When you are supporting a friend or loved one that is using drugs, it can be very difficult for you emotionally. It is important that you do not take on the responsibility of trying to do everything on your own. It takes a community to help the people we love recover from substance use disorder, so take time to identify a list of trusted adults to speak to for assistance. This type of conversation is uncomfortable, so preparation can make it easier, and the adults you trust can guide you.

 It is helpful to read some materials about addiction. This will increase your knowledge on the subject and can also help prevent blaming your loved one.

Practice in the mirror, or with the trusted individual you have identified, a few times to get comfortable with what you are going to say.

Try to use strength-based wording to encourage them. For example, don’t call them an addict. Instead you can say addiction is a medical condition that affects the brain.  

When talking to your friend or loved one, try to ask questions and listen closely to them. Restate what they say in your own words so they feel comfortable that they are being heard and not judged.

Be sure that the individual is sober when you have this conversation with them.

Tell them that you are concerned about their health and let them know that you are here to support them.

Choose a time when all parties involved are in a comfortable and private setting to have this discussion.

You can start out by discussing how you value the relationship you have with them. Explain that you have noticed a change in their behavior when you are together and list them. Express your concern about them. Then ask if they have been having difficulty with using drugs.

For additional support, teens can also visit Alateen, a support group for younger family members and friends of individuals with substance use disorder. 


Alateen: Al-Anon Family Groups. (2019, May 14). Retrieved from https://al-anon.org/for-members/group-resources/alateen/

Bellum, S. (2010, July 20). Real Teens Ask: How Can I Help My Friend? Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-how-can-i-help-my-friend

Experts, K. H. B. H. (Ed.). (n.d.). Dealing With Addiction (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/addictions.html

How to Help a Friend. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://abovetheinfluence.com/how-to-help/