<< Faded at 14—till I said no

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Look for these warning signs of substance abuse:
• Getting drunk or high on a regular basis
• Avoiding you in order to get drunk or high
• Giving up on activities he or she used to do, such as sports, homework, or hanging out with friends who don’t drink or use drugs
• Pressuring others to drink or use drugs
• Taking risks, including risky sexual behavior
• Getting into trouble in school or with the police
• Feeling run-down, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal
• Believing that in order to have fun he or she needs to drink or use drugs
• Having "blackouts"—forgetting what he or she did the night before while drinking
• Having to drink more or use more of the drug to reach the same effects as before

How you can help

Alcohol and drug addictions are very serious problems, so the best thing to do is talk to an adult you trust before talking to your friend. You can talk to a parent, teacher, older brother or sister, coach, religious leader, or another trusted adult. These people can provide you with information about what is happening to your friend and may be able to steer you in the right direction to help your friend get treatment.

Remember, it is up to your friend to take your advice and seek help for the problem. You cannot force him or her into treatment, and you can’t hold yourself responsible if he or she decides not to listen to you. When confronting your friend with the problem, you run the risk of losing the friendship. But it may be better to take that chance than to watch him or her self-destruct. When talking to your friend about the problem, you might find it helpful to give brochures and related information about addiction and how to get help.

For more info call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1 (800) 729-6686.