How Can I Help a Friend with a Drug or Alcohol Problem?
Has a friend become moody, short-tempered, and hostile? Does he seem "spaced out?" Is he or she suddenly failing courses and hanging out with people you don’t trust?
Stop and think about it. Your friend may have an alcohol or other drug problem.
Here are some signs of drug or alcohol abuse:
- Increased interest in alcohol or other drugs; talking about them, talking about buying them
- Owning drug paraphernalia, such as pipes, hypodermic needles, or rolling papers
- Having large amounts of cash or always being low on cash
- Drastic increase or decrease in weight
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Withdrawal from others, frequent lying, depression, paranoia
If your friend acts this way, it is not a guarantee that he or she has an alcohol or other drug problem. You need to compare behavior in the past. But it’s better to say something and be wrong than to say nothing and find out later that you were right to be worried.
How to Talk to a Friend Who’s in Trouble
- Plan ahead what you want to say and how you want to say it
- Pick a quiet and private talk time
- Don’t try and talk about the problem when your friend is drunk or high
- Use a calm voice and don’t get into an argument with your friend
- Let your friend know that you care
- Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Find out about local hotlines and drug-abuse counseling and offer to go along with him or her.
- Don’t expect your friend to like what you’re saying. But stick with it – the more people who express concern, the better the chances of your friend getting help
For more information contact:
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)
P.O. Box 2345
Rockville, MD 20847-2345
The NCADI distributes a wide range of free information on alcohol and drugs. Materials are available in English and Spanish. They also operate a computerized database and provide a free catalog of materials.
800-COCAINE – Answers emergency questions about cocaine use.
800-662-HELP – This toll free, 24-hour hotline can tell you how and where to get help for alcohol and other drug problems.