Abrons Student Health Center

How to Help a Friend

Are you concerned about a friend's use of alcohol or other drugs? Here is a brief but helpful source to let you know what you can do for both yourself and the person that you are concerned about.

Deciding to Act

If the intoxicated behavior is just willful alcohol or other drug abuse, your friend will quickly learn from the negative consequences and change their behavior. But if he/she can't seem to modify drinking/drugging in spite of adverse effects, then you might suspect a serious dependency. If such is the case, some form of intervention is necessary. Here are some ideas on how you as a friend may choose to try and help. The Crossroads staff can help you process your concern and help you decide what you can do to intervene, if anything.  We are here to help. Please call 910-962-4135 to make an appointment with the Direct Services Coordinatior.

What to Do

  • Know that ignoring the problem won't help.
  • Take notes of behaviors under the influence that violate your friend's values.
  • Develop a CORE message.
    • I care
    • Here's what I see (specific non-judgmental examples)
    • There's help (know where it is)
    • Let's go (offer to go with)
  • Attempt to intervene but avoid arguing; just keep bridging to your CORE message. You may be met with anger or denial. Remember, you can "plant a seed" even if the person does not immediately follow through.
  • Try to get others who are concerned to help.
  • Don't ignore, cover-up or accept the unacceptable.
  • Recognize the limits of your power.
    • Ask for help
  • If you need to let go and can't - seek help.

A letter to a Friend

Use this letter as a model for one of your own if you think your friend may be developing a substance abuse problem.

You scared me last week...
I didn't know how else to tell you, so I thought this letter might be a way to start talking. The point is, then we were together last time, I was really frightened. Everybody likes to have a good time. Me too. That's why I like to be with you, because most of the time we have fun together. Most of the time.

But last time you were really out of control. I'm not even sure you realize it. It was like you were another person, a person I wasn't used to, a person I wasn't sure I liked, a person that was scary to watch. It had to be because of your drinking. There's no other explanation for your actions, all of a sudden I didn't know who you were.

Yes, I was frightened for me, but I was worried about you. I wonder if you know what you are doing, if it is true when you say, "I'm fine" or "Don't worry, I can handle it."

I'm not saying that you have a serious drinking problem - that's not for me to say. I'm saying that you could have been hurt that night, or worse, hurt someone else... maybe you ought to take a close look at what is happening.

I'm not the only one who thinks these things. Maybe I'm the one who cares enough about you to say something. You're my friend. I care about you, I really do. But you scared me last week, and I thought that you should know.