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

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.

a friend of mine is leaving he smoke and take drugs and i want to give him a piece of advice by writing.
There is a girl I know from primary school (and is in year 7 now) and we were (are still are distant friends). Lately she has been putting pics of her and her friends doing drugs. Her mum and older sister are also addicts. She has been in foster care twice and she hated it and I don't want to do something because I'm scared she will go in it again. She is also very outgoing and I know that she is most likely not to take advice.
my friend just told me they did crack. 15 years old. help.

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 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.

My friend's boyfriend and friends got her into drugs. When they broke up she continued taking them to be able to either think about things properly, or forget about them. She's not addicted, but she won't stop. Ive begged her to so many times and she said she will, but she doesn't. She goes to parties and takes MDMA, LSD, weed etc. she doesn't know where she is half the time and goes home with guys she doesn't know. All her other friends encourage her to do take the drugs and she does. How do I get her to stop? She's 17. Something bad will happen one day

You’re right: 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 the brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

You should also talk with your parents, a trusted adult, or the school guidance counselor for advice.

My boyfriend is addicted to heroeen,he himself told me about it,he's been doing drugs for three years and now he doesnt have any money so he is in a bad condition.He thinks that his parants dont love and care about him and he thinks he has nothing to live for.But I dont want to lose him besides he is only 20 .I think he really needs my help,and he asked for my help. I really dont know how to help him someone please tell me what to do

It’s great to hear that your boyfriend is asking for help, and may be ready to quit using heroin. The best thing you can do is ask a trusted adult for help, or ask him to talk to someone he trusts to find help. He (or you) can also call 1-800-662-4357 (toll-free) or visit this website and enter his location: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/. This free service is available 24/7/365.

my best friend is really determined to take drugs and i have tried to tell her the negative effects and what can happen but she won't listen. what do?

Drug use can have devastating consequences, and you are courageous to want to help your friend. Figuring out what to do when a friend is thinking about using drugs 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 friend 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 the brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

Hi, I’m isaac I’m 14 and my friend has been feeling depressed and to some extent suicidal, we’ve spoken to a councillor but in the last few days a boy has contacted her about drugs me and my friends are concerned because she means so much to us but I have no clue who the boy is and how I should go about it because she’s a bit naive and doesn’t take advice from anyone i was just wondering 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 a friend is thinking about using drugs 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 friend 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 the brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

And if she is still feeling suicidal, either one of you can 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 her to get help, but you can let her know when she’s ready that you will help her find help.

My friend is addicted to breath spray and I don't know what to do. He's threatened me with a gun to get his spray and threatened to kill himself over withdrawal. Eventually I had to give it back to him. I don't know what to do!

You sound like a very caring friend! Please talk to a trusted adult as soon as possible such as a teacher, counselor, coach, or pastor. They can help you figure out what to do. You can also 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.

Hey, I have two friends that I've been friends with since elementary school (I'm in high school now), and they've been recently drinking together, smoking weed together, smoking tobacco together, ad have been trying to get into girls pants to look "cool" and "popular". Anyways, I don't know what to do, I don't have solid evidence, and my best friend who over hears their conversations (She's their friend too) on a daily bases. What should I do? they literally just asked this new kid to smoke with him, and he agreed on the bus.

It sounds like you are a caring and concerned friend. We encourage you to talk to an adult you trust - a parent, teacher, or coach - share your concerns with them.

My girlfriend told me that she was high at lunch today and I am really scared for her and I don't know how long she's smoked weed or if she's just experimenting but I'm really scared and don't know what to do.

It’s great that you care so much about your girlfriend. 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. If you want more advice, you might also consider talking with your parents, a trusted adult, or the school guidance counselor.

If I’m 14 and I smoke weed nightly dies that mean im addicted? Everyone says I look like I’m 16 and I act a lot older than my age I play many sports and it’s never had an impact but I just don’t wanna stop

We’re not in a position to know whether or not you’re addicted, but if you want to find out, we recommend you talk to a health care professional like a doctor or nurse. If you do decide you want to stop smoking weed, a doctor can help.

My friend is in 11th std and he is addicted to weed, alcohol and cigarettes too. Sometimes, He takes injection too. He is used to take some medicine too which is harmful for his brain. But he is addicted. He knows everything that it will just harm him but then also he is not able to stop himself. He is a really nice guy. I told him to go to rehab or consult a doctor but he doesn't want to. What should I do? Please help.

Please talk to a trusted adult such as a teacher, counselor, coach, or pastor. They can help you figure out what to do.

Hi, my friend, she’s 17, has recently decided to start smoking weed the other day she left school with one of our friends pass and decided to smoke it in public and my friends pass smelt of weed when she came back into school. She also brought weed into school but said she wouldn’t smoke it, we don’t know what to do cause she never listens to us and we try to tell her to stop but she laughs and jokes and doesn’t care. We want to tell someone but we 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 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 judgment.

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 the brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

Me and my best friend are going into the eighth grade. My friend has been going through a lot this summer and has been discovering themselves. Such as being transgender and bisexual. But, they have been smoking weed and getting drunk, and so I’m a bit worried. There’s no trusted adults they not me can tell about this. They’ve smoked and vaped a little in the past so I don’t know. They’ve had a tough past and also have many disorders. I don’t know what to do, or if I should just leave it alone. They’ve taken care of them self for years before she met me... I don’t know what to do. I know this is an old article and probably no one will respond to me but it’s worth a try I guess :/

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 judgment.

Suggest that they 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.

Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open their eyes.

My friend just asked me for money so that he pays the mirgint or buy drugs. He wasn't quite giving a reason why he wants the money, just found out. Now I don't know what to do, should I give him. I don't him to have trouble with the drug dealer.

It’s not a good idea to give a friend money for drugs. If you need advice on how to help your friend, please talk with a trusted adult like a parent, teacher, or coach.

If my friend does drug n asks for money should I give? Does it help in any way?

It’s not a good idea to give a friend money for drugs.

I have a long distance relationship with my girlfriend. My girlfriend has been smoking joints/blunts (weed?) for a while now. She has sleep deprivation and anxiety and she told me that she smokes weed to relieve stress. I tried to talk her out of it but she would get mad at me and tell me that shes not a kid. Lately, she even told me that shes been selling packages for her dealer. After hearing this, I was really upset and hurt. I feel really bad for not being there for her and no matter what I do, I cannot talk her out of it. She told me she makes her own life decisions and no one could ever change that. What can I do? I really love her!

Drug use can have devastating consequences, and you are courageous to want to help your girlfriend from a distance. Figuring out what to do when someone you love 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 judgment.

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.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This free, confidential helpline is open 24/7/365, and trained professionals can you advice for all kinds of rough situations. They can give you suggestions for helping your friend, even if she's not suicidal.

Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

Be sure to talk to the friend as early as you notice the behavior. You may see them smoking weed once, but that doesn't meant they've only done it once. Talk to them and try to figure out how long it has been going on. Even if they're "just experimenting," remind them of the risks they are taking and that you are there for them no matter what. Also try and figure out why they started. As a teen I began smoking because of issues and neglect at home. The only reason I abused less was because my friends and their mom expressed their concern for me before I became addicted. Knowing I was disappointing them made it easier to stay away from weed and other drugs. You can be that person for someone else.
I was with a group of friends and one of them just told us all that she had been smoking weed. She went on about how it wasn't that dangerous compared to alcohol and cigarettes, so she should be fine. She said she really liked getting high, and that there was no fealing like it. I got a little mad and told her that my cousin did weed and went to jail for a day, and kept asking her why she did this. I regret getting mad at her, because she really needs support. I don't know how to help her now

Drug use can have devastating consequences, and you are courageous to want to help your friend, even if you feel like she is upset with you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. 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 judgment.

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.

Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open her eyes.

my girlfriend is doing heroine and I don't know how to help her or how to bring the subject up and I really need some help with this I'm worried for her please can I get some advice asap thanks

Drug use can have devastating consequences, and you are courageous to want to help your girlfriend. 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 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 the brain, body, and life, it might open their eyes.

You should also talk with your parents, a trusted adult, or the school guidance counselor for advice.

my friend is consuming drugs i don't want her to consume her drugs some how for past two to three months i had made her to avoid drugs but again she has started to consume drugs i am not able to see that i am confused plz help me out with this

Drug use can have serious consequences. It sounds like you care about your friend. Figuring out what to do when someone you know is having trouble with drugs 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.

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 her eyes.

You should also talk with your parents, a trusted adult, or the school guidance counselor for advice.

my best friend lives in another state and has told me that she's smoking weed more often now, and that her life has issues right now. I won't share them; theyre hers to do so with, but they're mostly relationship based. She told me she's skipping school now, and I'm kind of worried for her. I don't want to be 'that friend' and be all 'smoking is bad i can't believe you'd do that' because that's not me. But i'm worried that her life will go off the rails and i can't help her because 1) i live on the other side of the country and 2) i don't want to lose her friendship because she means a lot to me. How do i help her? I don't want her to end up addicted to something worse than weed, or dropping out of school, because then i REALLY can't help her. It's making me a wreck and i don't know how to do this. I wish i could do it face to face because that'd make it easier, but I'll have to wait to summer to do that and by then it might be too late. advice? help?

It sounds like you care for your friend. You should share with her your concerns because drug use can have serious consequences. Listen to her without making judgments. And 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 her eyes.

You could also talk with your parents, a trusted adult, or the school guidance counselor for advice.

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