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Supporting a Friend with a Drinking Problem

CONTACT US

E-mail: counselor@csmd.edu


LA PLATA CAMPUS

Ann Penick, MA, LCPC, NCC
Administration (AD) Building, Room 205
Phone: 301-934-7577
Email:  APenick@csmd.edu


LEONARDTOWN CAMPUS

Jennifer Fossell, LCSW-C
Building A, Room 204E
Phone: 240-725-5328
Email:  jfossell@csmd.edu


PRINCE FREDERICK CAMPUS

Jennifer Fossell, LCSW-C
Building B, Room 109B
Phone: 443-550-6169
Email: jfossell@csmd.edu

The following information comes from the BACCHUS Network. Be sure to check out www.bacchusnetwork.org.

  1. Decide to do something! Realize you friend is being affected negatively by alcohol abuse and needs to change some behavior. Be confident that your involvement is the right and caring thing to do. If you do nothing, your worry and concern will only grow.
  2. Don’t do it alone! Don’t keep it a secret. Talk with someone else—someone you trust. Contact CSM Counseling Services about your options. Create a support system for you AND your friend.
  3. Talk with your friend. You have a right to ask. Friends are interested in what is happening in each other’s lives. Friends don’t like to see friends in pain. Ask your friend, “What’s going on?” or “How are you?”  Make sure your friend sees what you see. Make sure your friend knows you have been affected as well. Be specific about what you see happening to your friend. Avoid saying, “You’re an alcoholic, you’ve totally messed up your life!” Saying something like that will only result in making her or him defensive and angry.
  4. Be prepared for any number of responses. There’s no one reaction to expect. Stay calm and don’t take any negative response personally.
  5. If your friend responds negatively, try again after the next instance of abusive behavior.
  6. If your friend responds positively, work with your friend to develop a plan. Be ready to make a commitment if he or she will try to get help and support. Help him or her to get the professional support he or she needs to find alternatives to drinking.
  7. If your friend’s drinking habits do NOT change, set some limits for yourself. DON’T become your friend’s caretaker, it will only drain you and you will get nowhere. In fact, it could even result in the ending of the friendship. Your role is to be a supportive friend not a “babysitter” or a personal 24/7 crisis hotline!
  8. Get attention for your needs and your stress!  This is a tough thing to go through. Get the support YOU need. As sad as it sounds, your friendship with this person might reach a point where you have no options left except to stop trying. You may find you have to remove yourself from the situation. If this happens, remember it was the person’s drinking that ended the friendship, NOT you. You must take care of yourself.