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Worried About My Friend's Drinking

Published: December 19, 2013
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Hi, my best friend wont stop drinking. Earlier today, i was with him and a friend. We went to another friends house where he offered drinks. It was 36% alcohol. My friend had 6 shots of it. There was also 35% alcohol. He had about 1/8 of it. I didnt drink any of it. I finally got sick of him drinking like that. So I got up and told him "Xxxx, if you dont stop drinking i wont talk to you." Then i just left. I told my parents if they knew what to do. They couldnt do anything. I just really want to help my friend. I should of mentioned this before but hes only 14. Please help me. I dont want to lose my friend...
Signed: Worried About My Friend's Drinking

Dear Worried About My Friend's Drinking,


TeenHealthFX recommends that you start by talking to your friend about your concerns. Find a time where the two of you can speak privately and without interruption – a time where he is sober and is in a mindset to have a serious and straight conversation with you. Let him know exactly what worries you about his drinking – what you see in terms of how much he drinks at one sitting, how often he is drinking, his participating in underage drinking, what may physically happen to him if he continues to drink, and changes you notice in his personality either when is he drinking or in the days afterwards. Be as specific as possible about what worries you, and be clear that you are bringing this up out of care for him and your friendship with one another.

If you want, you could even go over the following FX questions/answers that give more information on the dangers of underage drinking:

·         How Do You Know If You Have An Alcohol Problem?

·         14 And Has A Few Drinks Once And A While

·         Concerned About Underage Drinking

·         Alcohol Truths

If you suspect, or your friend admits to, his having a substance abuse issue, than encourage him to talk to his parents and to seek out treatment for himself. You can give him the following resources:

·         National Institute on Drug Abuse & Alcoholism, 1-888-644-6432

·         If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

If you find that talking to your friend does not influence the situation any in terms of his drinking habits, there are a few things you will be left to think about. The first is whether you want to maintain your friendship with him if he continues to drink. If he is clear with you that he will continue to drink, are you okay to accept this because you want to remain friends with him, will you only hang out with him when he is not drinking, or will you end the friendship all together? The second thing to think about is whether or not you want to tell an adult about what is going on. If you are truly worried about the extent of your friend’s drinking, you need to decide whether you want to talk to someone who can intervene in the situation such as your friend’s parents or a counselor at school.

If you need some further guidance and support in terms of dealing with this situation and deciding exactly how you want to handle it, FX recommends that you talk it out with a trusted adult. You can speak with your parents, a school counselor, teacher, older sibling, extended family member, family doctor or any other trusted adult who can help you figure out the best thing to do for you and for your friend.

Signed: TeenHealthFX