SUU Health and Wellness Program

How to Help a Friend Whose Drinking is Concerning

Step 1 - Prepare

  • Learn more about alcohol abuse. You may want to speak to a professional on campus or in the surrounding community who can help you plan for what to say and how to say it. Also, gather information about local resources that are available to support those in recovery.
  • Gather a list of incidents when your friend's drinking has concerned you. For example, last Monday your friend stayed up all night partying and drinking when he/she had an exam at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
  • Choose an appropriate location and time. A private location where you will not be interrupted is best. Also, make sure your friend is sober; it is impossible to reason with a person who is intoxicated. Talking to your friend a day or two after your friend has been drinking irresponsibly may make more of an impact than many days later.

Step 2 - Have a Discussion

  • Let your friend know that you care. Explain to them how you feel about their alcohol use. For example, "You act like a different person when you are drinking and this is hurting our friendship." Keep the discussion focused on your observations and do not use second-hand information such as, "I heard that you insulted so-and-so while drinking."
  • Tell them how their drinking is affecting you and use "I" statements to explain. For example, "I find it difficult to be around you when you have been drinking."
  • List the negative effects that you have seen alcohol have on your friend's life. These areas may include: alcohol-related health problems, blackouts, or memory loss, poor grades, missing class/work, consequences with the law (MIPs, DUIs, etc.) or declining relationships with family and friends.
  • Expect denial. Chances are it will not be easy for your friend to admit that he/she has a problem with alcohol. Admitting this can be shameful so make sure that you affirm your friend's positive attributes. Be prepared to talk with your friend multiple times if they deny their is a problem.

Step 3 - Present Options

  • Even if your friend does not admit that they have a problem right away, it is important to give them options.
    1. Give them a list of campus and community recovery resources that you have gathered.
    2. Offer to go with them to see a counselor at the SUU Counseling and Psychological Services, or be willing to go with them to an AA or 12-step meeting with them.
    3. Reassure your friend that you care and they can come to you for help.