DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have a friend, "Will," who is 25. We've known him several years, and he has always been a very down-to-earth, pleasant, easygoing person. However, it has become apparent that Will is bipolar and is currently in the middle of an extreme manic episode that has lasted for about a month. He agreed to go to a doctor for evaluation, and was immediately put on lithium, which he is not taking regularly, if at all. He has refused further treatment.
While Will is not violent, he has had at least one car accident that probably gave him a concussion, and he has wandered aimlessly in the desert and city for days, barefoot in hot temperatures, which resulted in dehydration. Now he is getting worse. He thinks he is superhuman, and he's hearing voices.
We feel he needs 24-hour companionship and support. Whenever he is left alone, Will runs away and disappears -- although he eventually calls to be picked up. He has disappeared for up to a week at a time and has run away three times now. He has no sense of reality at this point. He thinks he has transcended to a new level of understanding and doesn't want to lose his new "insight." He also has personal issues with his parents, so he doesn't want to stay with them.
We are no longer able to take Will into our home because the last time we did it ended badly, and it's obvious he needs professional help that we are unable to provide. We're afraid if he doesn't get treatment, he will hurt himself. How can we help him? -- JENNY IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
DEAR JENNY: I took your question to Paul Fink, M.D., a past president of the American Psychiatric Association. After I read him your e-mail, he agreed that your friend is out of control, and your concerns are valid.
Will should be taken to an emergency room. You should inform them that he is suicidal and describe his car accident and days spent wandering in the desert. In order to save his life, he needs to be admitted to a 24-hour facility and medicated until he is calm and rational enough for release.