If you suspect that your friend or loved one is misusing/abusing alcohol or drugs or if you suspect they are addicted to alcohol or drugs, there are a few things that you can do:
- Speak up. The earlier addiction/abuse is treated, the better. Talk to the person about your concerns and offer your help and support. Try not to be judgemental as this can make them defensive. Be prepared for excuses and denial by listing specific examples of the person's behavior that you are worried about.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in someone else’s alcohol or drug problem that you neglect your own needs. Make sure you have a support team that you can lean on and stay safe by not placing yourself in dangerous situations.
- Avoid self-blame. You can support a person and encourage treatment, but you cannot force a person to change. You cannot control a person’s decisions. Let the person accept responsibility for their actions - this is a important step in the road to recovery.
- Tell someone that you trust. This could be a parent, relative, professor, coach, school counselor or other college official. These folks can help find the treatment needed to help your friend or loved one with their alcohol or drug abuse or addiction.
- Educate yourself on addiction. One way to help a friend or loved one struggling with alcohol or drug abuse or addiction is to learn about alcoholism, drug abuse, and addiction. Being familiar with the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse and/or addiction can help you identity problem behaviors in your friend or loved one. It is also a good idea to learn about treatment options, community resources, alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms, and how to tell the difference between alcoholism, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and addiction.
- Set boundaries. An important part of helping a friend or loved one with alcohol or drug misuse/abuse or addiction is to set boundaries. Determine the boundaries you want to set and stick with them, even if your friend or loved one gets upset. Reasonable limits include, but are not limited to, refusing to lie for your friend or loved one about their alcohol or drug use, refusing to do things for your friend or loved one that they should be handling themselves, refusing to supply your friend or loved one with alcohol or drugs, and refusing to engage in arguments when your friend or loved one is drunk or high.