Posted: 28 March 2013

Looking out for your mates

If you are worried about your mates drug or alcohol use- say something! Here are some tips on how to start the conversation:

  1. Plan your approach. Being angry, judgmental and derogatory about an issue may discourage them from listening to you or taking your concerns seriously.
  2.  Get informed about the drug before you say something.
  3.  When – Try not to raise your concerns in the middle of a session or when both of you are intoxicated or about to rack up another line. Obviously if you are worried about someone’s immediate safety, then say something on the spot. Try to pick a time when you are both sober, are somewhere quiet, and have enough time to have a conversation.
  4.  Why – Problems with drugs, if they are spotted early, are often easier to address – just by pulling back, slowing down or taking a break. Trying to do things when someone is depressed, ill or dependent on a drug is harder. The earlier you say something the easier it is.
  5. Where – Don’t start the conversation in a crowded placed or where you are surrounded by other mates, It’s too easy to deflect the issue on to others or to feel like they are being picked on. Pick a time when you are engaged in another non-drug related activity, e.g playing sport/watching a movie.
  6. How – Start by being positive about that person – their qualities, the reason you are mates, your history and how they have looked out for you.
  7. What – Express that you are worried, but you are not sure if you need to be. Make sure you focus on behaviours or actions, not the person. For example, reflect back to a recent event or series of events that made you worried and ask for their view. Ask them what they think.
  8.  Don’t get into arguments about their drug use, yours or others’. Everyone is different, some people run into problems earlier or more easily than others. The conversation is about your concerns for them. Don’t expect change to occur over night and if they get angry, leave it and come back to it another time.
  9. Lead by example. If you are regular drug-using friends you might want to offer to share a period of reduced use to support them.
  10. End your conversation by saying thank you. Tell them that you only mentioned it because you care and that you can imagine it might not have been easy to listen to. Say you hope that if they ever have worries about you they they would say something. Offer to help and support them in any way you can.

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