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Friends Who Use Alcohol or Other Drugs

How can I help my friend who is using?

Discussing a friend's alcohol or other drug use isn't an easy thing to do. People with drug problems usually defend their use or make excuses. It can be hard for people to admit to themselves that they have a problem.You may feel a lot of pressure to get your friend to stop, or you may get totally discouraged if your friend doesn’t listen to you.

  • Be Discreet. No one likes to be called out in front of others. Wait until the right time and place to have this talk. It's best not to start the conversation if they're high, angry or upset. And afterwards, keep the details of your conversation private.
  • Plan What to Say. You may want to reference some specifics like if your friend skips class, takes stupid risks or is frequently hungover. Tell him or her that you're concerned and that's why you want to talk. If you are nervous about talking with him, ask another friend who knows the situation if you can practice with him or her, to help work out ahead of time what you are going to say. You may want to have a hotline number that your friend can call for confidential help.
  • Listen. After you finish talking, ask your friend what he or she thinks – and listen. It's critical that you hear what your friend's saying so you can offer to help. But you shouldn't feel like you have to personally solve your friend's problem – there are professional counselors who can hel.
  • Keep At It. Talking to your friend about drugs may be a continuous process – not a one-time event – so you may want to check in with him or her from time to time. You may want to recommend that your friend talk to a counselor – and have a hotline number ready.

It’s not your fault! Remember, your friend’s drug or alcohol use is not your fault. It's up to him or her to stop using.

Call for help! Remember to never put yourself in a dangerous situation while trying to help and don’t get yourself in trouble. If you think that your friend is in immediate danger, such as having suicidal thoughts, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if he/she passes out or becomes unresponsive from taking something (overdoses), you should definitely call 911 and also talk with a trusted adult or call a help hotline.

Using alcohol or other drugs regularly is usually just a step away from addiction. Addiction is a chronic, treatable brain disease that affects people of all ages, religions, cultures, and levels of education and income. Addiction is when you depend on these substances to feel good or get through your day.  The majority of people that are dependent on alcohol or other drugs started using before they were 20 years old. The adolescent brain still has a lot of developing to do and this makes their brain more susceptible to addiction.