Looking after a drunk friend

Having a night out is a good time until you’re left holding your mate’s hair back as they chun into your toilet. All we can say is that this creates a bond that can never be broken. We’re here to help you through those rougher moments and (more importantly) to help you get crowned mate of the year for looking after their drunk arses.

Three young people are walking on a field. They are wearing masks. They are discussing their drunk friend from last night. This is a wide-angle image.

How to know if  your mate’s too drunk

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

Step one: Make them aware that they’re drunk 

Once you’ve identified that they’re drunk, the key is not to make them feel foolish or embarrassed. Instead, pull them aside and suggest they put down the drinks for the night. As an incentive, show them 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 just slowing down their alcohol intake.

Step Two: Elect to get them home safely 

The boozing has to end at some point – 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 it if they’re about to pass out. At that point, food’ll just increase the chance of them choking on their own vomit. 

What’s the best way to get a drunk friend home? 

Some fresh air and movement can help a drinker sober up. Just consider whether walking back is safe. If your mate is one of those drunk friends who forget their road-side manner entirely, or likes to throw insults at police or passing strangers, you might be better off calling an Uber. If so, make sure the window is open, and be prepared to ask the driver to stop in a hurry if it looks like your mate’s about to redecorate the interior.

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

After 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 be happy that you woke them, but ultimately you’re doing it for the sake of your friend’s welfare – and they’ll understand this. If your drunk friend lives alone 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 friends 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 also 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 999 immediately. It might save a life and you won’t face any repercussions.

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.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 12-Aug-2021