Mental health challenges can include problems with alcohol, drugs or other substances. Sometimes alcohol or substance use is a way to cope with troubling thoughts and feelings. Other times, it may start out as a way of having fun or socializing with friends, but develop into a need to continue and start to interfere with daily life.

In this section, you’ll find some helpful tips on how to support a friend if you’re concerned about their alcohol or substance use.


  • Talk to your friend when they are sober and not high.
  • Tell your friend what you feel and what you’ve noticed about their behaviour.
  • Express your concern for your friend’s well-being. For example, you could say “Last night you drank a lot more than you usually do. I got worried because you seemed so out of control.”
  • It is important to bring up problems that could occur as a result of your friend’s drinking or drug use. Use concrete examples whenever you can. For example, “I’m worried about you because  it seems you’re partying a lot these days.” or “I’m worried that one of these times, you’ll get hurt or in trouble.”
  • Talk about the changes you see in your friend after they have been drinking or using drugs. For example, “I love your sense of humour, but when you drink you get sarcastic and it’s hurtful.”
  • Be sure to let them know you like them as a person – it’s the behaviours you don’t like. For example, “I think you’re a great person, but when you use alcohol or drugs, the smallest thing can make you flip out and become aggressive.”
  • Your friend may not think they have a problem or that their alcohol or substance use is having a negative effect on their life. They may become very defensive – don’t take this personally. You may be the first person to say something about it to them or they may not be ready to make a change. If they are open to finding out more, suggest they take the alcohol self-check or drug and other substance use self-check on
  • If they continue to use alcohol or other substances and it makes you uncomfortable to be around them, you may have to decide whether the friendship is one you want to maintain.

If a friend is interested in reducing or stopping their alcohol or drug use, you can:

  • Suggest they check out the Alcohol Use  or Substance Use sections on
  • Help them to find ways of having fun that don’t involve alcohol or other drugs.
  • If you think they may need more support, suggest they talk to an adult or check out phone and online chat options to anonymously speak with a trained professional or volunteer.