Looking after a drunk friend

From weaving into traffic to starting impossible fights, and even dealing with a case of unconsciousness, here's how to manage a friend who's had one too many.

Boy holding girls hair out of the way while she vomits into a toilet

We've all been there

Are they too drunk?

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve consumed too much alcohol, often it’s the people around you who are first to notice. So, if you’re out with someone who has begun to talk loudly, slur their words, or become a little excitable or unstable on their feet, it might be time to step in.

Make them aware that they’re drunk

The key is not to make them feel foolish or embarrassed. Instead, have a quiet word and suggest they call a halt to their alcohol intake. As an incentive, flag up the fact that you’re both having a good time, so why risk spoiling it by boozing any more? If they’re not keen to call it a night, suggest switching to soft drinks instead, grabbing a snack, or even simply slowing down their alcohol intake.

Elect to get them home safely

The party has to come to a close at some stage – whether your mate has seen reason, or you’ve nowhere else to keep drinking. Whatever the case, don’t let them stumble off alone. Stick together, keep them walking if needs be, and also use your judgement as to whether some food might help. If they’re just a bit tipsy then eating can only help to absorb the alcohol in their system, but don’t risk if it if they’re so hammered you think they’re close to losing consciousness.

What’s the best way to get them home?

Some fresh air and physical exercise can often help a drinker sober up. Just consider whether walking back is safe. If your mate is one of those drunks who forget their road sense entirely, or likes to throw insults at police or passing strangers, you might be better off grabbing a taxi. If so, make sure the window is open, and be prepared to ask them to stop in a hurry if it looks like they’re about to redecorate the interior.

Let someone know they’re in a state, or stay with them

Once you’ve reached your destination, don’t leave them to their own devices. If they’re living at home, or sharing a house or flat, inform someone there of the situation. They might not thank you for waking them up, but ultimately you’re doing it for the sake of your friend’s welfare – and they will understand this. If your mate lives alone, and is in a rough state, consider staying the night to keep an eye on them. If you have to help them to bed, put them in the recovery position as a precaution.

Dealing with a drunk mate emergency

Different factors affect the impact of alcohol on an individual. Everything from how much they’ve drunk to when they last ate, their physical shape and health can play a role, which means the effects from boozing can sometimes take people by surprise.

Vomiting, fainting and loss of consciousness are all associated with alcohol misuse. If you’re with someone who stops having a good time, and goes from bad to worse, some simple first aid steps could save their life.

Ambulance alert

If you’re really worried about a mate who has drunk too much then call an ambulance immediately. It might save a life and you won’t get into trouble.

Photo of boy helping girl vomit by Shutterstock

Next Steps

  • Drinkaware offers advice and information on alcohol and your drinking habits.
  • Are you drinking too much? Drinkaware has a useful self assessment tool to help you discover if your drinking habits are healthy, or something to worry about.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015