How to Help a Friend (Alcohol and Drug Concerns)
You know someone who has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, and you want to help. Where do you start, and where do you stop?
Often, people want to find a way to help their friend or loved one who may have an alcohol and/or drug problem. Some may try an intervention, which refers to an attempt to bring a person closer to understanding or accepting how alcohol or other drug is negatively affecting their life.
Consider the following steps when planning an intervention with a friend or loved one.
- Pay Attention: Specifically identify any alcohol/drug related behaviors that seem to interfere with an individual's relationships, work, classes, and/or health among other aspects.
- It may help to write down the behaviors you observe and see that are specifically related to their alcohol/drug use causing you concern.
- Write what you see as it arises including when and where it occurred and the resulting negative outcome.
- Share concerns: Talk with the individual respectfully and honestly about what you focusing on specific behavior and the negative consequences that cause you concern.
- Avoid blaming or judging them because it can be counterproductive, and avoid providing a rationale for their behavior or trying to "fix" them.
- Listen: Carefully listen to the individual's response without expecting anything in return. Your job is to offer your undivided attention regardless of how they respond or what they say.
- Offer Alternative: State what steps you want them to take, whether it is a visit with a counselor, or simply a behavior change.
- Offer Support: Tell them what you are willing to do to help them meet your expectations.
- Always let them know that the door is open to discuss the matter at a future time.
- Clearly state the actions you will take if they refuse to change behavior.
- If they fail to follow through, seek additional help from a trusted friend or trained professional.
- Regardless of how scary it is to help a friend, remind yourself that you are doing this because you care about them.
Additional "How to Help" Resources
Above the Influence - Learn how to help a friend and other additional facts.
Behavior Concerns Advice Line