How to Help Your Friend Drink Responsibly
Communicate Care & Concern
There are a lot of myths about drinking. Some of those myths can really get your friends into trouble. Knowing the facts will help you to make better choices and help you help keep your friends safe.
Know the facts
- Not everyone drinks. In a national survey, 71% of 12-20 year-old youth replied that they did not drink in the last 30 days.
- Alcohol affects both your concentration and coordination. It will not only hurt your performance on tests but also keep you from doing your best in sports, music, art or any other activities in which you are involved.
- The only thing that sobers you up is time. Coffee will wake you up and a cold shower will make you cold but neither of these will help you sober up. Your liver can only metabolize alcohol so fast.
- Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance law which means that a minor (those under 21) can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is .02% or greater.
Show your concern if their drinking starts to get out of hand or might get them into legal or academic trouble:
"I know you really want to drink at this party but you're under 21 and drinking could get you into serious trouble with the police and at school. We'd better just stick with soda this time."
Ask, Assess, & Affirm
Knowing the facts is half the battle. The other half is being able to assess how drunk your friends are and determine whether or not they're at risk for dangerous behavior. Make sure you keep yourself safe as well; you can't help others be safe unless you are safe yourself. Know yourself and your limits ? and help your friends to learn their limits as well.
It's a good idea not to drink if:
- You're upset, anxious, or angry
- You'll be driving
- There's a chance you might need to make a decision about sex
- You are pregnant or think you might be
- You're taking certain medications
It's not normal to:
- Vomit or pass out: clear signs you've had too much
- Have a hangover- this is your body's reaction when a toxic substance shocks the system
- Have blackouts:-blackouts put you at risk of injuries, unsafe sex, violence and legal trouble
When you sense that they might have had too much to drink, ask some important questions:
"How much have you had to drink? Have you eaten anything recently? Are you starting to feel like you might get sick? I think it's a good idea if you stop drinking for tonight."
Reach for Resources & Refer
If you get the sense that your friend's drinking is out of hand, you may want to encourage him/her to check out some of the resources below. You might also want to do some research of your own on how to be a good friend to those struggling with drinking problems.
Check out the following resources:
- Seven Weeks to Safe Social Drinking (Cornett, 1997)
- Thinkin' Drinkin': From the Teen Years Forward: A Rational, Safe, Worry-Free Approach to Lifetime Alcohol Use or Abstinence (Thatcher, 2011)
- I've Got This Friend Who: Advice For Teens and Their Friends on Alcohol, Drugs, Eating Disorders, Risky Behavior and More (KidsPeace, 2007)
- University of California, Safe Party Tips: http://safeparty.ucdavis.edu/partier/personal-safety.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/resources.htm
- PA Liquor Control Board : http://www.lcb.state.pa.us/PLCB/Education/AlcoholandtheLaw/index.htm
Additionally, if you get the feeling that their drinking is too much for you to handle, refer them to a counselor at Penn State Brandywine's Counseling Services Department on the second floor of Commons.
Here is some additional information that may serve as a helpful resource when determining alcohol poisoning:
The signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Mental Confusion, stupor, coma or the inability to be roused
- Vomiting and seizures
- Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
- Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature, bluish skin color, paleness)
If you recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning in your friend, reach out for help!
"I'm not 100% sure if you have alcohol poisoning but according to the list of signs, I think you might ? so let's get you to the hospital so they can check."
Engage, Explain, and Eliminate Danger
Know what to do if a friend is experiencing symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- Do not wait for all symptoms to be present
- Be aware that a person who has passed out may die. His or her BAC may still be rising.
- If there is any suspicion of an alcohol overdose, call 911 for help. Don't try to guess the level of drunkenness.
Take the steps to engage and eliminate the danger. Make sure to explain to your friend what you're doing and why: "I am concerned that you might have drank too much and it's better to be safe than sorry, so I am going to call 911 just to make sure that you'll be alright."
If you or another Penn State Brandywine student would like to speak to a counselor, feel free to contact Penn State Brandywine's Student Affair's Counseling Services 610-892-1270 or email bw-StuAffairs@psu.edu.
This information was modified from the following sites: