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Friends look out for each other, and that’s especially important when you’ve been drinking. Drinking alcohol involves some very real risks. If one of your friends is in a bad way, there are things you can do to help keep them safe. You may also want to know how to talk to them afterwards if you have concerns about their drinking.

This can help 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.
Girl tipsy talking to her two friends

How can I tell if my friend needs help?

Your friend may need your help if they:

  • can't talk properly and have glazed eyes
  • are acting strangely and doing stuff they wouldn't normally do
  • are vomiting
  • are falling over or running into things, or can't walk straight
  • have passed out.

What should I do?

Be there for them

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

Stop the booze and start the food

Try to get your friend to eat something, or to drink a non-alcoholic drink. If possible, prevent them from drinking any more alcohol. Taking them to get something to eat can be a good way of slowing down their drinking without it seeming like you’re trying to tell them what to do.

Recovery position

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

Get them home safely

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

Get help

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, excessive drinking can cause alcohol poisoning, which can potentially cause your friend some serious damage. The following are signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • mental confusion, passing out or coma
  • vomiting
  • seizures/shaking
  • slow or irregular breathing
  • low body temperature, paleness and blue skin.

Call 000 if your friend is experiencing any of these symptoms.

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.

When it’s a regular thing

If you’re worried about your friend’s drinking, or if they get seriously drunk on a regular basis, you might want to talk to them about it sometime when you’re both feeling a bit better. Check out info on communication for how to have a difficult conversation.

What can I do now?