Worried about a Friend?
What are the Possible Signs of an Alcohol or Drug Problem?
- Frequent intoxication and/or use of other drugs
- Drinking/smoking/using when alone
- Use at inappropriate times - like before class or before driving
- Skipping classes because of hangovers or activities related to use
- Missing assignments or getting significantly behind in schoolwork
- Mood changes/personality changes
- Hanging out with new friends who drink or use excessively
- Experiencing health problems like getting sick frequently, deterioration of personal hygiene
- Blacking out or passing out frequently
- Disruptive incidents including yelling, fighting, vandalism
- Drinking/using to calm nerves, forget worries or boost a sad mood
- Feeling guilty about drinking/using or their behavior while under the influence
- Lying about alcohol or drug use
- Pressuring others to use excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs
- Causing harm to oneself or someone else as a result of their use
- Showing little interest in or quitting activities they once enjoyed
- Needing to drink or use increasingly greater amounts in order to achieve desired effect
- Feeling irritable, resentful or unreasonable when not using or when unable to use
- Excessively denying they have a problem get drunk or high on a regular basis
- Unsuccessful attempts to cut down/stop drinking or using
- Borrowing or stealing money to buy alcohol or drugs
How Can I Support My Friend?
Talking to someone about a substance abuse problem can be a difficult task. Sometimes the concerns expressed by friends are just what someone needs to get help and make behavior changes.
- Know the resources available. Meet with a staff member from the Dean of Students, Residence Life, Counseling Center, Campus Ministry or Health Services. You don't have to name any names. If you explain the situation it may help you figure out how to proceed.
- Choose a good time to talk with your friend, such as after an alcohol/drug-related problem has occurred. Choose a time when he or she is sober, when you are both calm and when you can speak privately.
- Let your friend know you are concerned. Begin the conversation with your friend by letting him or her know you care, and that's why you are going to be honest. Remember to separate their behavior from them as a person. Tell the friend that you are concerned about his/her drinking/using and want to be supportive in getting help.
- Be prepared for any reaction from your friend - anger, defensiveness, denial or agreement.
- Help connect your friend with University and /or community resources.
- Offer to go with them to the Counseling Center, the Dean of Students Office or Campus Ministry.
- Be patient. It may take your friend some time to admit that he or she may have a problem. Even though they may not be ready to make a change, you will have planted a seed for the future.
- Remember that you are not alone. There are many people and resources on campus and in the community that can support your effort to help a friend.