our hands to make.
Having said that, we can most definitely set behavioural expectations for a collective of people and hold that group of people to those rules, so if the drug use is causing unfriendly behaviours and any unpleasantness that goes beyond general disapproval of their drug taking, it is time to point this out to your guildmates. It isn’t fair for their habits to impact on everyone else’s leisure time, so if there is fallout caused by the drugs then it’s fair to bring them up. Before you do so, however, you’ll want to get a better handle on the reality of the situation and put aside any preconceptions or opinions you have about drugs and drug users to maximise your chances of successfully managing the situation.
I am by no means educated in drug types and recreational drug use and I don’t pretend to be familiar with the properties of the unspecified recreational drugs your guildmates are taking, but what I can say is that not all substances are addictive or illegal. What you personally understand about drug law may not be the same as what applies to your friends if you are in a different country or even state if you are in the US. As such, it would be jumping the gun on my part and yours to call your friends addicts or suggest that law enforcement needs to be involved. You need to know precisely what you’re dealing with here and do what’s best for your friends as well as for your guild: There is a vast difference between a group of people smoking marijuana where it is legal to do so than taking methamphetamine illegally, for example, and the differences lie in both the addictive properties of the substances at hand and the effect each will have on the user. Perhaps your best source for the information you need is the friends within that same group who do not live close to this band: They have known your affected friends for longer and might have more details.
Once you know what substance — or substances — you’re dealing with and how regularly your friends might be taking this, you then need to arm yourself with some unbiased, fact-based information about the topic. There are some fantastic resources for this online that I’d highly recommend you scour for advice: One of my favourites is UK-based site FRANK, which aims to give honest advice for anyone affected by drug use. It features a drug A-Z that will be handy to consult if you’re a little patchy on modern drugs of choice.
Depending on what you’ve found out, you might decide that your friends are simply a little lairy and brash when high and that pointing out the negative effect their behaviour is having on the guild-at-large will be enough action to stem the behaviour. If a civil warning to calm down a little is not sufficient to curb the obnoxious antics in this instance, it might be best for both parties to part ways so your friends can find a guild that is more flexible with rowdiness and you can restore peace in your more muted flock. That’s not to say you need to part on bad terms: I would simply explain that the guild isn’t a great fit since it’s a mixed audience that isn’t on the same wavelength but that you’d love to still join them in-game as always.
Should you have cause to suspect that the problem is more serious than this, confronting your friends and talking about the behaviour and the drug use just as you would with your real-world friends could be best, especially if other people in your mutual friendship group are also worried. If you do decide to confront your friends, ensure that the conversation is judgement-free and that you get across how worried you are about them: The minute you call their drug use stupid or talk dismissively about their compulsion to take them (should that prove to be the case), you’ll have lost their attention and will never make a compelling argument for them seeking help. Do not involve the wider guild: This is a sensitive topic even if everyone knows about the drugs. Have a voice chat with the affected friends and trusted members of the wider MOBA friendship group.
I would recommend leaving the conversation in an open state where you mention that you’ve done some research into what they are using and you’re worried about possible effects and that you’re available to talk about it. Remember that there isn’t much you can do for them from a remote location if the problem is severe, and if they are battling addiction then they’re not likely to be open to your help due to shame and denial even if you are willing. Letting them reach their own conclusions after you have armed them with information and support resources is the best realistic outcome here, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that.
The first thing you need to understand to support someone through drug dependence or addiction is that there are reasons that compel them to take the drugs and that there are positive effects and feelings that stem from drug use. These positive effects will vary from drug to drug, but the important part is not to dismiss how good drugs might make your friends feel and what negative feelings they might be using drugs to diminish. Each person will have his or her own story, but your mission will remain the same: You’ll want to understand your friends’ unique compulsions in order to best frame the next step.
The process of dealing with drug dependence or addiction is a long, complex one that will need professional oversight: The role you’ll play will be helping your friends find the correct type of local and professional support they need. Serious addiction is not going to be fixed with a cut-it-out conversation, and you might find that your friends need several months of rehabilitative care. Don’t take the weight of their problem on your shoulders: This is most definitely a burden that you should encourage them to share with their closest friends and family while they seek the help they need. Ultimately, you are a removed online face, and unless you are uncommonly close, you won’t have the sort of close bond needed to act as the main support figure through this process.
Over to you!
I hope that Michael is able to unpack this complex issue with the help of some mutual friends and that things calm down in his guild soon. It’s a minefield of a topic that I’m sure some of you have much more experience in dealing with, so we’d both appreciate your comments on this issue.
If you are struggling with drug-related issues, talk to FRANK or seek local help as soon as possible. You’re not alone and addictions can be successfully managed.
Many thanks to Michael for this interesting submission. If you have a guild-related issue you’d like to have featured in a future edition of Guild Chat, message me for consideration.