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

My friend just told me today that she's been smoking weed and cigars, I'm extremely concerned because we're not even 18 yet. I want to ask someone older for help but I can't tell my parents because they wouldn't help and they'd tell me that I can't be friends with her and they're extremely overprotective and I can't talk to any of the people in our school because they'll talk to her parents about it and they don't know about it, I know she wouldn't want them to find out through school, she would want to tell them in her own time. She has other friends who smoke too and I don't know what to do, I've been on the internet for a few hours now researching the long and short term effects of smoking (cigars and weed), and so far I know what might happen to her, I know she could become addicted (if she's not already, and I REALLY hope not) I know she could get moody, I know she could suffer from memory loss. I don't know what to do and I'm scared for her because of all the bad things you read/see/hear about people who start smoking at a young age, she's my best friend and I need advice.

Hi Emma, is there another adult you can talk to, like a school counselor or someone in your community? 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). They help people work through lots of tough situations, not just suicide prevention.

A close friend of mine from middle school (we're both in different high schools now) smoked weed and lied to me about it. I've strongly encouraged him to stop but he won't listen to me even though I've seen the negative consequences that people who used weed have experienced. He's going to start using mushrooms starting this Saturday. This guy is like a brother to me and I really want to help him. Any advice?

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/

my friend
My boyfriend does lsd. He isn't addicted but he still wants to do it. He is 15. He takes lsd with one of his friends who is 14 and has access to a lot of different drugs through people that he knows. I wanted my boyfriend to stop doing it but he said that he enjoys the new reality and wants to explore. His drug buddy then talked to me two and told me how lsd isn't something bad or anything and then invited me to come along with them. I don't want to seem forceful or anything but I wish I could stop him from taking drugs. I wanted to tell his parents but he and his friend begged me not to since he would get in very much trouble. I have no idea what to do

Hi Yaryna, is there an adult you can talk to about this, like a parent or school counselor? You definitely shouldn't use LSD yourself, and you're right to be concerned about your boyfriend. I know he's asked you not to tell his parents, but they might be able to keep him from getting hurt by it. 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/.

Hallucinogens, including LSD, can be dangerous. LSD can increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. LSD also causes rapid emotional shifts (called "tripping"), and these can be really unpredictable and sometimes scary. Because this type of drug causes hallucinations, people can get hurt while using them because they don't know what they're doing. They can also cause long-term effects like fear, confusion, or visual disturbances, even after a person stops using the drug. You can read more about hallucinogens here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/hallucinogens-di... and here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/hallucinogens

My boyfriend does lsd. He isn't addicted but he still wants to do it. He is 15. He takes lsd with one of his friends who is 14 and has access to a lot of different drugs through people that he knows. I wanted my boyfriend to stop doing it but he said that he enjoys the new reality and wants to explore. His drug buddy then talked to me two and told me how lsd isn't something bad or anything and then invited me to come along with them. I don't want to seem forceful or anything but I wish I could stop him from taking drugs. I wanted to tell his parents but he and his friend begged me not to since he would get in very much trouble. I have no idea what to do

Hi there, it’s great that you want to help your friend. In addition to the suggestions for talking to them in this post (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-how-can-i-help-my-fr...), 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. Is there an adult you can talk to, like a school counselor or one of your 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).

What if I saw two of my friends exchange a marker containing LSD at my lunch table at school, confronted them, and they openly talked to me about what they're doing? I'm a sophomore, and I'm the odd one out in my group of friends because I'm grade advanced and I used to be homeschooled so everyone is of the opinion I'm too innocent to see what is going on. They don't think there is anything wrong with what they are doing, and I don't want to get them in trouble so I'm only saying what happened, not who is involved. They're also using marijuana. I trust them not to get me involved or peer pressure me, but I will say names if I see them doing something like that. I'm no longer sitting at their lunch table but I'm still talking to them and friends with them. If I've never been really close friends with them and they see me as invading on their personal lives, how can I help them?

LSD can be very dangerous, so you're right to be concerned about your friends. Is there an adult you can talk you? If you'd like to talk to someone else, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

Hello, I am in ninth grade. My friend for several years has told me that he want to try weed, and he wants me try it with him. Please know I have no intention of smoking it myself, but how do I convince him not to do it? I don't know if after all of this I can remain his friend, but it seems selfish of me to not be his friend at a moment like this .... I can't tell anyone I know because I may get in trouble and make me stop talking to him, but felt overwhelmed with the weight of this secret and thought someone on here might be able to help....

Hi there, if you want to talk to someone anonymously, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which helps people work through all kinds of tough situations: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

My bestfriend just started doing drugs the other day and I want them 2 to stop. They won't tho! They keep saying we don't understand and that we need to mind our business (me and my friend Rylee) but we care so much for them. We just want them to stop but they won't listen

It’s great that you want to help your friend. In addition to the suggestions for talking to them in this post (http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-how-can-i-help-my-fr...), 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/ or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

my best friend wants to experiment and well she is kinda feeling down and there is a guy who is using her to wank at night and she just feels violated and she wants to do it and myself and my other friend have both had siblings do it and we are really scared because i lost my brother and hshe almost lost hers

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 she talk to an adult she 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 a person’s brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

Im in 7th grade... My friend is abusing adderall and mixing it with anti depressants. Ive been trying to convince him to stop but he says "It feels good" blah blah blah. I'm honestly concerned for his health cuz he blacked out and woke up in a field once. His eyes are always red, he's always crazy. Once on SnapChat me and my friends found cigarettes at the park. WE DIDNT SMOKE THEM. We put them on our stories like "Look hahaha" and my friend commented "20 bucks for them? Please please please please" And I said no... Like hes only 12 years old. Idk what to do. He's popular so im afraid if i tell on him he will ruin my life... but I dont want him overdosing or starting bad habits. Hes only told a few ppl, so if I tell anonymously he might know its me who told. hes not taking me seriously when i tell him he could DIE. like I'm terrified, bc last year he was my best friend and he was all innocent and sweet and stuff but got involved with the wrong crowd and nows hes taking pills and drugs and all this horrible stuff...... Idk what to do pls pls pls pls pls help!
I'm in the 8th grade and I just found out that two people I know are doing drugs. I didn't really like them to begin with and still don't really. But I hate what they are doing. I found out through a friend whose ex boyfriend is their dealer. I only know his first name and don't feel like pushing it because she has been cutting her wrist recently. Plus I just reported her to the student counselor for the cutting, so we are on bad terms. What should I do. Please help.

Wow! We can tell you are a really good person deep down. You are at the age when some kids start to experiment with drugs. So, you are smart to know drugs are not at all good for you---in fact they do ruin the lives of some people. First, you did the right thing trying to help your friends. It is ok that you are on “bad terms” because right now you need to worry about YOUR health and well-being. Tell your friend you love her and care for her but you have to hang out with people who make healthy choices. Hopefully, the school counselor will keep an eye on her. We recommend you stay focused on YOUR future. Kids in the 8th, 9th and 10th grade see their friends start to use drugs, and often decide they have to change their friends. It is important to have friends who want to live their lives the way you do. Here is a phone number you can give your friend: 1-800-273-8255. There she can talk to a person for free about her problems and get some advice. You can also call this number and get some advice.

I'm in tenth grade, & I have a friend the same age who's knowingly addicted to xanax & weed. he's very depressed, & he refuses to talk to anyone about it but me. he's attempted suicide/hurt himself while high on multiple occasions. he has major trust issues, and i know what i need to do is get him help, but i'm hesitant because his parents might kick him out/disown him, and i'll lose his trust. what should i do?

Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This free, confidential helpline is open 24/7/365. They can give you suggestions for helping your friend. If you think your friend is in immediate danger, call 911. You can’t force him to get help, but you can let him know you will help him find treatment if he’s ready.

I'm a ninth grader and I have a friend who does xanax and I don't know what else. Her parents know but they don't care. I want to tell but if I do she'll never forgive me and also could have bigger problems due to complicated mental health and family issues. I'm worried though about an overdose and to be honest (though this is kind selfish) I'm worried about me. I know that you can get in trouble with the law if you know of the drugs and don't report and I don't want my whole future ruined and she's also jokes about slipping me the drugs and I'm scared. I just can't tell though because she is so nice and caring and a great friend and I don't want to hurt her. I don't know what to do.

You should talk with your parents, a trusted adult, or the school guidance counselor. We know you want to help your friend, but you need to take care of yourself first.

my friend is going out every weekend getting drunk and smoking marijuana. she says she " doesn't understand how i used to have fun without drinking." shes getting worse in the way that her personality has changed she is rude to her friends and family but actually doesn't see that she is acting this way and believes that everyone is treating her different but she is actually just not knowingly pushing them away with her rudeness due to her knew "good girl gone bad" rep. how do i make her realize she is the one acting different and that if she doesn't clean up her act she'll ruin her life. Please Help!

It’s great that you care so much about your friend. Unfortunately, you can’t force her to see something she’s not willing to see. You can just let her know you’re there for her if she decides to get help.

My friend just told me he does cocaine, he sent me a picture of him with it. I don't know how to help him.

Drug use can have devastating consequences. Figuring out what to do when a friend 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 they talk to an adult they trust—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 their eyes.

The kid I'm tutoring in Spanish took out a bag of what looked like cocaine at our tutoring session today. He has been known to enjoy playing jokes on people, but this looked like the real deal (and he said it was). Weed is common at my school, but not coke. I'm a junior and he's a freshman and he does sports and is a navy cadet. He asked me not to tell anyone, but I know he should get help before this becomes a big problem. I don't want to get him kicked out of the navy, which I know he cares about a lot, but if this keeps going it could get more serious. What do I do?

If you haven’t yet, you may want to share information with him about the dangers of cocaine (https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants). Tell him you think this could affect his playing sports and his navy career. If that doesn’t help, talk with your parents, a trusted adult, or school guidance counselor for advice.

This is so helpful. I have a friend who is on drugs and I don't know how to make him stop and get help. I didn't know how to talk to him and tell him that I am there for him.
I'm in 8th grade and my friend started smoking weed. He just started but I don't know if I should tell an adult. His friends are also smoking weed. Is it too early to tell an adult?

Even if you don’t want to tell an adult about this specific friend, it may be helpful to talk to your parents, guidance counselor, or other trusted adult for advice on how to handle this type of situation. You may also want to try to share information about the health effects of marijuana with your friend (https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana).

I have a friend in 8th grade and he has been doing drugs lately but i don't know how to tell him that drugs are bad and that I'm worried for him. Can someone Help me Plz.?

Drug use can have devastating consequences. Figuring out what to do when a friend 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 they talk to an adult they trust—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 their eyes.

I have two friends who smoke weed all the time, like every day and even twice a day. I've tried pointing it out to them that they are addicted or are using an excessive amount but they don't seem to want to do anything about it. They've spent $200 in two weeks on marijuana and they seem to not care. They think because they are having fun that it't no be deal and is not an addiction. Im not sure how much I can continue to do because i am overwhelmed by their use and not sure how I can help them see that its a problem. I do not want to cut them off because I really enjoy being friends with them. I also do not want to lose them as friends nor lose them to weed.
I am in grade 11 and my best friend smokes weed with this group of friends almost every weekend. It used to be that she would never smoke weed so we would always hang out over the weekend. Not only do I fear for her, but I fear that she is choosing smoking weed with her friends over hanging out with me. Which I hope doesn't sound self centred and jealous or whatever, but in all honesty, she is my only friend. We have had conversations about weed before, she is smart and she knows the effects of it. I don't think she is addicted, she only rlly does it for fun, but lately even despite the weed, I don't think she has been a very good friend. She third wheels me on a daily basis (with her weed smoking friend), nd I'm starting to feel like her second choice against the druggies. Idk what to do. If I should confront her, how to even confront her. The thing about her is that she has this way with words that can instantly make you feel like you are in the wrong as opposed to her, which is why I have been avoiding even saying anything all year, cuz this has been going on all year. She did tell me the reason she strted it was because all of her druggy friends did it nd she felt like if she wanted to be friends with these people she has to do it. She does it now not just to feel like a part of something, she does it just cuz she likes it. Once again Idk if this sounds selfish, but why couldn't I be enough? Why did she feel the need to be friends With these people in the first place?! Srry this is so long, I'm just so angry, angry at her for making me feel this way, angry at her for doing weed. Idk what to do.

Thanks for sharing your honest experiences with marijuana. A lot of people are afraid to share their negative experiences because it is supposed to be “cool” to smoke marijuana. It takes courage to talk about it, but it can help others who are confused about marijuana. Research tells us that some people do have bad reactions, and some people do get addicted, which can make it very difficult to quit.

My brother is now starting to smoke weed and he has been getting in trouble a lot recently and I don't to get him kicked out of the house I just want to help him .I don't know what to do!!??

Ask your brother to read the article linked below, which explains what to do if you might have a problem with drugs. Also, encourage him to talk to his doctor about this. He might need treatment. If he asks your parents to help him, they might not get so mad. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-you-hav...
If you are unsure what to do, find a school counselor or other trusted adult to discuss this with. It sounds as if your brother needs the help of a professional.

My friend went from drinking away his problems and progressively went up to ecstasy and now just started cocaine. No matter what tack we try, he keeps using substances to repress his problems, and he's already been in danger a few times, and won't go to therapy. What can I do? Is there anything?

This is dangerous behavior and you cannot take on this burden by yourself. It is extremely important that you ask for advice from an adult you trust. If you talk to an adult, your friend might be angry, but you might save his life. Isn’t that worth it? It is also important—that for your own mental health and safety, you back away from the friendship for awhile. Tell your friend that you care, but that you can’t watch him mess up his life. Then talk to a school counselor, faith leader, teacher, or parent—anyone you trust. It sounds as if your friend needs help.

Lately, my friend has been acting strange and I've known her for a long time. She has never been like this before. My group of friends just learned that her dad had died and after some thinking, I realized that she has never mentioned her dad for the two years we had hung out together. One of my friends knows why she is acting this way, but she refuses to tell us. What confused me, even more, was when a stranger picked her up from school. He clearly was not related to her but they seemed to know one another. Then, last week, she was crying for a long time and I don't know why. What is wrong with her? I'm scared that she might get worse.

Figuring out what to do when a friend or someone you know is having trouble can be tricky. You want to help, but you might not know how to bring it up. If possible, suggest that she talk to an adult she trusts: a coach or teacher, a school counselor, a relative, or a doctor.
If you’re concerned that she may try to hurt herself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This free, confidential helpline is open 24/7/365. They can give you suggestions for helping your friend.

I'm 12 and so is my boyfriend and my boyfriend recently told me that he has and still does smoke weed. He only told like 4 people that he trusts and I want to tell someone but I promised him I wouldn't. And he said that his friends told him to stop too but he doesn't want to because it's fun. He has this idea that smoking weed has a bad reputation and it's not that bad because it makes you feel incredible. But he's only 12. He told me he's been doing it for the past 3 months and he's done it 4 times. The thing is I don't know how to help him stop. He doesn't do it because he's stressed, he does it simply because he thinks it's fun

It still may be helpful to talk to your parents, a guidance counselor, or another trusted adult for advice on how to handle this type of situation. And you do not need to say it is a friend, or even someone you know. You may also want to try to share information about the health effects of marijuana with your boyfriend (https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana).

I have a friend who smokes weed daily. my other friends don't seem to care because they either think it's harmless or need him to supply for them. He takes it with him to every social event even if I ask him no to. And even if he doesn't have it with him he asks strangers if they have any. He just can't do anything fun without it. I go to a school in a different city so i'm not that close anymore so he doesn't care what I say. There are absolutely no adults who I can talk to about it. He started skipping school and dropped out eventually. He gave up on his dreams and works in a factory now because he needs the money to buy the weed. I'm worried that some shady stranger might give him something more dangerous or that he would start dealing and the cops would turn him in. I just need some arguments to convince my other friends to help me so that i'm not alone.

Wow--you are in a difficult situation. First of all, remind your friend that the definition of addiction is when a person continues to use a drug despite negative consequences. Dropping out of school is certainly a negative consequence, and your friend is likely addicted and needs treatment. We will give you some links to information on marijuana. But here is the most important thing we can tell you: It is not your job to fix your friend. It is wonderful you care for him so much but you have enough to worry about as a young person. Tell him you are sending him some links so he can get better educated about marijuana and his drug use, but that he will have to make his own decisions about seeking help. Tell him that if he decides to seek help, you will support him. Then you need to live your own life and make your own good choices. Here are some links you can share with him: A booklet--- Marijuana: Facts for Teens. https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/teens_brochure_2013.pdf And here is a long question and answer guide that will let your friend determine if he needs help: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-you-hav... Most of all, encourage your friend to talk to a doctor or other adult to get help. But you will have to be willing to walk away from the friendship for awhile, for your own mental health.

One of my bestfriend smokes and I want to help her but I live across the country from her so I don't know what to do at all ! Help!

Figuring out how to help a friend who you know is smoking can be tricky – especially when they live so far away.
But, there are things you can do. Listen without making judgments. Suggest that they talk to an adult they trust—a coach or teacher, a school counselor, a relative, or a doctor. Share scientific information about what smoking can do to a person. Get the latest on how smoking affects the brain and body here: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts. Once your friend understands how smoking affects the brain, body, and life, it might open their eyes.

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