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Helping Others

Concerned for a Friend's Alcohol or Drug Use

Sometimes using alcohol or other drugs is a way to cope with upsetting thoughts and feelings. Other times, using alcohol or other drugs may start out as a way of having fun or socializing with friends, but turns into a need to continue, then starts to affect the person’s life.

In this section, you’ll find some helpful tips on how to support a friend when you’re concerned about their alcohol or drug use.

  • Talk to your friend when they’re straight and sober, not high.
  • Tell your friend what you feel and what’s happened to you because of your friend’s behaviour.

    “Last night you drank a lot more than you usually do. I got worried because you seemed so out of control.”

  • Tell your friend you’re concerned about their well- being.

    “I’m worried about you as it seems you’re partying a lot these days.” or “I’m worried that one of these times you’ll find yourself in trouble.”

  • It’s important to bring up any negative consequences of your friend’s drinking or drug use. Use examples of actual events whenever you can.
  • Talk about the changes you see in your friend after they’ve been drinking or using other drugs.

    “I love your sense of humour, but when you drink you get sarcastic and it’s hurtful.”

  • Be sure to let them know you like them as a person—it's the behaviour you don't like.

    “I think you’re a great person, but when you use alcohol or other drugs, the slightest thing makes you angry and become aggressive.

  • Your friend may not see that they have a problem or that their alcohol or drug use is having a negative effect on their life. They may become very defensive—don’t take this personally. You may be the first person to bring up the subject with them or they may not want to make a change.
  • It may make you uncomfortable if your friend keeps using alcohol or other drugs while they're around you. You may have to decide if the friendship is healthy for you or not.

If a friend is interested in reducing or stopping their use, you can:

  • suggest they check out the get help resources on this site
  • help them think of ways they can have fun without using alcohol or other drugs
  • support them in their choice.

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