So You Think You May Have a Problem with Drugs. What Now?

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Red dice with white question mark on each side.

Developing a problem with drugs—or what experts call a “substance use disorder”—can happen at any age, but it usually starts when a person is young. If you continue to use drugs even though they lead to harmful consequences, you may have a problem that could lead to addiction, the most severe substance use disorder. It can happen to anyone.

If you think you may have a substance use disorder, it’s important to talk to a medical professional about it. Your health and future could be at stake. But some people have questions or concerns that may hold them back from taking that step—for instance:

  • How do I know if I have a substance use disorder or addiction?
  • I don't like lying to my parents, but they don't understand me and my problems. If we talk about drugs, they’ll just yell at me. How can I avoid a fight?
  • If I talk to a doctor, I’m afraid they’ll tell my parents everything. Can I prevent that?
  • I don't feel well when I stop using drugs. Do treatment centers force people to stop taking drugs immediately?
  • If I want to ask for help, where do I start?

You don’t have to wonder. For answers to these questions and many others, check out NIDA’s “Step by Step Guide” for teens and young adults.

If you have concerns about a friend’s use of alcohol or drugs, there’s also a “Step by Step Guide” that answers questions about how you may be able to help them; and another guide for questions about an adult’s use of alcohol or drugs. All of our “Step by Step Guides” are on this page.

If you or someone you know needs help right away, you can visit the Lifeline Crisis Chat website and talk with a trained specialist about whatever is going on. It’s free, and chats are private and confidential.

Why are opioids so addictive? Find out here.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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