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Signs of Trouble

If your friend has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problem with alcohol or other drugs:
  • getting drunk or high on drugs on a regular basis
  • lying about things, or about how much alcohol or other drugs he or she is using
  • avoiding you in order to get drunk or high
  • giving up activities he or she used to do, such as sports, homework, or hanging out with friends who don't drink or use other drugs
  • planning drinking in advance, hiding alcohol, drinking or using other drugs alone
  • having to drink more to get the same high
  • believing that in order to have fun you need to drink or use other drugs
  • frequent hangovers
  • pressuring others to drink or use other drugs
  • taking risks, including sexual risks
  • having "blackouts" - forgetting what he or she did the night before while drinking (if you tell your friend what happened, he or she might pretend to remember, or laugh it off as no big deal)
  • feeling run-down, hopeless, depressed, or even suicidal
  • sounding selfish and not caring about others
  • constantly talking about drinking or using other drugs
  • getting in trouble with the law
  • drinking and driving
  • suspension from school for an alcohol or other drug-related incidents

What can I do to help my friend?

  • Contact your school counselor and/or parent for additional support and help with the problem.
  • Make sure the timing is right. Talk to your friend when he or she is sober or straight.
  • Never accuse your friend of being an alcoholic or a drug addict, but do express your concern. Try not to blame your friend for the problem; if you do, he or she might be turned off right away.
  • Talk about your feelings. Tell your friend you are worried, and how it feels for you to see him or her drunk or under the influence of other drugs.
  • Tell your friend what you have seen him or her do when drinking or using other drugs. Give specific examples. Tell your friend you want to help.
  • Speak in a caring and understanding tone of voice, not with pity but with friendship.
  • Be prepared for denial and anger. Your friend may say there is nothing wrong and may get mad at you. Many people with alcohol and other drug problems react this way. When confronted, many users will defend their use, blame others for the problem, or give excuses for why they drink or use other drugs.
  • Find out where help is available. You could offer to go with your friend to get help, but be prepared to follow through. This gesture will show your friend that you really care.
  • You need to tell your friend that you are worried about him or her, and that someone who can help needs to be told. Your friend might get mad at you, but if you say nothing, things may get worse and your friend may be in more danger.


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