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How can I look out for a drunk friend?

House parties, sleep overs, schoolies and nights out with friends are an awesome part of growing up. At these gatherings, there’s a good chance someone will be drinking. When people get too drunk, things can get out of hand. Drunk people can make terrible decisions and do things which jeopardise their safety or the safety of those around them. 

Read on for a few tips on how to deal with drunk friends so that both you and your friends stay safe.

Remember: alcohol is a drug — it can be addictive and have very damaging effects on your physical and mental well-being. 

What are the signs a person is drunk?

People who are drunk will have a few if not all of these symptoms:

  • Slurring their words, can’t talk properly
  • Glazed eyes
  • They can be quite emotional
  • They do things they wouldn’t normally do
  • They have trouble walking in a straight line or falling over
  • They vomit
  • They might even pass out
How can I help
  • Stay with your friend. If you can’t be there, find another friend who can.
  • Encourage your friend to drink some water and have something to eat. 
  • Try and make sure they don’t drink any more alcohol. If your friend thinks that you’re just bossing them about, try suggesting that you both have a non-alcoholic drink or a bite to eat. You could walk to a 7-11 or someplace to get some food.
  • What do you do if they’re too drunk to eat or drink water? Help them to lie on their side, so if they vomit they don’t choke. Prop a pillow behind their back to prevent them from rolling onto their back or stomach. This is really important.
  • Go home with them to make sure they are safe. It might even be a good idea to stay over and keep an eye on them.

If your friend passes out and you can’t wake them up, call an ambulance. The person on the phone will tell you exactly what to do while they’re on their way. The ambulance officers will not get you in trouble for underage drinking, or get the police involved.

What if they just won’t listen? Or they’re being really difficult?

Firstly, don’t bother arguing with a drunk person. Waste of time. Drunk people often do stupid things. Sometimes these things might be funny, but often they can be very frustrating or even hurtful. 

If the way your friend is behaving is hurting you, there is no point in saying it to them while they’re still drunk. Due to the alcohol’s effect, if they don’t like what you’re saying they just won’t accept it — they may even become more annoying, hurtful, and angry. Bring it up at a time when they are sober, as they are more likely to listen to you and understand how they made you feel. 

If you’re worried about your friend’s drinking, don’t bring it up when they’re drunk — again, wait for a time when you’re both sober and able to have this serious conversation.

What should I do if I think they might have alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning can happen when people drink too much. Signs include:

  • being confused
  • passing out
  • vomiting
  • shaking or seizures
  • slow or uneven breathing
  • low body temperature
  • looking pale or a bit blue

If your friend has any of these symptoms, call 000. The ambulance officers will not get you in trouble for underage drinking, or get the police involved.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, talk to someone you trust about it. 

  • Talk to a parent, teacher or school counsellor
  • Speak to a counsellor on the phone or online at eHeadspace
  • Call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015 for confidential addiction support

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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