Alex's Answer

Our friend is abusing alcohol

Your Question

I never thought my friend had a problem with alcohol, she was just a girl who liked to party (like many of our friends) but recently a few people have expressed their concerns for her to me, and I share their views. I have recently realised that my friend struggles to say no. She is the life of the party (in school as well) and knows everyone. She is a fun outgoing and talkative girl who is friends with everyone. So naturally when we are at parties together she is offered sips of people’s drinks often. She is also a lightweight. In recent weeks when she is notified that there will be alcohol at a prior to an event she will lie about eating beforehand. She has drank on Monday nights and has gotten so bad that she can’t speak. The following week she did the same thing , but threw up for the 1st time (due to alcohol intake) she said she felt better afterwards, this was at maybe 7pm. Then a last minute party was organised , my close group of friends told her she shouldn’t go. And even between getting sick, she was adamant to go. This obviously meant that we would accompany her. She promised she wouldn’t drink, and low and behold she sourced some from somewhere (one of her many “friends”). Her family also has a history with alcohol addiction, so this is another reason for concern. She told us she was practicing making cocktails, by herself on a Friday. We, her closest friends are getting more and more concerned. We have a wider friend group as well, some of which are just beginning to drink. They also crave attention from others and their main goal is to be seen as “ cool”, they think that they can achieve this by drinking with (my friends name). Therefore they romanticise the act of drinking and encourage her to drink more and more and more… We ( as the inner circle and her close friends, don’t know what to do ) we know that others will push her into doing something she doesn’t was to do. When she’s drink and can’t move, her eyes speak. She is scared you can see it. She is trying to communicate but can’t do so for to the alcohol consumed. We know we need to talk to her about this, before it progresses any further, but are unsure how to go about it. Although it may seem like it from what I said m, but she is not an alcoholic. She is alcohol dependent. How people perceive her is important to her. She feels as if she is not the happy bubbly outgoing girl all the time, people won’t like her. I think she is using alcohol to mute her “bad” feelings so she can relish in the “good” ones. At this moment in time I think that the idea of being somewhere without the crutch of alcohol, is scarier to her than overdoing and getting blackout drink and harming herself (and loved ones). The final thing that I should probably mention is that she is gay. She is the only girl in our whole year that is confident in being out. People see her as the “trophy lesbian” and tend to take advantage of her when she’s not in a good state. I think she is scared that is she isn’t happy and the life of the party that people will look past that exterior and fully grasp that she likes girls. And maybe treat her differently because of that? My friend is book smart not street smart. And she is inedibly intelligent and the smartest person that I know, our age. But recently she’s been doing not so well in tests and classes that she’d usually get 80s and upwards no problem. I’m scared what effects this will have on her in the future if she continues like this. Me and my friends have no experience with this, and need help


Hi there and welcome to Ask Alex,

You have told us about a friend of yours who is using alcohol very often and in high proportion. You have told us you are worried she is developing an addiction, which is present in her family already, and that she is using alcohol to cope with insecurities and other worries she might have. You are asking for help for you and your friends in dealing with this.

Before we get to answering your message, we want to say thank you. It is not easy to come forward and express how worried we are about something or someone else. It seems you have been through a lot already and that this situation is getting out of hand. Even so, it looks like you want to keep on helping and solve the issue yourselves. Although that says a lot about you and your friends, the truth is you need the help of adults with this situation. Alcohol misuse is serious and people who struggle with substance misuse need medical and psychological support.

We are wondering if you have reached out to a trusting adult about this. Trusting adults can be your parents or other family members you feel comfortable with, a teacher, or a coach. Anyone you can think of that could support you in this matter, that will listen and take further steps to keep this girl safe. We understand that this girl’s family has a substance misuse issue as well, but it would be important to let the parents know about what’s happening to their daughter. This is something that the trusting adult can do for you. If her parents fail at looking out for supports for their daughter, it could be raised as a child protection issue to Túsla, the child and family agency in Ireland. Again, you would need an adult to report to Túsla.

As friends you can support her too, but you need to consider your own well-being when doing so and your own limitations, as we can only help as much as someone lets us. We cannot take over their decision making, we cannot make someone else change, but we can talk to them about our worries, communicate to them how we feel when we see them under the influence and offer them to chat, to accompany them to ask for help, to be there for them. It will be their choice to take our hand, we have no power over that.

It can be frustrating, and it can make us feel hurt to see a friend mistreating themselves using substances. Before we can be there for someone else, we need to put our own mask first, and when it comes to an issue like substance misuse, we need, as we said before, trusting adults to support us and the person who is misusing. Trying to support your friend without adult help could do more harm than good. We strongly suggest that you seek help as soon as possible.

There are services all around the country dedicated to support young people struggling with substance misuse. We do not know from which county you are writing to us, but the HSE has a list of services classified by county that you can check in their website:

Some of these services have a helpline that you could use to get some more advice if you wished to. Here is an article from the Childline website that may also provide some guidance for you and your friend

Please know that Childline is here for you all too. The listening service is available for any young person up to the age of 18 who needs someone to talk to, every day of the year, 24/7. We can be reached calling at 1800 66 66 66 or through the Live Chat on our website

We hope this helps and, please, do not hesitate to reach out to us to us again if you needed further support.

Take care of yourselves,


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