Q. A close friend of mine has bipolar disorder. I am naturally concerned. He has started taking marijuana, as he claims it helps him. He currently is in a euphoric state, and is restless, hyper active. He parties 3-4 days a week from 7 in the night till 3-4 in the morning. He has been prescribed lithium by his doctor. My questions are two fold. a) Will marijuana affect his state and would be harmful in the long run b) Secondly, what's the best way of dealing with these people?

I myself am a firm believer that marijuana and other drugs wont help him, it might give him temporary relief. I also believe that sometimes we use these illness as an excuse to do certain things and indulge in self pity.

Please respond and help me to understand my friend so I am able to deal with him more professionally.

  A. It is almost impossible to make a bipolar diagnosis in a substance abuser, so until he is clean, a diagnosis of bipolar is somewhat suspect. That said, he probably does have some type of a bipolar disorder.

Marijuana is bad for any psychiatric disorder, or at least not helpful. People do not think as well on it nor remember things very well. It is not good for him to use in his current condition.

Best way of dealing with folks is to tell them how you feel. You do not support the use of drugs, hope that he gets well, and want him to be well. If you did not care, you would not have written me or brought it up with him. There is nothing bad that will happen if you just tell him how you feel about drugs, and let him know you are saying these things because you care, not as a means of hurting him.