Wellness Center

How to Help a Friend

Alcohol & Other Drugs Information

This page includes the following topics on alcohol and drug use:

Does my friend have an alcohol or drug use problem?

It's never easy to tell a friend, roommate, or partner that they have a problem…but isn't that what a friend would do?

Yet, many students experience consequences as a result of their drinking:

  • Did something they later regretted
  • Forgot where they were or what they did
  • Missed a class
  • Got into an argument or fight
  • Performed poorly on a test or project
  • Had trouble with the police or with campus officials

Or as a result of using drugs, such as marijuana:

  • Problems with concentration, thinking, sensory and time perception
  • Impaired skills related to attention, memory and learning 24 hours after using
  • Missed or forgot to go to work or class
  • Performed poorly on a test or project
  • Had trouble with the police or with campus officials

In this section, you will find information on how to recognize a problem and some suggestions on how to have a talk to a friend. You may even find yourself in need of help or someone to talk to.


What are the signs of problem drinking or use of drugs?

Does your friend seem like a different person when they drink or get high? Maybe they have been letting you down lately and you think it's connected to their alcohol or drug use. Or maybe some of the things they do when drunk or high are just scary. This can be a difficult situation to deal with, and sometimes the situation gets worse before it gets better. Don't make excuses. Talk to your friend.

If your friend does one or more of the following, you should talk to them.

If they:

  • Gets drunk or high on a regular basis.
  • Drinks or smokes/uses when they are alone.
  • Shows up at class still drunk/high or has skipped class to use.
  • Needs alcohol or other drugs to have a good time or cope with everyday life.
  • Plans for alcohol/drug use in advance.
  • Starts hanging out with new friends who drinks or uses excessively with them or can obtain alcohol or drugs for them.
  • Lies about alcohol or drug use.
  • Pressures others to use excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs.
  • Has broken plans with you, or showed up late, because they were getting drunk or high.
  • Shows little interest in or quits sports or activities they once enjoyed.
  • Has driven a car while drunk or high.
  • Borrows or steals money to buy alcohol or drugs.

If your friend doesn't exactly fit any of these, but you feel like they are headed in the wrong direction, you can ask for help. You don't have to wait for it to get worse.


Seeking Help for a Friend

Chances are if you friend is drinking or using marijuana too frequently, you already know it. If you are concerned about a friend or family member, you can help by providing support for that individual to change their behavior in a positive way.

Consider suggesting that you think they should cut back. If they refuse or just laugh it off, you can ask them to take some time to think about it. If they find cutting back is not easy, you may want to suggest that they seek outside help. Do not hesitate to seek help for a friend. If you are concerned, there is probably a good reason for feeling that way. Ask for help on campus, by using these resources.