You Said It: “I Have Tried To Help a Friend Stop Using Drugs”

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“You Said It” is a periodic series based on real teens’ answers to the NIDA for Teens poll questions. Check out our current poll on the NIDA for Teens homepage.

Drug use among teens is mostly down. But some teens are still choosing to use drugs, sometimes with deadly consequences.

If you have a friend who’s using drugs or alcohol, have you thought about trying to help your friend to stop or to get help? If you answered “Yes,” you’re not alone. In response to our recent poll question, 31 percent of teens agreed with the statement, “I have tried to help a friend stop using drugs.”

It’s natural and admirable to want to help a person you care about. Often, the most helpful thing you can do is just listen to your friend and show you care. You can also talk to a trusted adult for advice.

Sometimes, you might have to step away from the friendship for a while to protect your own health. For example, you should not be expected to join friends at parties where drugs are available, just so you can keep an eye on them or drive them home. 

In all this, it’s important to remember that it’s ultimately up to your friend to get help, with support from the adults in your friend's life. This isn’t a burden you can or should handle. You probably have enough teenage issues of your own to deal with.

Your support can be helpful, for sure. But you can’t force your friend to talk about what’s going on, acknowledge having a drug or alcohol problem, or get help. It’s not your fault if those things don’t happen. That may sound obvious, but it can be easy to forget when a friend’s health is involved.

Remembering what’s in your control—and what isn’t—can help you to care about others and stay mentally healthy yourself.

If it looks like your friend could be at risk for serious trouble, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, talk to an adult you trust immediately. If your friend feels unable to talk to a parent, suggest contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This will connect your friend with people who can help.

Learn more: How to get help if you or a friend is feeling suicidal.

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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