Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: How Can I Help My Friend?

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.

Comments

Encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult who might help him. 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/

I have this friend and he and I are pretty close but he started to get depressed and turned to drugs and alcohol. He is only 14 and gets high almost everyday. I hate when he dies this. How do I talk to him when he won't listen to what I have to say or if he does and brushes it off. Please help me

It’s great that you want to help your friend. In addition to the suggestions for talking to them in this post, you can check out some of the resources on this page that have more information about help for people using drugs: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/have-a-drug-problem-need-help. 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/

I have this friend and he and I are pretty close but he started to get depressed and turned to drugs and alcohol. He is only 14 and gets high almost everyday. I hate when he dies this. How do I talk to him when he won't listen to what I have to say or if he does and brushes it off. Please help me

Hi Ireland, it can definitely be tough for people to talk about drugs and alcohol, whether they're using it themselves or are a concerned friend. You might be able to try some of the suggestions in this post for talking to your friend: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need Is there an adult you can talk to who may be able to help, like a school counselor or someone else you trust?

If you still aren't sure what to do, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. They are a great resource and help people with lots of concerns, in addition to depression and suicide prevention.

I have a friend who started dating this guy who is heavily into weed, she first was just experimenting with it, then she started doing it more and more. She has recently told her boyfriend that she wants to try "magic mushrooms". I don't know what to do, I want to stop it before it execrates into something dangerous and harmful. Should I confront her? She I tell her parents? Should I tell our youth pastor?

You might try talking to your friend and telling her you're concerned. This post has some tips for getting the conversation started: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need If she doesn't listen or you think the problem is too big for you to handle on your own, you can definitely talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent or a pastor.

What if they not only do drugs, but they also are a drug dealer? What now?

If your friend is using drugs, you should say that you care about him/her very much, but that you cannot be around drugs, and until he/she stops using, your friendship will be temporarily on hold. Stay firm in your decision. It is only a matter of time before you get dragged into some drama related to his/her illegal activities. You can suggest your friend read this Step by Step Guide to determine if he or she has a drug problem: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment
If you are concerned about your friend’s health and safety, you can consider discussing this with a trusted adult advisor (like your parent or a teacher), and ask that your involvement be kept confidential.

What do you do if they're a drug dealer and a drug doer?

If your friend is using drugs, you should say that you care about him/her very much, but that you cannot be around drugs, and until he/she stops using, your friendship will be temporarily on hold. Stay firm in your decision. It is only a matter of time before you get dragged into some drama related to his/her illegal activities. You can suggest your friend read this Step by Step Guide to determine if he or she has a drug problem: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment
If you are concerned about your friend’s health and safety, you can consider discussing this with a trusted adult advisor (like your parent or a teacher), and ask that your involvement be kept confidential.

There is a girl in one of my classes who I don't know very well, but I was concerned for her. I saw her arm one day and it was all cut and I have seen two pictures of her vaping. According to other pictures the cuts are from the past two or three months and I worry that she is going downhill. What should I do? I would want to say something to her but have never really talked to her.

Hi Lucy, we have some suggestions for starting a conversation with a friend you're concerned about in this post: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need You also may be able to talk to an adult who can help.

If you still aren't sure what to do, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. They are a great resource and help people with lots of concerns, in addition to suicide prevention.

Hi my older brother is 20 yrs old but still lives at home. He has a good job as an electricians helper. He goes out and parties just about every other night near a university on the other side of our town. He recently decide he wanted to move some of his things out. He had left to take some of his stuff to his place and as I was cleaning his room I found not only a cabinet full of empty alcohol bottles but a bowl of weed and bag and then some graham crackers with peanut butter and weed on them. I haven't said anything to him nor does he know I saw them. I have heard a lot of things at school from my friends and from my friends friends about how they either bought marijuana off my brother or got high with him. When I heard these rumors I had mentioned it to my parents. My brother has a different father then me that had passed away about 6 yrs ago due to all kinds of drugs. My mom asked him if those rumors were true and he denied everything even when his gf at the time had told me it was true. What do I do now that I have found hard core evidence that is still in my house? Do I tell my parents or keep it to myself?

Only you know the dynamics of your family. However, if you think your brother has a problem, you might consider discussing it with your parents or other trusted adults who are in a position to help. Take a look at our Step by Step Guide designed to help you determine if someone you love has a problem: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-your-te...

My close friend in college drinks alcohol, smokes weed, and is into tabacco. He told me that he's increased the amount of chew he takes and that he was going to stop but continues to feel the need to buy it. He recently confided in me that he thinks he might be slightly addicted to chew. My friend also told me that he has started smoking about 2 cigarettes a week. I don't do drugs but some of his other friends do. I've told him drugs are bad for his health and that he should stop but his usual response is that he has it all under control. I don't know what to do to help him and get him to stop because it worries me that he sounds slightly proud of his ways sometimes.

That's tough. Sometimes people don't want to hear that you think they should stop using alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, but it's good for your friend to know that you are care. If you need to talk this through with someone else, maybe there's an adult you can reach out to for advice. If not, you can try one of the resources listed in this post: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/lifeline-where-to-get-help-when-you... Good luck!

I have a friend who just had a family member pass away and now is using all kinds of drugs. We are in high school and now they have moved out of their house to live with a significant other who is much older. I don't want to get involved because I know they have been through a lot but I feel guilty not doing anything. What should I do?

It can be really difficult to know how to support a friend who's dealing with drugs and family issues. Maybe they would appreciate hearing that you care about them and are concerned, or maybe there's an adult you can reach out to for advice. If you're not sure what to do, you can always talk it through with someone at Lifeline Crisis Chat or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/lifeline-where-to-get-help-when-you... Good luck!

One of the sweetest and coolest guys in my grade is doing drugs. I just found out today about it, and I really want to do something about it.
My friend who moved to dubai when we were kids is now 16. She is a very talented person, sings and always did her best to be good in any way and still does. Recently she sent a snap where she was smoking, I talked about it with her, but I wasn't really concerned. But tonight the sent me snaps where she laughed and screamed like she was someone else, her eyes made scary movements and she took off her clothes while saying "Im so high". Please give me some advice, she lives so far away now, but we still talk everyday and I do have a good influence on her. Her friends might be a bit lost too. How do I talk to her about this tomorrow? Thank you for reading!

Hi Joachim, it's great that you care about your friend enough to be concerned. Sometimes just letting a person know that you're worried and think that drugs aren't a good idea means a lot. Try some of the suggestions in this post, or in this one, about how to help a friend in need: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need If you need someone to talk to, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. Good luck!

Hello I wish to remain anonymous so I used A as my name. So I think that I have been going through too much. At the moment I am 16. When I was 13 my close friend told me she was cutting herself so I told an adult and she got help. At 14-15 my other friend told me she was suicidal as well and attempted 3 times. She had depression like another one of my friends and got help. Recently she has told me she is bulimic because of what people say about her. My best friend in the whole world has changed a lot since last year. She has been drinking a ton and trying random drugs so she can "be happy." I'm very concerned but she thinks she is fine. It's killing me to see her like this. On top of that she doesn't eat very much and she has been doing a lot of bad stuff. Her sisters used to be the same way but for a short period and they stopped themselves. But this friend has been doing it more and more lately and I just don't know how to help. Their parents aren't really parents that much because they don't know that their children sneak out of the house and are gone most of the day.

Hi A, this sounds like too much for you to handle on your own. Is there another adult you can talk to, maybe one of your parents or someone at school? If you ever need to talk to someone or aren't sure what to do, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They help people work through a lot of different issues, not just suicide.

My friend started doing drugs and sex when she got into this new Crowd at work and I'm really worried for her now she wants to runaway because she's scared to be in her own home and live out of her car but I can't tell her mom cuz her mom doesn't care so I have no idea how to help!!!

Hi Casey, it's great that you want to help your friend. Is there another trusted adult you could discuss this with? Maybe someone at school or your own parents? 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/ or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Help. My friend is depressed, self harming and suicidal. He just told me that he tried drugs and that the depression went away for a while. He also told me that he would do it again if given the opportunity. I can't just sit here while he either kills himself or wrecked his life. He's in football, he's an amazing singer and has a bright future. I want to tell a trusted adult but I also don't want to betray him as he had me promise I wouldn't tell anyone. Help

Hi Ruby, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this! If your friend is harming himself and suicidal, then telling an adult isn't betraying him, it's getting him help that he needs. If you aren't sure who to reach out to, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They have counselors available 24/7 who you or your friend can talk with about this.

I have a friend who said she wants to do marijuana. She said she wants to do meth as well. I dont want her to become an addict and its been worrying me for a while now. I dont want to worry but its consuming my life. What should I do? Im in 8th grade btw.

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this! Maybe you or your friend could contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which helps people work through all kinds of tough situations: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Try to show your friend all the bad things about this. After that it is her decision to make. If it gets worse tell a trusted adult.
Hello. My friend takes pills and she's like WAAAY obsessed with them she takes more than 10 everyday.. Me and a friend are thinking about telling a counselor. I'm just scared she's gonna overdose if it's too late.. Thanks
I know a guy that just started doing drugs like a week ago and he gets high during class and I'm worried especially since I sit next to him. I'm not really close to him but I still want to help him.

Hi Gisselle, we have some suggestions for starting a conversation with a friend you're concerned about in this post: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need You also may be able to talk to an adult who can help.

If you still aren't sure what to do, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. They are a great resource and help people with lots of concerns, in addition to suicide prevention.

Two of my closest friends have been doing weed lately (one alot more then the other, almost everyday) but I had told them that I would keep it a secret. Another friend of mine is cool with this situation but im not. I have not been hanging out with them lately because I don't want to be dragged into this but I feel guilty and I need to do something. What do you guys advise? I'm 16 and they are 18. Should I tell my parents so that they can contact theirs? But im afraid if i tell my parents that they will ban me from hanging out with them in the future and if they find out I told someone, they will be pissed. Please help.

If you don't feel comfortable talking about this with your parents, is there another adult you could reach out to, like a school counselor? If you aren't sure what to do, you can always talk it through with someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Hi Doruk, First off, trying to ignore them isn't going to help. You have to take action before your situation gets worse. Telling your parents might be the best option, but you could always try telling a close adult at school such as a teacher. Is it OK if I print out your situation and talk to my health teacher about it? Reply as soon as possible. Good Luck.
Hi so one of my best friends recently admitted to me that he does drugs. I noticed that he had been hanging out with the wrong type of crowd recently, but thought nothing of it. His older brother also did drugs and vapes and now so does he. I'm really worried and I want it to stop, because I can't sheke the feeling that something bad is gonna happen to him. I want to talk to him about it, but I feel like it would change our relationship, and it would get all wierd, like I would be the buzzkill or the mom. What should I do?

Hi Grace, it can be tough to talk to people about drug use. Maybe check out some of the tips in this post: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/how-help-friend-need or talk it through first with an adult you trust, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which helps people work through all kinds of tough situations: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ They may be able to help you figure out what to say.

I have a friend (well more of an acquaintance by which i mean that we have hung out once but arent extremely close). I really like this girl, and recently I found out that she smokes weed because I smelled it on her not initially knowing what it was until I described the smell to my mom. thus, she doesnt necessarily know that i know, and so i dont know if i should keep quiet about it. Not saying anything seems wrong, but i also feel that it wouldnt be appropriate to confront her about it especially because we arent THAT close. I really care about her well-being and want her to stop. What should I do? How can I help her without hurting her?

Hi Helen, 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/

Hi, I'm not going to tell you my name but I need help. I don't know what to do my friend has choose to do drugs. I would like to help my friend we don't talk a lot. I would like you to know that the reason my friend dose drugs is because of my friends. Life at home and their is nothing I can do to help. With my friends life at home. What do I do?
Hi there, is there an adult you could talk to, like a parent or someone at school? You can't make your friend stop doing drugs, but an adult might be able to get them the help they need. You or your friend could also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which helps people work through all kinds of tough situations: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
one of my close friends has fallen into doing drugs and smoking weed. she even started skipping school to hangout with her ''friends'' that i know are a bad influence to her. my mom doesnt like her so im scared if i tell her mom about it that my mom will find out. also my friend completely hates her mom and wants nothing to do with her. im 13 and shes 14. what do i do?
If you don't want to talk to your parents or her parents, is there someone else you could talk to, like a teacher or guidance counselor at school? You or your friend could also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you aren't sure what to do: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
So one of my friends is taking one of her brothers meds she looked it up and made sure it wouldn't harm her first but now she thinks she may be a little addicted to it she couldn't take much or people would notice but she still has like one more I think and I don't know how to help her. Should I just make sure she really is out and will be forever or should I do more?

Is there an adult you could talk to, like a parent or someone at school? They may be able to help you decide what to do. You or your friend 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 is addicted and wants help with recovery, this site can help her find treatment options: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/

What do I do if my friend is taking acid? She's in 9th grade and recently she's been coming to school high on acid every single day. She smokes mary jane too, and my other friend and I are thinking about an intervention. But both of us know that talking to her won't do anything, and the only way to help her is to tell a school official. Though we don't want her getting into any legal trouble.

Hi Leah, acid can be dangerous, so you're right to want to get your friend some help. 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/

I am in 11th grade, i have a friend in same grade as me that i grew up with last year he used weed a lot over the summer he told me he stopped but he started again because he posts pictures of it to instagram not once but 3 times. what should i do who knows if he uses other drugs too?

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