UT University Health Services

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

Helpful Links

Alcohol and Drugs
Bruce the Bat
Alcohol Overdose and the Bacchus Maneuver
Prescription Drug Misuse
Prescription Stimulant Misuse
Having Fun and Playing Safe
Naloxone / Narcan

Programs and Classes

Individual Consultations
AlcoholEdu and SAPU
Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students (BASICS)
Center for Students in Recovery
Student Amnesty for Alcohol Emergencies

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512) 471-4955 (512) 471-4955
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