Drug and alcohol use is a part of life for many teens, so it’s not surprising that many youth struggle with substance abuse and even addiction.
Some teens may feel the need to use drugs in order to fit in, while others may use them to cope with emotional pain or stress. Whatever the reason, experimenting with drugs or alcohol and casual use can quickly lead to substance abuse or addiction. This happens when the substance begins to interfere negatively with that person’s daily life. Substance abuse can be overcome, and there are ways you can help your friends and yourself.
- Drug and/or alcohol use increasing
- Spends lots of time seeking out the drug or gives up other activities in order to use their drug
- Tried to quit using, but was unable to stop
- Lies about using or tries to hide behavior
- Believes drugs/ alcohol are required to have fun
(These tips can be used to help a friend in any situation.)
- Show you care.
- Talk to the person in a caring manner.
- Pick a safe, private place to talk and give yourself enough time to talk about anything that might be going on with them.
- Be specific about the warning signs you notice.
- Listen without judging, minimizing feelings or making false promises.
- Your friend might have mixed feelings about their substance use, so it’s important not to make judgments.
- Talk to a trusted adult
- This is a big deal; it’s important to have support and resources to help your friend and yourself.
If your friend is not ready to get help, don’t give up on them! Continue to provide support and let them know you care.
How to help a friend in recovery:
Recovering from addiction is an ongoing process. If your friend has received treatment and is on the road to recovery, you can help them succeed. Help your friend by being aware of situations that might trigger their substance use. Be conscious of the activities you do with your friend, and chose to go places that are drug and alcohol free. Let your friend know you support them and that you are proud of them for getting help!
Identifying: Review warning signs and be honest with yourself when answering the questions above. It can be hard to acknowledge when substance use has become a problem and even scarier when you start to feel out of control with your own usage. If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. Many people struggle with substance abuse everyday and everyday people are recovering. There is hope for you.
How to get help: Talk to a friend or adult you trust, or call Teen Link for support. Search for counseling or support services in your area – there are often services specifically for young people struggling with substance abuse.
During Recovery: Recovery is a long path. It’s easy to feel disappointed if you struggle to reach your goals, but remember that it takes time. Support groups can help you deal with your experiences during recovery with people who are going through the same thing. Avoid situations where you might be tempted to use, and seek out support whenever you are feeling distressed.
See Teen Link’s “WHERE TO TURN FOR TEENS” pamphlet for a complete list of youth-friendly services.
Teen Link Help Line
Call for assistance in figuring out what to do or just to have someone to talk to. Confidential and anonymous. Available every evening from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Toll Free: 1-866-TEENLINK (833-6546)
Washington Recovery Help Line (24 hours)
Support and resources for youth struggling with substance abuse, problem gambling, and/or mental health. Confidential and anonymous.
Toll Free: 1-866-789-1511
Greater Seattle Alateen & Alanon
Support groups for youth struggling with addiction. Meetings available in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap Counties. Visit their website for more information and a list of meetings in your area.
Call 24-Hour Hotline: (206) 625-0000
NIDA for Teens
Created by the National Institute on Drug Abuse for teens, this website has information and resources on drug and alcohol abuse.