Addictive disorders affect more than just the person who is using them. It also impacts their friends and family.
If you are a teen who has a friend who is misusing alcohol, it can be hard to intervene. You may be afraid of losing their friendship or getting them in trouble. Helping your friend is a big step but one that can help them stay safe and healthy. Here is how you can reach out to your friend about their drinking.
Put Aside The Myths About Alcoholism & Misuse
There are many common myths surrounding alcoholism and substance use disorders. For example, an alcoholic doesn’t always drink every day. Instead, it is diagnosed by how it impacts relationships, affects life quality, and any harm or injury caused.
Putting aside the myths will help you recognize the symptoms of substance misuse and better able to intervene.
Set Aside A Time To Talk
Plan and set a good time to talk to your friend. Avoid springing the conversation on them. Instead, say, “Hey, do you have time to talk this evening? I’m worried about you.” Planning ahead and letting them know you want to talk will help prevent them from feeling ambushed.
Let Your Friend Know You Care About Them
Even if your friend dismisses you, leave it be for a while and come back to the conversation later. Leave the conversation with phrases like “I care about you, and I hope you’ll think about it because it’s worrying me.” Let your friend know that you care about them, their health, and their safety.
Avoid Blames & Accusations
State the facts. Avoid generalizations or exaggerations. Be specific about what you see happening. Accepting the reality of alcohol misuse can be difficult for your friend. They may refuse to talk about it, get angry, or laugh it off. Prepare for your friend to feel defensive and avoid blaming and accusations. Doing so will be detrimental to the conversation and your attempt to help them. If needed, back off and revisit the conversation later.
Tell Them How You Feel
Use “I statements” to tell your friend how you feel. For example, “I feel nervous when I see you getting wasted.” Or “I am sad that we don’t hang out anymore without drinking.”
Tell Them What You Need
You can make small or large requests. If you would like them to skip a major party this weekend, ask them to do something else with you instead. Or, perhaps offer to go with them to speak to a counselor.
Stay Consistent & Avoid Mixed Messages
When talking to your friend about their alcohol misuse, avoid mixed messages. Don’t talk to them about their alcohol use and then go out drinking with them or not say anything about another friend who drinks. Stay consistent.
Reach Out To PreventEd
PreventEd is here to help provide you with the resources you need to help your friend with their alcohol misuse. We offer a wide variety of community programs and professional counselors to connect you with local resources.