Keeping our Teens Drug and Alcohol Free

When Your Child’s Friend Uses Alcohol or Other Drugs: What Can You Say and Do?

Dr. Beth Fishman and Alyssa Robbins from JCFS Chicago The odds are your child will be exposed to alcohol or other drug use in social settings or at a friend’s house. It’s never too early to start conversations around alcohol and drug misuse, especially with the threat of unintentional fentanyl poisoning on our minds.

Talking to your child openly and often about alcohol and other drugs can build trust through an honest dialogue. Here are some examples of what you can say and do when they are concerned about a friend misusing alcohol or other drugs.

Sympathize with the challenge of caring for their friend.
“I know you care a lot about your friend and are scared for them. It’s hard to accept that you can’t control or cure their drug use. It’s hard to know what to do.”

“No one should try to help alone.”
“Helping someone who is in trouble with drugs is a bigger job than one person can handle. By telling an adult, you are getting them the help they need.”

Suggest that your child tell you or another trusted adult what they’ve seen, or have them contact a support line like Text-A-Tip. They can also contact JCFS Chicago Access for treatment and support resources.

“Drug use is dangerous and can go badly fast.”
“You are being a good friend by telling them you are concerned. Good friends look out for each other’s safety.”

Help them find the words to express their concern to their friend.

They can say, “We’ve been friends a long time and I care about you. I’m really worried about you and what you’re doing these days. Can I help you get help?”

Boundaries are good and keep your child safe.
“You have the right to set boundaries with a friend who is using by choosing not to be with them at those times.”

It’s important to start age-appropriate conversations early with your child so they have the skills and confidence to cope when faced with a friend in a troubling situation.

Beth Fishman, PhD, Program Manager, JCFS Chicago Addiction Services

Alyssa Robbins, MPH, Manager Outreach and Community Education,
JCFS Chicago Response For Teens