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.