Lifestyles Center Blog

SURVIVOR SERIES: HOW TO TALK TO A FRIEND ABOUT SUBSTANCE ABUSE

“It’s not a drinking problem, it’s college.” Sound familiar? You hear people talk about getting blacked-out drunk, laughing with their friends as they try to piece their memories back together. When did this become the norm? There is a huge difference between having a couple of drinks at a party, and drinking to the point of oblivion. It can be hard to tell if someone has a serious problem with substances. But if you think your friend may be abusing alcohol or other drugs, talking about it is the first step.

Some possible warning signs:

  • Often needs to be taken care of while drinking
  • Does dangerous things while under the influence, which he or she later regrets
  • Has expressed a desire to cut down on use, but does not act on it
  • Says hurtful thinks while under the influence, and does not remember it
  • Has needed medical help related to substance use, and continues to exhibit the same behaviors
  • Decline in health and/or appearance
  • Gets overly defensive when the subject comes up

How to talk about it:

  • Find information and resources
  • Approach your friend in a caring, NON-JUDGEMENTAL way
  • Make a list of specific instances or behaviors of concern, to help explain WHY you are worried
  • Make sure your friend is sober when you have this conversation
  • Emphasize how your friend’s behavior makes you feel, and worries you
  • Discuss the negative side effects or behaviors that you have notices
  • Make sure your friend knows that you do not think he/she is a bad person. You are coming to him/her out of concern and wanting to help
  • Encourage your friend to seek professional help. Emphasize that you will support him/her

Do not take on too much. If you think you may need help in approaching your friend, there are people to turn to, such as a hall director, GRM, or the Counseling Services Center. Just having a friend who cares enough to say something can be a great start towards getting help.

 

Elana Ginsburg, Lifestyles Center Intern

Emily Klingbeil, Peer Educator

SUNY Oswego Counseling Services Center – (315) 312-4416, located in the back of Mary Walker Health Center