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When You’re Worried About Friends Drinking or Drugging

This is your brain: 

This is your brain Photo credit: Marcos Stoltzfus

This is your brain on drugs: 

This is your brain on drugs


“It can’t happen HERE, It can’t happen HERE, I’m telling you my DEAR That it CAN’T HAPPEN HERE… Whoooo could imagine...” -Frank Zappa

What to expect today: 

What to expect today Validation & clarification if you’re concerned. How you might be of help & when to get help. How to take care of yourself in relationships. How you might be transformative with your energy.

What, me worry? : 

What, me worry? It’s normal to be concerned when friends misuse/abuse alcohol or drugs. When people face major consequences and don’t change, we worry they’ll get hurt or hurt others.

What’s “Safe” Use?: 

What’s “Safe” Use? You’re not suffering or experiencing any pattern of negative consequences as a result of your use. No one else is at risk of harm or suffering as a result of your use. Accepting consequences and learning quickly from any that might occur.

From a sample of 68,000 undergraduate students at 133 colleges in the US.: 

From a sample of 68,000 undergraduate students at 133 colleges in the US.

More specifically… : 

More specifically…

The Big Disconnection: 

The Big Disconnection Alcoholism was considered a top health priority by only 4% and 6% of surveyed physicians and the general public.* 74% of the general public who were surveyed indicated that (in some way) alcoholism affected their daily lives.* 41% of the public reported having encouraged a loved one to seek help for an alcohol problem. * Survey of 1000 adults older than 20 years of age, 300 physicians, and 503 people in recovery. Survey by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in August 2005 for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).

Stigma as a barrier to seeking and Receiving Treatment*: 

Stigma as a barrier to seeking and Receiving Treatment* * CADCA survey 2005

When to be concerned: 

When to be concerned Grades & friendships are suffering. Disregard for physical, financial & legal consequences. Avoidant, secretive, or sudden change in behavior and/or personality. Increased irritability and frequent arguing. Avoiding responsibility/challenges.

When to be concerned for yourself: 

When to be concerned for yourself Your grades and friendships are suffering as a result of 1) trying to rescue them and 2) time spent worrying about them. You feel hopeless and depressed. You argue frequently about your efforts with others who don’t seem to care. You think you’re the only one who can help.

Know your limits: 

Know your limits Only you are responsible for what you think, feel & do. When you feel out-of-control, know you still have control over what you do, not what others do. Respect your feelings. Explore how you might be grieving the loss of what you wanted in the friendship.

The Relationship Game: 

The Relationship Game Victim Perpetrator Rescuer Based upon Transactional Analysis “Drama Triangle”

What can I do?: 

What can I do? Talk Listen Care Share Get Active

Speak Gently: 

Speak Gently Tell the person(s) what you genuinely like about them. Tell the person(s) what you don’t like about their behavior. Be respectful and non-judgmental. Own your thoughts and feelings, don’t speak for others.

Listen Deeply: 

Listen Deeply Pay attention to what they say – repeat in your own words what you thought you heard them say and how they felt. Do it repeatedly without judgment. Ask questions if you’re confused. Avoid offering advice or giving answers – ask what they might do.


Care Offer to support them in cutting back or stopping. Pay attention to them and let them know what you see. Spend time with them when they’re clean and sober. Respect yourself enough to set limits for what you’re willing to do.


Share Your time when they ask for help – know your limits. Your information about resources and how to get help. How you feel about them getting help and/or getting clean and sober.

I’ve tried, but they won’t change: 

I’ve tried, but they won’t change When someone decides to change, it is the result of many influences, not yours alone. Abuse and dependence have their “rewards” and benefits - that’s why some people continue. Sometimes, the consequences of use/abuse can be devastating to watch. Find support for yourself – share your grief with others: you are not responsible for their continued use. If you are a person of faith, consider asking for prayer and assistance from your spiritual community.

Get Active!: 

Get Active! Do something for the greater good of the community. Explore volunteer groups like SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), MADD, or Victim Services. Host alcohol/drug free social activities. Explore Stewardship: the environmental, political, socioeconomic, and cultural cost of alcohol and drug production.

Stuff to Remember: 

Some people drink and drug “safely” (legally or not). Substance abuse/dependence might occur in you or people you know. Develop & practice keeping limits for your own behavior. Know your “Yes” and “No.” Be inclusive and supportive while keeping your limits - that’s love in action and reduces stigma. Help is available - you don’t have to be a hero to be of help. Stuff to Remember

An old story about help: 

An old story about help If you see people drowning in a dangerous river, you can do nothing or you could: Jump in and save them as they’re going down for the last time. Go upstream to try and stop them as they’re jumping in. Work in programs to teach them how to swim safely and when not to jump in. Make the river safer for swimming. Where do you want to put your time and energy?

Where to get help: 

Where to get help Health & Counseling - x7474 Campus Ministries – x7542 Your RL, RA, RD, or Faculty/Staff National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information – National Counsel on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence – Oaklawn – 533-1234 Center for Behavioral Medicine – 523-3347 Center for Problem Resolution – 533-0664 Bowen Center – 1-800-342-5652

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