Concerned about a friend's alcohol or drug use

Mental health challenges can include problems with alcohol or drug use. Sometimes alcohol or drug use is a way to cope with distressing thoughts and feelings. Other times, using alcohol or drugs may start out as a way of having fun or socializing with friends, but develops into a need to continue and starts to interfere with daily life.

In this section, you’ll find some helpful tips on how to support a friend when you are concerned about their alcohol or drug use.

  • Talk to your friend when he/she is sober or not high.
  • Tell your friend what you feel and what you have experienced of your friend’s behavior.

 

 

“Last night you drank a lot more than you usually do. I got worried because you seemed so out of control.”

  • Express your concern for your friend’s well being.
 

“I’m worried about you as it seems you’re partying a lot these days.” or “I’m worried that one of these times, you’ll get yourself in trouble.”

  • It is important to bring up any negative consequences of your friend’s drinking or drug use. Use concrete examples whenever you can.
  • Talk about the changes you see in your friend after they have been drinking/using drugs.  
 

“I love your sense of humour, but when you drink you get sarcastic and it’s hurtful.”
 

  • Be sure to let them know you like them as a person - it's the behaviours you don't like. 
 

“I think you’re a great person, but when you use alcohol/drugs, the slightest thing can make you fly off the handle and become aggressive.”

  • Your friend may not see themself as having a problem or that their alcohol or drug use is having a negative effect on their life. They may become very defensive – don’t take this personally. You may be the first person to bring up the subject with them or they may not be at a point in their lives where they want to make a change. If they are open to finding out more about the impact alcohol/drug use is having on them, suggest they take the alcohol/drug use quiz on mindcheck.ca [Substance Use].
  • If they continue to use alcohol or drugs and it makes you uncomfortable to be around them, you may have to decide whether the friendship is one you want to maintain.


If a friend is interested in reducing or stopping their use, you can:
• suggest they check out [Self-care Resources]
• help them to identify ways of having fun that don’t involve alcohol or drugs

Keeping connected