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Wellness Center
Hughes hall, Room 105

Pritma "Mickey" Irizarry
Director, Wellness Center

Wellness Center
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20018-8067

How to Help a Friend

Drugs and Alcohol


How can you tell if a friend's drinking or drug use has become a problem?

Some common consequences of alcohol abuse are listed below:

Has your friend...

  • done something they later regretted
  • forgot where they were or what they did
  • missed a class
  • got into an argument or fight
  • performed poorly on a test or project
  • had trouble with the police or with campus officials

Similar consequences may emerge following marijuana use.

Has your friend...

  • had problems with concentration, thinking, sensory and time perception
  • exhibited impaired skills related to attention, memory and learning, especially within 24 hours after use
  • missed or forgot to go to work or class
  • performed poorly on a test or project
  • had trouble with the police or with campus officials


Are there other signs to look out for? 

Does your friend seem like a different person when they drink or get high? Maybe they have been letting you down lately and you think it's connected to their alcohol or drug use. Or maybe some of the things they do when drunk or high scare you. This can be a difficult situation to deal with, and sometimes the situation gets worse before it gets better. Don't make excuses. Talk to your friend.

As a guideline, it's a good idea to express concern for a friend who meets one or more of the following criteria:

Do they...

  • get drunk or high on a regular basis
  • drink/smoke/use when they are alone
  • show up at class still drunk/high
  • skip class to use
  • need alcohol or other drugs to have a good time or cope with everyday life
  • plan for alcohol/drug use in advance
  • start hanging out with new friends who drink or use excessively
  • lie about alcohol or drug use
  • pressure others to use excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs
  • have broken plans with you or showed up late because they were getting drunk or high
  • show little interest in or quit activities they once enjoyed
  • have driven a car while drunk or high
  • borrow or steal money to buy alcohol or drugs

Perhaps your friend doesn't show any of the above signs yet, but you feel like they are headed in the wrong direction. You don't have to wait until it gets worse, you can still ask for help.


Seeking Help for a Friend

Chances are if you friend is drinking or using marijuana too frequently, you already know it. If you are concerned about a friend or family member, you can help by providing support for that individual to change their behavior in a positive way.

Consider suggesting that you think they should cut back. If they refuse or just laugh it off, you can ask them to take some time to think about it. If they find cutting back is not easy, you may want to suggest that they seek outside help.

Do not hesitate to seek help for a friend. If you are concerned, there is probably a good reason for feeling that way. Ask for help on campus, by using these resources.