Concerned About Your Use?
When evaluating your own drinking habits, it can be helpful to review these three definitions:
- Alcohol Abuse: Someone abusing a substance uses alcohol and/or other drugs in ways that threaten his/her health and well-being, and compromises her/his ability to function in social, work, and family environments.
- Alcohol Dependency: Someone dependent on alcohol and/or other drugs needs to take these drugs and needs to increase her/her dosage over time to maintain the effects of the drugs.
- Alcoholism: Alcoholics have the disease of alcoholism; which can be defined by the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Here are examples:
- Biological: Genetic differences that predispose someone to alcohol abuse. Sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters of alcoholics are more likely to become alcohol abusers themselves.
- Psychological: Personality and psychological traits that predispose someone to alcohol abuse, including self-medicating unpleasant feelings and depression.
- Social: Environmental factors supporting alcohol abuse - things like job stress, insufficient employment and/or financial resources, relationship problems, and peer pressure to drink.
Do a little research. Look for information on the signs and symptoms associated with an alcohol problem and how it impacts relationships, school, health, work, career aspirations, etc. Feel free to contact the MSU Student Health Center or Counseling Center to help you start this process.
Talk with your Friend
Choose a quiet, private environment to talk to your friend. Avoid initiating the discussion when you are angry or upset. Also, be sure that your friend is sober. Use I-statements to convey your feelings and concerns such as “I am concerned about how much you drink” or “I am worried about you.” Keep the discussion focused on your observations. Remember to not judge or criticize, just listen. If you find yourself getting angry, tactfully end the conversation and initiate it another time when you are calmer. Periodic and brief conversations may work best.
Prepare for Defensiveness
Your friend may deny that there is a problem or may become defensive. Don’t take this personally; it’s often difficult for people to come to terms with their problems. Be persistent. It may take several attempts on your part before your friend is ready to talk about his/her alcohol use. If your friend remains resistant and/or your relationship is beginning to suffer as a result of his or her drinking, let him or her know how their drinking is affecting you. For example, “I really like spending time with you when you are sober, but when you are drinking, I don’t enjoy it as much. I never know what is going to happen to you, or what you’ll end up doing or saying.”
Even if your friend does not admit that there is a problem, it is important to give him/her options. There are local resources, both on and off campus, for people who have an alcohol problem. Provide a list of those resources to your friend and reassure him or her that you will help them get the help they need when and if they need it.
A friend with an alcohol problem can be difficult to be around and may even place you at risk of harm. Minimally, they can complicate your life and ruin more than a few evenings out. Minimize that effect by placing limits on when and how you spend time with your friend. Set limits you know you can stick to and then stick to them. Even if your friend is not ready to do anything about their drinking yet, setting limits and sticking to them will help protect you and preserve your friendship until he or she is ready to get help.
Sources: Grand Valley State University, Columbia University, UCLA
The Traveler’s Club is the heart and soul of the Collegiate Recovery Community.
The Club offers:
- Social Events
- Community service opportunities
The Traveler’s Club meets weekly to plan events, socialize and support each other in recovery. To become a part of the club or for more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more information contact:Emily YoungHealth Promotion Specialist517.353.5564Cara LudlowATOD Program Coordinator517.884.6598