Young Adults and Alcohol/Drug Abuse — How to Help

| August 9, 2013

How To Help A Friend

Reference: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

What should I do if one of my friends is using drugs? What should I tell him to convince him to stop?

There are many ways to help and support your friend, but in the end, it will need to be your friend’s decision. Sometimes our friends won’t appreciate advice they don’t want to hear – especially if they are using drugs. Telling the truth to help someone close to you is part of being a real friend, even when it’s hard to do.
Here are a few ways that you can help:

  • Find out if your friend is experimenting with drugs, or if he may be addicted. Neither one is good,but you may need more support if your friend is addicted.
  • Understand that addiction is a brain disease. Just like you wouldn’t expect someone with cancer to be able to heal herself without the help of a doctor, the right treatment, and support from family and friends, you can’t expect your friend to heal herself.
  • Know that it is never easy for anyone to admit that they have a drug problem. You will need to be patient and not give up easily.
  • Listen. If he talks to you, just be there for him. Admitting a problem – never mind talking to someone about it – is really hard. Listen to what he has to say about his drug use without making judgments.
  • Encourage. Suggest that she talk to an adult she trusts – a coach or teacher, a school counselor, a relative, or a doctor.
  • Share. Maybe your friend doesn’t see his or her drug use as a bad thing. However, plenty of real, scientific information about what drugs can do to a person is readily available. Once your friend understands how drugs affect the brain, body, and life, it might open their eyes.
  • Inform. When he’s ready to make a change and seek treatment, help him find a doctor, therapist, support group, or treatment program. Check out for services in Lane County.
  • Support. Don’t give up on your friend, even if she isn’t ready to get help. Keep reaching out. Encourage them to get treatment, and support them along the way – that’s the best way to help someone you care about who is struggling with addiction.
  • It’s tough having a friend with addiction issues. So get some support for you if you need it.

What To Say:

  • Just telling your friend that you’re concerned can be a big help. Your friend may not want to talk about it, and the effects that drugs have on the brain may keep him or her from “hearing” you or acting on your advice.
  • Assure your friend you are there for her and that she is not alone. People with drug problems have often have gotten in with the wrong crowd, and they don’t want to turn away from these “friends” for fear of being alone.
  • Suggest that he or she speak to a trusted adult who will keep it confidential. Maybe there’s a family friend who could help.
  • Turn to a professional for immediate help if the problem looks to be too big for you to handle alone, or if you’re worried your friend may have suicidal thoughts that she could act on.
  • Use or call 800-662-HELP to tap into a support network where you can find immediate and confidential help 24/7. They will also be able to direct you to local treatment options.

When the people we care about make bad choices, it can be frustrating, confusing, and a little depressing. Still, we should be there for our friends, and also try to be a good role models for them by making smart choices ourselves.

Getting help:

Click here for helplines in Lane County

12-step programs available in Lane County, 24/7:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous – 541-342-4113
  • Narcotics Anonymous – 541-345-8207
  • Al-Anon (for loved ones of the addicted person) – 541-741-2841


Category: Alcohol, Getting Help, Young Adults - Other Drugs

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