It’s the middle of the school year and by now we all have our circle of friends. There have been some tiffs and more importantly lots of fun, but how do we help a friend we think is in need? College can be an exciting time for everyone but sometimes the fun can be taken too far. Social drinking can become binge drinking and hobbies can become addictions. But how far is too far? Here are some behaviors to look out for in your friends.

According WCU’s Partner in Prevention (PIP) Manual here are some behaviors to look out for in your friends:

  • Using alcohol (substances) to help you get through painful situations or feelings often drinking to intoxication while alone.
  • Doing things while “under the influence” that cause regret afterwards
  • Neglecting responsibilities in order to use the substance (skipping class/work, financials, etc.)

If you start to notice that one of your friends is starting to act like “that guy” or “that girl” at a party, here are some ways to approach them and offer help. Remember these simple steps of communicating and use them to help you help your friend:

  • Pick the right time.  Overuse/misuse of alcohol and drugs can be a dangerous thing and can be unnerving to talk about. Find a time to set aside to meet with your friend
  • Next, choose the best place.  Take your friend aside to a private place or. Find a place where you two can be alone and feel comfortable talking to one another.
  • Always use a positive approach. Remember to be honest, open, and focus on the positive traits in your friend. Try to avoid making them feel bad about themselves. Even if you have to write down everything you want to say and practice it, do it!
  • Promote interaction. Make sure you are engaging your friend in the conversation and remember to listen to what they have to say. Don’t do all the talking.
  • Follow up. If you notice your friend hasn’t changed their behavior since you talked, talk with them again. Sometimes it can take people longer to make a change so don’t give up on them.
  • Lastly, Offer to go with them. Once your friend is comfortable and ready to find a place, offer to help make the appointment or go with them for extra support.

Once you have approached your friend, know that there are other services on campus where you can get additional help. West Chester University offers great support groups that you can even go with your friend to make them feel more comfortable. If your friend doesn’t feel comfortable seeking help on campus, there are also other opportunities off campus as well for them to get the support they need.

Here are some on-campus resources all students can access:

Office of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD)  
2nd Floor Wayne Hall
Individual Alcohol Education Programs,Tobacco Cessation Support

Center for Counseling and Psychological Services
2nd Floor Lawrence Center
Certified Addictions Counselor, Individual Counseling, Group Counseling, Psychiatric Services

Student Health Center
2nd Floor Wayne Hall
Medical Services,Sexual Health Services Including Emergency Contraception

Other Off-Campus Services for Support:

Gaudenzia House
West Chester Plaza
110 Westtown Road Suite 115 (corner of Market and Westtown)
West Chester, PA  19380 (and other locations around Philadelphia)

Chester County Council on Addictive Diseases (COAD)
930 East Lancaster Avenue
Exton, PA 19341

Written by Ashley Stewart, Peer Educator