Sober & Drug Free Zone: How to Tell Your Friend They Have a Drug Problem

Two young women in a serious conversation

Having a drug problem is a very difficult problem to overcome. It seems even more difficult to confront the problem if it is not yours. Discussing or telling a friend they have a drug problem can be challenging. The only thing you want for them is the best, but you do not want to push them away. Worse, they could be ruining their career, family life, or relationships. In very disturbing cases, they could become a financial disaster for all those around them. Drug abuse does not simply affect the individual who suffers from addiction; rather, all of those around them are affected. Many drug abusers do not see or believe they have a problem; therefore, it is the responsibility of the friends to confront them. While it may seem difficult to do, it must be done because friends may very well save another’s life.

Drug Problem

The very first thing to do before confronting a friend about a drug problem is to make sure they have a problem. There is a difference between drug and alcohol use and drug and alcohol abuse. Drug and alcohol use is neither good nor bad, unless they are using illicit drugs and can cause legal troubles. It is important to make sure they have a problem. Drug or alcohol abuse is the act of using drugs and alcohol excessively. The use of alcohol and drugs becomes abuse when the use endangers the health and safety of the individual using drugs and all those around them. If this is the case, then it is important to watch and even document your friend’s actions for a few weeks.

Keep Information

Before confronting your friend, it is important to keep all the information that is gathered from watching your friend. It can also be beneficial to have friends and family do the same thing. It is important to have all the information necessary before confronting your friend about their problem. You should prepare information based on the problems that are occurring from their abuse, as well as the treatment options that are available for them.


After all the necessary information is gathered, it is time to confront your friend. The voice and temperament you use play a key role in how they are received. When talking to your friend about drug or alcohol abuse, you should be using a non-judgmental voice. By attacking or accusing them, you could drive them further away. Alcohol and drug abusers must feel cared for and that they have people they can lean on. Recovering from drug or alcohol abuse can be very difficult, so it is important that friends feel they have the support necessary to get through recovery.


It is important to let your friend know what you expect from them and what you are willing to do for them. Make a firm statement on your commitment to seeing them get help and what you will do can help them accept rehabilitation. Equally important to making this statement is that you stick to what you have said. By bending or tweaking the commitment that has been made, friends and family can become enablers.


After your friend knows what you think and believe concerning their alcohol and drug abuse, it is essential for you to be the example. Set the right example for someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. If you let them know how you feel and then go on to continue using drugs and alcohol around them, then they cannot get better.


After you have gone through all of these steps, it is time to get them the help they need to get better. At the intervention, friends and family will present the drug or alcohol abuser with the ways his/her abuse has affected them. They will also present them with treatment and program options. Finally, during and after treatment friends should give the abuser all the support they require. A crucial part of recovery is having people around the patient so that they do not feel alone or isolated.



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