If your friend is experimenting with drugs or struggling with addiction, you may rightfully be concerned. Addiction – whether it’s to prescription painkillers, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens, opioids, inhalants, or any other substance – can wreak havoc on their mind and body and cause irreparable damage to their short- and long-term health. Substance abuse can also cause other consequences: get your friend kicked out of school, cause problems in their relationships, and get them into serious trouble with the law.
But is there anything you can do to make your friend stop using drugs?
What to Do If Your Friend is Using Drugs
Here are some ways you can help support your friend, with several tips adapted from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
- Determine the extent of their drug use. Is your friend just occasionally experimenting with drugs, or is he or she severely addicted? While both are dangerous, addiction requires more immediate attention. Listen nonjudgmentally while your friend is talking, but remember not to condone or validate their substance abuse.
- Share information. In a non-accusatory way, talk about the potential harm your friend’s drug of choice is inflicting. You can email or text your friend articles about the dangers of drug abuse and the specific ways it harms the body. You can also share some inspirational social media profiles of recovered addicts with your friend. This might encourage your friend to take the plunge into recovery, too.
- Encourage your friend to get help. Ultimately the best type of support you can give is to get your friend professional help. Tell your friend about teen drug rehab programs near them, or dual diagnosis treatment centers for adolescents. While it may seem scary to seek treatment for drug use, professional treatment for addiction has the highest chances of success. Give your friend a list of phone numbers for teen substance abuse treatment programs nearby.
- Tell an adult about your friend. If you feel that your friend’s substance abuse is putting them in danger, tell a trusted adult. It could be your friend’s parent, your mom or dad, the school guidance counselor, or even a teacher at school.
Check Yourself, Too
When you have a friend using drugs, you need to make sure you’re thinking of yourself at the same time. Sometimes, a friend who is using drugs may unintentionally (or intentionally) bring others down with them. You need to make sure you have the internal strength to stay strong if and when your friend tries to convince you to use drugs or offers you the chance to experiment with drugs. Though helping your friend is important, what’s more important is protecting yourself. Give a vehement and strong no when your friend pushes you to use drugs. However, if you find that it’s getting difficult to stay close to them while still protecting yourself, consider spending time with other friends who might be better influences.