Center for Alcohol and Related Issues Education


How to Help a Friend

Ask yourself...

How does it affect you?

  • Have you lost time from classes, studying, or a job in order to help your friend cope with problems caused by her drinking or drug use?
  • Is your friend's drinking or drug use making you unhappy in any aspect of your life?
  • Is your friend's behavior affecting your reputation in a way you don't like?
  • Have you ever felt embarrassed or hurt by something your friend said or did while intoxicated? Have there been outbursts of anger or irritability?
  • Have you ever had to take care of your friend because of his/ her alcohol or drug use?

How does it affect your friend?

  • Does your friend drink in order to get drunk?
  • Are drugs or alcohol affecting your friend's academic performance?
  • Does your friend drink to escape from or to cope with problems or stress?
  • Does your friend find it necessary to drink or get high in order to enjoy a party?
  • Does your friend deny drinking or drink alone?
  • Does your friend have or cause major problems Ėwith authorities, family or friends?
  • Has your friend ever wanted to cut down on drinking or drug use?
  • Does your friend ever drink to steady his nerves or to get rid of a hangover?
  • Has your friend ever been unable to remember things she said or did while drinking (blacked out)?
  • Is your friend annoyed when people criticize his drinking?
  • Have you noticed a decline in personal health or appearance?

If you have answered yes to some of these questions whatís the next step?

Before you talk to your friend

  • You can talk to a professional in Counseling Services confidentially to discuss how the situation is affecting you and also explore ways to approach your friend about your concern with their alcohol/drug use.  
  • Choose a private location where you can talk without interruption.
  • Prepare a list of specific problems that have occurred because of your friend's drinking or drug use. Keep these items as concrete as possible.

How to talk to your friend

  • Talk to your friend when he/she is sober.
  • Let them know you care and that you are worried. Let your friend know you support them.
  • Restrict your comments to what you feel and what you have experienced of your friend's behavior. Avoid generalizations like, "Everyone's disgusted with you."
  • Emphasize the difference between sober behavior that you like and drinking behavior that you dislike. "You are such a kind person, but when you drink you become angry.Ē
  • Encourage your friend to consult with a professional to talk about his/her alcohol use. You can direct them to Counseling Services to speak with a professional and as additional support; offer to accompany them to the appointment.

What NOT to do

  • Avoid blaming, arguing, sermons, lectures and verbal attacks.
  • Keep an open mind about how your friend evaluates his/her situation. And know your own limits. Donít continue the discussion if you start feeling impatient or angry.  You may find short periodic discussions work best.
  • Donít be manipulated into hiding or dumping alcohol. Protecting or lying for your friend will not work. It enables your friend to continue inappropriate or destructive behavior.

*References:   American College Health Association
                           Brown University

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