Boozin' buddy: What to do if your best friend drinks Does someone you care about —a good friend or boyfriend —have a drinking problem? You may not even be sure what that means. Maybe a lot of your friends participate in teenage drinking at parties. But the difference between a "social drinker" and an alcoholic is a big one. Someone with a teenage drinking problem might: Be secretive about their drinking; they hide it or drink alone. Be in "denial;" they refuse to admit they have a problem, even though everyone around them thinks they do. Have blackouts. They sometimes can't remember what happened while they were drinking. This adds to the denial because if you call them on their behavior, they think YOU'RE crazy. Have "personality changes." A lot of people get silly or "tipsy" when they drink. An alcoholic becomes a "different person." She might get angry, violent, or do things that you know aren't "her." Not able to stop. A social drinker might stop when they think they've had enough. An alcoholic usually doesn't know she's had enough, and wouldn't be able to stop even if she did. If you're close to someone who has a teenage drinking problem, you know firsthand that alcoholism hurts a lot of people, not just the person who drinks. Maybe you've felt like you can help your friend; if you just said or did the right thing, she'd stop. Actions you can take Well, the sad thing is, alcoholics don't get better until THEY decide they want help. Until then, there are a few things you can do: Tell your friend you're worried about his/her drinking; gently suggest they try to get help (through a therapist, rehab, or through Alcoholics Anonymous.) Remind your friend that teenage drinking is illegal (if he/she is under the drinking age). This could really mess things up for him/her later in life. Tell an adult or someone else whom you can confide in. That person may be able to help you sort through the issue and maybe get your friend to get some help! Let it go. All you can do is "plant the seed." Arguing with your friend or trying to talk sense into her will only make YOU crazy. Know that you're not the cause of anyone's drinking behavior. Understand that you can't change or control anyone but yourself. Detach yourself emotionally from your friend's problems while continuing to care about her. Don't make her problems YOUR problems, and don't try to cover up for her. Believe that you deserve to develop your own potential —no matter what happens with your friend. Take care of YOU If you really want to do something good for yourself, and your friend, try Alateen. This is a program for teenagers whose lives are affected by someone else's drinking, friends or family. Alateen has meetings in every city that are free and confidential. You can call Alateen for free at (800) 356-9996, or check out the Web site www.alateen.org. Being the friend of an alcoholic is draining. It's hard watching someone you love hurt herself that way. If you find yourself feeling depressed or overwhelmed, talk to a school counselor or join a support group like Alateen. The important thing to understand if you are friends with an alcoholic is that you're not alone in this. There are people out there who can help you deal with it all. So get help and stay positive!
Get insight into teenage drinking and read helpful information at BeingGirl.com.