Worried that you or your friend might have a drinking problem? If you answer yes to one or more of these warning signs, there may be an alcohol problem that needs to be addressed.

If any of these warnings sound uncomfortably familiar, please
seek help for yourself or your friend. For referrals, talk to your school nurse or other trusted healthcare professional. You may also call the following hotlines: the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at 1-800-662-HELP (662-4357) or the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Crisis Line at 1-800-234-0420. For information, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.


Not everyone is drinking. Research shows that 70% of people ages 12-20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.

Alcohol comes in many forms, but one thing doesn't change: If you are under 21, it’s illegal for you to purchase or possess alcohol.

If Your Friend Has a Drinking Problem

First, it’s not your fault. Do not blame yourself for your friend’s drinking problem. Ultimately, it’s up to your friend to change his behavior. You can’t do that for him. (We’re using the male pronoun, but girls have drinking problems, too.)

Second, bravo! You're a good friend for recognizing the problem and trying to help.

Third, don’t take on this burden alone. There are many adults who can help you figure out the best approach. Talk to a trusted family member, teacher, SADD advisor, coach, school counselor, student assistance professional, family doctor, school nurse, or faith leader.

Discuss your concern when your friend isn’t high. Your friend may get angry with you, tell you to mind your own business, or may deny he has a problem. That’s common. And one conversation rarely does the trick. It may take several discussions before your friend understands how serious you are about this drinking problem. Don’t give up if he doesn’t immediately stop drinking. Here are some tips to help you with this tough conversation.

Drinking too much isn’t just illegal; it can be deadly.

Alcohol poisoning* occurs when the blood alcohol level (the percentage of alcohol circulating in the bloodstream) rises to a danger point, causing a person to lose consciousness and slip into a coma. In the worst cases, the drinker dies.

Here are some signs of alcohol poisoning.

Here’s what to do if your friend shows signs of alcohol poisoning.

Here’s what NOT to do if you think your friend has alcohol poisoning.

* A Note on Terminology:
Alcohol poisoning – Some people say that referring to an alcohol overdose as alcohol poisoning is inaccurate and misleading. These people say that “poisoning” implies that a third party intervened to “poison” the individual when, really, an alcohol overdose is usually the choice of the individual.

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