For many guys, PnP is an outlet for pleasure, connection, and intimacy. However, societal attitudes toward PnP often overlook the positives and overemphasize the negatives that come with partying. The truth is, society tends to label people who use drugs as bad, rather than acknowledging that for some of us, using drugs can serve a purpose in our lives, and that for many communities, drug use has played a historical role in building community and connection. If a friend or loved one comes to you for support related to their partying, it’s important to recognize how these attitudes toward drug use might influence your own reaction. Below are three tips to guide you in pushing beyond PnP-related stigma and meaningfully supporting a friend or loved one who PnPs.
1. Some Background Research
A good starting point is to do some of your own research so that you’re approaching the conversation with the right knowledge and language to create a safe space. Checking out the ‘What is “Party and Play”?’ and ‘Intro to PnP Drugs’ videos can be a good place to gather some background knowledge on PnP and the drugs typically involved. Also, checking out some of the ‘Desire to Connect’ videos can be useful for better understanding the positives of PnP and the benefits PnP brings to the lives of guys in the community.
2. Be Non-Judgemental
After you’ve done your research, you’ll be more equipped with the right knowledge and language to bring to the table. Now it’s time to focus on your attitudes and perceptions. Remember, it’s easy for societal attitudes toward drug use to influence our own perceptions toward people who use drugs. Guys who PnP are aware of these attitudes, which can make opening up to others about their partying a stressful experience. If a friend or loved one comes to you about their PnP, it’s important to let them know that you’re there for them, non-judgementally, no ifs ands or buts.
3. Validate, Validate, Validate
On top of being non-judgemental, it’s important to come from a real place of care, hearing your friend or loved one out, and affirming what they’re saying. Ask questions, and repeat what you’re hearing to let your friend or loved one know that you’re truly listening and hearing them out. Validate their experiences with compassion, letting your friend or loved one know that you understand that partying is normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. All in all, when we come across as warm and supportive, we let our friends and loved ones who PnP know that we’re a safe person to come to when they need support, leaving the door open for future conversations about PnP.
Check out some examples of responses you can offer to your friend or loved one when they come to you about their partying:
S: “Hey babe – you’re someone I care about, and in the spirit of transparency, I want you to know that using drugs is a part of my life.”
R: “It means a lot that you felt comfortable to share that with me. I value our relationship a ton, and I would never judge you for using drugs. Just letting you know that I’m always someone you can come to if you every need someone to chat with about your partying – you mean no less to me because you use drugs.”
S: “I’m worried that I’m partying too often, and it’s getting difficult to set limits on how much I’m taking when I party…”
R: “I hear you babe, and I understand completely. Keep in mind that making adjustments is a normal part of life. If you feel like you want to party less, or set more boundaries on how much you’re using, let me know and I can be there to support you 100%. You can count on me.”
S: “I want to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind. I tried crystal at a party last weekend and I really liked it. Would you judge me if I brought some to the party this weekend?”
R: “Oh sweet! How did you like it? You know I’m here for you no matter what. If you know what you’re doing and you feel like it’d make your night better, go for it! Just let me know how I can support you throughout the night if you need it. See you at 11 girl 😊.”
All in all, meet your friend or loved one where they’re at, and let them know that you represent a safe space, where they can be open and honest without the fear of judgement.
Check out this video where Dr. Tim Guimond, Gavin Bejaimal & Nick Boyce offer some suggestions about meeting your friends and family where they’re at when supporting them with their partying.