If You Need Help
If you recognize you have a problem, you’ve already taken the first step! Once you have the desire and determination to make a change, it’s time to take the second step—reaching out for help.
If you’re ready for help, reach out to your parents or guardians. If, for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to reach out to them, there are other people you can reach out to for help. Go to someone you feel comfortable with, tell them what’s wrong and you’re ready to make things better.
You may want to reach out to one of the following people:
- School counselor, teacher, nurse, social worker or resource officer
- Sports coach
- Pediatrician or doctor
- Family friend, relative or trusted adult
If you don’t want to go to someone you know to talk to, you can go directly to professional organizations that have staff trained specifically to help you, listed below.
If You Want to Help Someone
Recognize Some of the Signs of Drug Use and Abuse:
- Bloodshot or watery eyes, pupils smaller or larger than normal
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Losing or gaining weight, no appetite
- Sleeping all the time
- Looking messy; unusual smells on breath, body or clothing
- Unexplained injuries
- Shakes, tremors, slurred speech, sweaty or shaky hands
- Runny nose, persistent cough, nausea, vomiting
- Skips classes, work, or sports practices. Misses meetings and grades drop.
- Needs cash
- Gets into trouble
- Changes in friends and relationships. Complaints from friends, classmates, co-workers, teammates
- Personality changes. Unusually quiet, withdrawn. Irritable, cranky all the time. Argues, moody, paranoid.
- Lack of interest in anything
- Secretive behavior, lying, stealing
Who You Can Reach Out to for Assistance
- School counselor, nurse, social worker or teacher
- Pediatrician or doctor
- Sports coach
- Family friend, relative or trusted adult
If You Decide to Talk to Them Directly
- Make sure you are ready before you have the talk
- Don’t have the talk when the person is high
- Don’t have the talk when you or the other person is angry
- Talk about what you have seen—how they’ve been acting
- Have some examples of why you are concerned
- Remember this is about the person’s well-being
- Keep calm, be direct, don't judge
- Focus on the person’s behavior, not the person
When you’re ready, reach out to them to let them know you are concerned and that you’d like to see them get help. This is called an intervention.
What do we mean by “intervention”?
- An intervention is when family members and friends confront a person in a non-threatening way to help them get help with his/her problem
- It can be as simple as a chat where you share your feelings about what you see happening
- When you talk to the person about your concerns, let them know that you care about them and are concerned they are hurting themselves
- Realize that talking to someone about their drug use isn’t easy. People who have drug problems usually get angry—and defend their use or make excuses for it.
- They may not want to hear how their behavior has affected others
- You might be worried they will be mad at you—but if you really think that they have a problem and need help, you should say something.
The main reason for an intervention is to ask the person you care about to get the help they need. The sooner an intervention takes place, the better the chances are of preventing serious problems.
These resources provide below have detailed information about interventions and treatment and how to get the help needed.
Websites on Intervention and Treatment
All Treatment: Teen Addiction Treatment
Use this site to find substance abuse treatment centers specifically for teens in your area.
National Intervention Referral, 1-800-399-3612, provides intervention services for families and persons struggling with addiction and other forms of crisis. You can contact the staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for help and get referrals for treatment.
Above the Influence is a teen website that focuses on helping teens deal with the negative pressures or influences on their lives, by giving them the facts so they can make their own decisions.
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provides resources for families to prevent and cope with teen drug and alcohol abuse, and includes resources on intervention.
HBO Addiction Project is produced by HBO and provides information about addiction and treatment.
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) provides assistance to those who need help and guidance confronting alcohol or drug dependence.
Behavioral Treatment Services Locator, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is an online resource for persons seeking treatment facilities for substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental health problems.
National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center (NASAIC) keeps a listing of drug and alcohol treatment centers for every level of treatment. You can call, live chat, or fill out a contact form to talk with staff who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Substance Abuse Helplines
These resources have trained staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who you can talk to in confidence. They can direct you to local organizations that can help you take that next step.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) is a confidential, 24 hour, 7 days a week information service, available in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing drug and mental health issues. The service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community based organizations.
National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Center (NASAIC), 1-800-784-6776 has a listing of drug and alcohol treatment centers for every level of treatment. You can call, live chat or fill out a contact form to talk with staff who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Intervention Referral, 1-800-399-3612, is a resource to use when looking for information on and help with interventions with alcohol and drug problems. You can contact the trained staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to talk with them about the intervention process and to get treatment referrals.
Boys Town National Hotline, 1-800-448-300, is a resource and referral hotline staffed by trained counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who respond to questions about family and school problems, pregnancy, suicide, chemical dependency, and sexual and physical abuse. They also have a chat room.
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), 1-800-NCA-CALL (622-2255), NCADD provides assistance to those who need help and guidance confronting alcohol or drug dependence, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Crisis Text Line—Text “Listen” to 741-741, is similar to a traditional hotline in that teens are connected to trained counselors, but instead of talking, you text. They provide assistance for any type of crisis, and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a confidential, 24 hour, 7 days a week suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The Lifeline’s national network of local crisis centers provides counseling and mental health referrals.
S.A.F.E. Alternatives, 1-800-DONTCUT (366-8288). Self-injury is known by many names, including self-abuse, cutting, self-mutilation, or deliberate self-harm. S.A.F.E. Alternatives is a national group that provides counseling, treatment referrals, and resources if you need help.
National Eating Disorders Association, 1-800-931-2237, provides a toll-free helpline to connect people with resources, information, or referrals to national and local treatment providers.
The Covenant House, 1-800-999-9999, has experience in dealing with homeless and runaway youth. They provide assistance for homeless youth 17-21 years of age, with crisis shelters open 24 hours a day with a hot meal, warm bed and other assistance in a safe environment.
National Dating Abuse Helpline, 1-866-331-9474, is a 24 hour resource designed for teens and young adults to offer real-time, one on one support to those involved in dating abuse relationships.
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. It works with over 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. There is also a National Sexual Assault Hotline, which provides confidential help to victims of sexual violence, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.