There could be a problem if:
- You can’t remember the last time his/her weekend didn’t involve drinking.
- You often find yourself having to get this friend home from parties or bars. Sometimes cleaning up his/her vomit in your car.
- Your friend calls you the next day to find out what he/she did and said the night before.
Is it really something to worry about?
Levels of drinking can range from social to total dependence. Everyone is affected differently by alcohol. Won’t your friend just grow out of it as he/she gets older? Why does this have to be your problem anyway?
Trust your feelings. Don’t wait until your friend ends up in the hospital or worse to bring it up.
Some signs that might point to a serious problem:
- Plans drinking in advance or drinks alone
- Drinking is interfering with grades, job, friendships, extra-curricular activities, etc.
- Frequent hangovers
- Pressures others to drink
- Has blackouts and asks about what he or she did the night before or pretends to know and laughs it off
- Drinks to the point of getting sick and or passing out
- Takes risks when drunk (fights, drives, has unprotected sex, etc.)
- Gets in trouble with the law
- Lies about things like how much alcohol he or she has had and/or or becomes defensive when you question him or her about it.
- Seems to need more and more alcohol to get the same effect (or brags about tolerance level)
What can you do about it?
Talk about your concerns. Most people with serious alcohol problems don’t like to admit it — even to themselves. Your approach is important. Here are some guidelines to help:
Don't talk about it when either of you has been drinking.
Know before your talk where help is available — just in case he/she is ready to seek it.
Be objective. Don’t allow emotions to distract you from your goal and don’t let it become a negotiation.
Use "I" statements. "I’m afraid you will get kicked out of UTD" or "I would miss you if you were kicked out of our sorority, fraternity or organization." Pointing the finger or using the word 'you' too much will only back your friend into a corner.
Don't judge. If your friend opens up dialogue, don’t break in. Sometimes just talking can lead to a huge revelation.
Don’t expect your friend to give up all alcohol in one discussion. It’s difficult to predict a reaction. You may not come to a conclusion in one discussion. You have already started the process though with just one discussion!
If your friend is ready to get help offer to go along to appointments or meetings. Don’t change the dynamics of your friendship — he or she needs some constants. Be supportive and listen when necessary.