Helping a drunk friend

It's a good idea to look out for your friend if they're drunk. You can help them in a range of ways. There are some dangers to alcohol that mean it's important to look after a friend if they have been drinking a lot. You might also like to consider some of the things you can say to them afterwards.

This could be for you if: 

  • You or someone you know drinks a lot 
  • You want to know how to help a drunk friend
  • You've had to look after your drunk friends
cups of beer

How can I tell if my friend needs help?

Heavily drunk people often: 

  • Can't talk properly, and have glazed eyes 
  • Act strangely and do stuff they wouldn't usually do 
  • Tend to vomit
  • Fall over or run into things, and can't walk straight
  • Pass out
If your friend is doing these things, they could use your help. 

What do I do?

The most important thing to do when a friend is seriously drunk is to stick with them. If you can’t be there, make sure another friend who isn't as drunk as they are, stays with them. 

It’s worth suggesting to your friend that they eat something or drink a non-alcoholic drink. Try to make sure that they don't drink any more alcohol. Taking them to get food can be a good way of slowing down their drinking without it seeming like you’re trying to tell them what to do. 

If your friend wants to lie down, make sure they're on their side, with something behind their back to prevent rolling over onto the back or stomach. It’s important to do this because if they vomit while lying on their back, they can choke.

Try to make sure your friend makes it home okay even if it means having them stay over at your place for the night. 

If your friend loses consciousness and can't be woken, call an ambulance. Find out more about what to do in an emergency situation.

How do I know if my friend is in trouble?

Sometimes being drunk is relatively harmless and just results in a hangover the next day. However, situations where a person is unable to make clear decisions, can’t speak clearly or are really sick or passed out, are really risky. Alcohol poisoning can happen as a result of excess drinking and has the potential to do serious damage to physical health. Signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Mental confusion, passing out or even comas
  • Vomiting 
  • Seizures/shaking
  • Slow or irregular breathing 
  • Low body temperature, paleness and blue skin
You should call 000 if any of these happen to someone you're with.

Afterwards

If you're worried about your friend, or annoyed that they ruined your night, say something to them another time – there's nothing to be gained by arguing with them while they're drunk.

If you’re worried about your friends drinking or if they get seriously drunk on a regular basis, you might want to talk to them about it some time when you’re both feeling a bit better. Check out our fact sheet on communication to find out more about how to have difficult conversations.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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