How to Help a Friend

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Have you ever been worried about a friend's substance use?  You are not alone.  And it's not easy.  The following tips can provide some ideas on how to express your concern to someone you care about.
  1. Start with "I".  Using an I statement to approach your loved one can help to prevent them from becoming defensive. "I care about your and I am really worried about your drinking."  " I notice you've been drinking more than usual lately. What's going on?"
  2. Gather resources.  Before talking with your friend, gather campus and community resources so that you can help direct your friend to those if they are ready.
  3. Avoid "should".  Try to be non-judgmental and avoid telling them what they should or should not be doing.  Dont say this:  "You should just quit drinking."
  4. Focus on health and well-being rather than morality.  Keep in mind that good people sometimes make unhealthy decisions.
  5. Ask questions.  "How do you think your drinking might be affecting your well-being?"
  6. Find a private place to discuss your concerns.
  7. Let go.  Realize that neither you, nor anyone else, can MAKE another person do anything, even if the situation appears dire.
  8. Support them.  Let them know that you can help them get an appointment with mental health or substance use treatment professionals.  But remember you can't fix them.
  9. Consult the professionals.  Health Promotion and Counseling Services can help you prepare for these tough conversations.  
  10. Be sure you are both sober when you talk.

More resources: