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Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse

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Signs that a Friend May Have a Problem

Is your friend:

  • Missing class or study time due to drinking?
  • Drinking because of shyness with other people?
  • Drinking to build up self-confidence?
  • Drinking alone?
  • Drinking to the extent that it has affected his or her reputation?
  • Experiencing personality changes while drinking?
  • Drinking to escape problems?
  • Feeling guilty after drinking? 
  • Bothered if someone said that maybe he/she drank too much?
  • Choosing to drink when he/she went out on a date?
  • Getting along better with other people when he/she was drinking?
  • In financial trouble because of spending too much on alcohol/other drugs? 
  • Avoiding social recreational events where no alcohol was available? 
  • Losing friends since he/she has been drinking a lot? 
  • Experiencing memory loss from drinking?
  • Experiencing legal trouble due to drinking/resulting behavior? 
  • Turned off by any studies, lectures, or information about drinking? 
  • Able to drink a lot of alcohol without getting drunk?
  • Combining drinking with driving? 

If you answered yes to a few of these questions, you're right to be concerned. It may be time to turn that concern into action and talk to your friend. If you need help doing this, visit campus prevention services in the Student Development Center  or call them at 608-796-3807.

What to do if you suspect your friend has an alcohol problem:

  • Wait until your friend is sober to talk about the issue.
  • Express genuine concern as you attempt to inform them of their behavior. This conversation is not to punish, criticize, or hurt your friend.
  • Explain that you are concerned about a specific behavior and describe the behavior that was objectionable to you. Try to avoid general descriptions or judgments. For instance, it generally works better to tell the person you are concerned because she drank so much on Tuesday night that she missed her Wednesday class than to tell her she's always messing up because she's drinking too much. 
  • Emphasize the contrast between that person's sober behavior versus intoxicated behavior. 
  • Don't get into a discussion about anything else that distracts the purpose of your talk until the message is delivered. If your friend tries to interrupt you or change the subject, it sometimes works to explicitly ask him to listen to you for a couple minutes and then you will listen to him.
  • Share information with your friend about where she can get help. There are campus counseling services and community agencies to help. 
  • Seek help yourself, if you're unsure about how to approach your friend or deal with your concerns. Call campus prevention services at 608-796-3807.
  • In a nutshell, tell your friend:
    • I care about you.
    • I see these specific negative things that have happened.
    • I'm worried and think you need to make some changes.
    • I know places that can help you think about your drinking.
  • Don't:
    • Nag or lecture.
    • Develop a martyr-like attitude
    • Hide or dispose of liquor
    • Drink with your friend on the assumption that it will make him/her drink less.
    • Expect immediate changes to occur.
    • Do for the person what he can do for himself.>
    • Think that you are responsible for "fixing" your friend.