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Help Your Friends

Using drugs may be a hard “no” for you, but what about a friend? It’s likely someone you know has considered using drugs or is using. Talking to them could save their life.

Talking to a friend could save their life

This isn’t a one-size fits all conversation, but here are some tips that may help you get started:

Before You Talk

Do Some Homework.

Right time, right place.

Make sure you have enough time to talk. Try not to talk after a long day at school or when your friend is under a lot of pressure. If your friend is high, wait until they’re sober to bring it up. Choose a place where you both feel comfortable and without a lot of distractions.

Write it out.

Having conversations like this can be hard. Taking a few minutes ahead of time to think through and even write out what you’re going to say can make a huge difference.

Starting the Conversation

Keep it simple.

Make it a conversation, not a lecture and let your friend know that you’re concerned about them.

“You’ve got a lot going on right now and I want you to know I’m here for you.”

“The last few weeks you haven’t been yourself and I want to check in to see if everything is ok.”

Give examples.

It’s not uncommon for someone to get defensive if they’re asked about using drugs, especially if they’ve been trying to hide it from others. It can help to provide specific examples of what you’ve seen and noticed that has caused you to be concerned.

“Last night at practice, your eyes were glazed over, and you seemed kind of out of it.”

“It sounded like your words were slurring in that voice text you sent.”

Ask open-ended questions.

Ask questions that don’t just have a yes or no answer.

“I know you’ve had a few drinks in the past when you wanted to chill, what’s it been like lately when you drink?”

“I know with everything going on, it might feel like you want to escape. What have you been doing to try to cope?”

Really listen.

Listening shows you care and builds trust. And really listening means trying to understand what your friend is going through so you can better support them. Sometimes that looks like asking questions to make sure you’re understanding them correctly.

“You’ve been going through a lot lately. And it sounds like the only way you’ve been able to deal with all the pressure you’re under has been using. Did I get that right?”

“I get it. Your break up has been hard, and it feels like using is the only way to forget about it.”

Offer support.

Let your friend know you’re there for them and that even though things are hard right now, they can get better. Rather than tell them what to do, ask them what they think they should do and what help they might be open to.

“Should we talk to your parent or someone else you trust? I know that might seem scary, but I can go with you, if it helps.”

Talking about your concerns doesn’t always work the first time. Your friend may feel scared or embarrassed. They might even get mad and say you don’t know what you’re talking about. If so, take a deep breath and try to keep things calm. Remind them how much you care and want them to be ok. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help for you. It can be really hard to watch someone struggle with alcohol or other drugs and increasing your support system may also help you support your friend.

If your friend has passed out or is not responding after using drugs, call 911 immediately.

Know the Signs of an Overdose

Very sleepy
Small pupils
Changes in the appearance of their skin
Trouble breathing
Nausea and vomiting
Increased heart rate
Chest pains
Aggressive behavior
Increased anxiety and depression
Paranoid thoughts