One small piece of good news in the debacle that is the drug epidemic is that teen drug use is down. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is holding steady at the lowest levels in over two decades. 5.8 percent of 8th graders, 9.4 percent of 10th graders, and 13.3 percent of 12th graders reported using drugs in 2017. This is down from the peak rates of 13.1 percent for 8th graders and 18.4 percent for 10th graders in 1996, and 21.6 percent for 12th graders in 2001. Still, just because the problem is lessening doesn’t mean it’s gone, and if you’re a teenager you probably know someone who has at least tried drugs. You might think that you’re helpless in this situation – after all, even many adults don’t know exactly how to handle a friend’s drug use – but there are things you can do to help.
Here are some suggestions on how to talk to someone you suspect is using drugs.
- You don’t have to have all the answers; sometimes just lending an ear is enough. It’s hard for anyone to admit that they have a problem, and if your friend feels safe enough with you to talk about it, you’re already doing something right. Remember to be nonjudgmental, no matter how much you might want to question them on why they’d ever use drugs.
- Be encouraging. If your friend found the courage to talk to you, they can talk to people who are better equipped to help. See if you can convince them to talk to a teacher, school counselor, parent, or other trusted adult. If nothing else, try providing them with a phone number or an Internet address for a helpline.
- Try educating yourself and sharing what you know. You’ll know whether or not hard facts will appeal to your friend, but it’s always worth a try. There are many resources out there with statistics about drug use and information on its effects on the body and brain. If they’re under the impression that what they’re doing isn’t that harmful, or they’ll be fine because they’re young and healthy, hearing some stark facts about just what they’re doing to themselves could prove to be a good motivator.
Finally, know that not everything is within your control. You can say and do all the right things, but if someone is suffering from addiction, their mind and body are fighting a war against logic and reason. Don’t blame yourself if you feel like your words don’t make a difference. The single most important thing is letting your friend know that you’re there whenever they do want help.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.