Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: How Can I Help My Friend?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Lots of teens have questions about drugs. Each year, NIDA scientists spend a whole day chatting online with high school students and answering their questions.

At the last “Drug Facts Chat Day,” a teen from Lima Central Catholic High School in Lima, Ohio asked:

"What should I do if one of my friends is using drugs...What should I tell him to convince him to stop?"

There are many ways to help and support your friend, but in the end, it will need to be your friend’s decision. And just by asking us this question, it’s easy to see you're a good friend. Sometimes our friends won’t appreciate advice they don’t want to hear—especially if they're using drugs—but telling the truth to help someone close to you is part of being a real friend, even when it’s hard to do.

Here are some ideas of things to say and do:

What To Do:

  • Find out if your friend is experimenting with drugs, or if he may be addicted. Neither one is good—but you may need more support if your friend is addicted.
  • Understand that addiction is a brain disease. Just like you wouldn’t expect someone with cancer to be able to heal herself without a doctor's help, the right treatment, and support from family and friends, you can’t expect your friend to heal herself.
  • Know that it's never easy for anyone to admit that they have a drug problem. You’ll need to be patient—and not give up easily.
  • Listen, encourage, share, and support. Sounds easy, right? But it’s so hard. We provide further tips and resources in a previous post we wrote titled “How to Help a Friend in Need.”
  • BTW, it's tough having a friend with addiction issues. So, if you need some support, visit: http://www.alanon.alateen.org/.

What To Say:

  • Just telling your friend that you’re concerned can be a big help. Your friend may not want to talk about it, and the effects of drugs on the brain may keep him from “hearing” you or acting on your advice.
  • Assure your friend you are there for her and that she is not alone. People with drug problems often have gotten in with the wrong crowd—and they don’t want to turn away from these so-called friends for fear of being alone.
  • Suggest that he speak to a trusted adult who will keep it confidential. Maybe there’s a family friend who could help.
  • Turn to a professional for immediate help if the problem looks to be too big for you to handle alone, or if you’re worried your friend may have suicidal thoughts that she could act on.
  • Use SAMHSA’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator or call 1–800–662–HELP to tap into a support network where you can find immediate and confidential help 24/7. They'can also direct you to local treatment options.

When the people we care about and have lots in common with make bad choices, it can be frustrating, confusing, and a little depressing. Still, we should be there for our friends—and also try to be a good role models for them by making smart choices ourselves.

Update: Learn more suggestions for how to help a friend.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


This is very good advice. Speak to a trusted adult - 9 out of 10 the drug abuser does not realise they have a problem until it is too late...fiona from London

A kid in my grade smokes weed and I'm not sure what to do to help him because I'm only in 6th grade (so is he) and I'm not sure how to approach him because I think he likes me and I don't want to just butt in to his business like "I HEARD YOU SMOKE WEED!" or if I should tell the health teacher. What should I do? PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You should approach the health teacher as that it very serious. Also try and help him. Even if it means people are gossiping about you two when you do. Possess that kindness and let him know that telling the teacher elwas for his benefit.
You and me both dude, I have a classmate that transferred recently and he admitted that he was kicked out of his school for smoking weed, I really want to help him cause he looks like a nice guy, I also kinda need help with that lol...
He may be addictied or not just let him know your there for him hope he gets help, let him know it's ok to have an addiction and incourage him to quite smoking weed, you can't force him to quite smoking weed but you can be incouraging, he's not alone a lott of people have drug addictions. You sound smart enough not to ever try any of the stuff. You'll probly be ok being around him.
Hello CJ. You should try to avoid him. Smoking marijuana isn't that bad, but make sure to advise your health teacher about this situation..
Are you mad. It is people like you that worsen the community. Do you not know that ignoring and condemning him will only make him go further into his addiction and make the situation worse. Please dont give advise if you dont know what your talking about.
Talk to him slowly make him think it's what he wants for the best of himself and his family and friends. Remember he needs help he cannot go through this alone if the problem gets out of hand talk to a trusted and responsible adult trust. Me I had the same problem
I am in 6th grade and I have a ferns/ potential gf who is addicted to LSD. I just got her to talk about her life a few days ago and she is dealing with heavy stuff. She's in eighth grade but I want to help. How do I tell a girl who really likes me to stop doing drugs?

Hi Zane, is there an adult you could talk to, like a parent or someone at school? They may be able to help your friend. You or she could also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which helps people work through all kinds of tough situations: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ If your friend wants help with addiction recovery, this site can help her find treatment options: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

threaten to break up with her. next thing you know, you are doing drugs and living on the street because you spent every cent on drugs. your family will disown you and show you no mercy.
im a kid from pakistan my brother took heroine tonight and even thought i feel bad i dont have the guts to tell an elder ive done cigs and vape but never ibdulaged with drugs and im worried as hell for my brother plz help me by replying i need help please

We understand you care deeply for your brother. Figuring out how to help someone you love who is using drugs can be tricky. But there are things you can do. Listen without making judgments. Suggest that he talk to a trusted adult like a school counselor, parent, or doctor about finding help. Share scientific information about what heroin can do to a person. Get the latest on how heroin affects the brain and body here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/heroin. Once your brother understands how heroin could affect his life, it might open his eyes.

She might get angry with you but l would simply tell her she needs to stop she's runing her life. Tell somone else that may beable to help her. Like a her parents.
Can you get hooked on acid? Tell a teacher, or a counselor. They'll help.
I am also in grade 6. I think you should tell the closest adult to you and get their opinion on this matter. Either way you should tell a trusted adult. The health teacher would know what to do. Also, ask the teacher if she could not say your name when she speaks to the boy. That should help!
first of all be honest because is not good to lie or to give false hope , but you must becarefull so that he doesnt misunderstand what you want to say to him.
I am in the same boat but I'm in seventh grade,I would suggest telling a resource officer or teacher. NO matter how mad your friend is he will not be doing drugs after this and he can live a longer life so just think of the good thing you are doing by telling an adult he may be mad but you are doing the right thing. hope this helps
nothing serious can happen from smoking weed, unless it leads to them using other drugs, so don't worry too much, telling teachers at school will only make a problem that isn't that bad even worse , the stress of it may even lead to him smoking more weed so I would just leave it and ask if hes ok now and again
tell him to pick up a book and put down the blunt
The best way to help this person is to go up and say, "Hey (his name), can I talk to you about something?" If he says yes, try to talk to him about the dangers drugs can have to his health and that even though he can't overdose on weed, he might get involved with other drugs that he can overdose on. If he says no, don't bother him about it. Wait a few days and ask him again. Repeat this for a while until he agrees to talk.
I think you should go to a counselor or a trusted adult before approaching him. Maybe if you tell a teacher or someone in the school, they can get him help!
Inform a trusted adult
Yes, you should definitely tell an adult. Tell your principal that you know someone who is smoking ILLEGAL drugs and you want to help him. If he is making you uncomfortable, tell him straight up that he is making you uncomfortable and that you don't feel anything romantic for him. You are only in 6th grade and I feel that at your age, you shouldn't worry too much about boys and dating, and more on your studies. As a 19 year old soon heading into her 20's, I wish I had focused more on my studies. You really need the knowledge when you head into the big world. So, my advice to you, a young woman who has a bright future ahead of her is, NEVER let peer pressure, your friends, and what you see on T.V. change you or get in your way of learning. I'm rooting for you kiddo!! Tell your principal about the boys weed, confront him if he makes you uncomfortable, and focus on studies. Arigato and goodbye!~ ( pardon my English )
me too... I told the principle and tried not to cause drama by telling him in private
Hi! this is a long time from when you posted this but this might be helpful. I am in eighth grade right now and I have a friend who is also abusing substance and doing drugs, he is currently suicidal also im working on getting him off of the substance because that will help. what you should do is talk to him and ask him about it, if he denies that he does and he wont tell you anything after multiple tries then you should resort to the Health Teacher. Once you have confirmation, and if he needs serious help go to the Health Teacher ASAP. I hope this helps, email me if you have any other questions.
i would confront him and just say hey i heard around that you have been smoking weed and if he opens up and talks to you about it i would ask him why he does it and try to use those ways to try and get him to stop. if that doesn't work then i would talk to your health teacher
Tell the teacher on the low boo. It cold turn into an addiction and if y’all are in year six, there’s little you can do. Talk to someone with authority
Tell him that u want to be his friend as I think you are a great guy. Ask him what he likes doing what makes he feel good about himself does he likes playing football then ask him would u like a play football in the park, there might be a reason why he's taken drugs try to find out what going on in his life , then after while telling him that the teacher was talking about what drugs can do to damage someone brain and the teachers were saying that u won't get good grades also how taken drugs will wreck his life. I hope this helps
I have an online friend who is always hurting herself and doing drugs. I want to help her and she is open to me helping her… but how can I? I have given her several phone numbers and told her how my father got over drugs, carrying around food and eating it when he wants to smoke, but if there is anything else I can do I want to do it.

Hi Amy, is it possible for you to contact her parents or another adult, like a guidance counselor? You can't make your friend stop doing drugs and hurting herself, but an adult might be able to get her the help she needs. If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, and they can help you talk through the situation.

My dad is a drug addict. He has schizophrenia. He is wrecking my family, my mum is trying as hard as she possibly can, to keep this family running. But, the problem is that he does not want to stop. What do I do?

Hi Zee, so sorry you're dealing with this! Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They should be able to help you find resources in your area.

And that is very true I lost my step father to drugs and my is in jail b/c she did drugs and missed her probation officer
This is great advice. Specially because I was writing a journal related to the topic.
My sister's friend Xavier is still smoking! How can I stop this?

It’s great that you care about your sister and her friends! Drug use can have devastating consequences, and you are courageous to want to help your friend. Figuring out what to do when a friend or someone you know is having trouble with drugs or alcohol can be tricky. You want to help, but you might not know how to bring it up. Here are some tips:
Listen without making judgments.

Suggest that your sister or her friend talk to an adult she or he trusts—a coach or teacher, a school counselor, a relative, or a doctor.

Share scientific information about what drugs can do to a person. Get the latest on how drugs affect the brain and body here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open his eyes.

A person recently moved to my school , we have been talking and we’ve become pretty good friends . I recently found out that she does drugs and I don’t know what to do . She says she hasn’t smoked since February but idk if I can believe her. I don’t want to talk to an adult because I don’t want her to get into trouble. Please help I don’t know what to do !

Drug use can have devastating consequences, and you are courageous to want to help your friend. Figuring out what to do when someone you care about is having trouble with drugs or alcohol can be tricky. You want to help, but you might not know how to bring it up. Here are some tips: Listen without making judgments. Suggest that she talk to a teacher, a school counselor, or a doctor. Share scientific information about what drugs can do to a person. Get the latest on how drugs affect the brain and body here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts.

My friend uses ganja, and I want him to stop and I'm afraid he can make my other friends in to drug addiction and maybe he'll try to do experiments on strong drugs such as cocaine, do you have any advices for me?

It’s great that you care so much about your friend. Figuring out how to help someone who is using drugs can be tricky. But there are things you can do. Listen without making judgments. Suggest that he talk to a trusted adult like a school counselor, parent, or doctor about finding help. Share scientific information about what marijuana can do to a person. Get the latest on how marijuana affects the brain and body here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana. Once your friend understands how marijuana could affect his life, it might open his eyes.

I think is i am a drug and alc user at the age 13 and the thing is that you cant help your friend usless they wanna be helped. you can tell thier parents about what is happing and get them into a treatment a lot of hospitals have treatment for teens. but the thing is they cant be helped unless they wanna be help. in thier head is just i want the drug i want the drug. so talk to theri parents about it ! (:

What should you do if you promised your friend you wouldnt tell anyone, but are still very worried about them?

Encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult who might help them. This could include a parent, their doctor, a teacher or guidance counselor at school, among others. If there is no one else to confide in, they may be able to find to a local treatment professional who can help them by consulting this resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

Actually my ex is found drugs because we broke up he's cutting himself, smoking and just being a douche. You should pull your friend aside and give them suggestions that an adult/counselor can help with.
My ex friend keeps telling me that my ex is on drugs. How can I know if its true????
My friend also does drugs and I don't want to tell everyone but I can't keep it a secret what do I do? I told my parents and my mom is trying to help them out but I want them to listen so, I would just keep it between you two and try helping him/her all you can
Same thing just happend to me just tell someone who you trust or will keep it confidential.
Why would you keep a promise that got your fiend hurt or in danger?