I’m worried about my mate’s drug use

I’m worried about my mate’s drug use

How do you know if your mate needs support for alcohol or other drug use?

Most people who use alcohol or other drugs won’t experience any serious issues – and for those who do – the signs aren’t always obvious.1

But, sometimes there’s a few hints that your mate’s drug use is having an effect on their everyday life.

Know the signs so you can support them if they need help.

What are some potential signs?

Are they:

  • late to work or missing work?
  • not turning up when you go out?
  • missing training?
  • not responding to messages?
  • always asking to lend money?
  • having relationship or family issues?2

Maybe they’ve already spoken to you more directly about it, and said things like:

  • they’ve been drinking or using drugs more
  • they need more and more of a drug to get the same effect
  • they’ve been using drugs or alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

They might also have family members or other friends who are concerned about them. 

In fact, often it’s family and friends who first recognise that a person they care about has an alcohol or other drug issue.3

How do I talk to a mate who’s struggling with alcohol or drugs?

Many of the issues listed above can happen for reasons other than drug use, so don’t jump to conclusions. 

But, if you do want to have a chat with your mate, these tips can help.

  • Plan a good time to chat when you won’t be interrupted.
  • Focus on their wellbeing and what you’ve noticed, rather than their use of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Be ready for a negative reaction. Your mate might not see their alcohol or drug use as something to be concerned about.
  • Avoid appearing judgemental or lecturing – we’re all less likely to respond positively to this approach.
  • Offer options for support – we’ve provided some good ones below.
  • If they’re not interested, let them know you’re there if they change their mind or ever want to talk.3, 4

Becoming dependent on alcohol or other drugs can happen to anyone. 

It can be very difficult to stop once your body and mind start relying on the substance to function properly.3

A great first step for someone concerned about their substance use is to talk to someone they trust, or reach out to a support service.

Even if your mate does get in touch with treatment or support, your role as a support person doesn’t have to end. 

There are a number of ways you can continue to stick by them while they attempt to make a change. Read more about supporting someone through recovery.

Where can I go for help or support?

headspace – 1800 650 890
Specialises in engaging young people aged 12-25 with concerns relating to mental health, physical health, alcohol and other drugs, or work and study support. 

National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline – 1800 888 236
24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone in Australia wishing to discuss an alcohol or drug-related issue regarding themselves or a friend/family member.

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