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Unsure how to approach this situation

I recently found that one of my close friends started drinking (underage) and hanging out with the wrong crowd over the holiday break. He's really not that way inclined and is generally a responsible person, but I think that his cousin is influencing him as I often see them both on snapchat stories drinking late into the night.

 

I'm not really sure how I should approach him about it. I know he cares about school and wants to do well in his HSC, but I just want to look out for him and make sure that he doesn't make the bad choices in front of him, yet I don't want to impede on his life or anything.

 

Should I just leave him be or talk with him? Even if I do talk with him, I don't really know what to say without sounding like an overprotective parent.

 

Any suggestions? It'd be much appreciated.

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Hey @unwind, that is one pretty tricky situation. I think it's great that you want to look out for him and his well-being (and that makes you a great friend for doing so), but at the same time I totally get you don't want to intrude too much into his life to the point you're being overprotective, am I on the right track here?

If I was in your situation, I think one way of going about this is to ask him how he is going/feeling over the holidays and just checking in if he is doing fine and let him know that you're there to support him if he needs it. That way you can check in on how he's doing without sounding overprotective. Does that make sense? Would you find this helpful?

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Yeah that's basically the situation @Esperanza67.

 

A few times this holidays I've just popped in on snapchat to ask how his holidays have been going and we've had a chat but I just feel awkward bringing up the fact that underage drinking never turns out good. I hope through our convos he can see that I'm open to talking about whatever whenever, but if I see that it gets more serious I think I will bring it up most likely in-person in a casual way.

 

What's really unfortunate is that most, if not all, of the people around me at school see mental health as a joke. I'm not sure if this is just the attitude they put on at school because they don't want to look "weak" but there is very little support if anyone is going through anything, on the very very rare chance that someone says something.

 

As selfish as it sounds, I don't want to have this backfire in my face where it becomes a joke in our friend group. All-boy Catholic high schools are really complicated when it comes to this stuff *insert headache emoticon here*

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

I really like @Esperanza67's suggestion! If you feel up to it, you could invite him to hang out somewhere? He might feel as if he doesn't have choice and that's why he's hanging out with this particular crowd. Sometimes getting out with a different crowd can help too, as if to 'shake people to their senses' or something haha.

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Hey @unwind, that really sucks that your school is not accepting of mental health Smiley Sad. I felt similar when I was in school which is why I wanted to study psychology to find out more and bring awareness to this stigma.

Is there anyone else that you can reach out to who is also aware of your friend's underage drinking? Perhaps they could check in on how your friend and make sure he is okay.

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Ninja'd!

 

"I just feel awkward bringing up the fact that underage drinking never turns out good"

--- Yeah, this is the thing. People tend to get defensive over stuff like this (they feel judged etc), and especially if it's said out-of-the-blue. You probably shouldn't even bring up the drinking over text imo; it's too easy to misinterpret each other. I agree that you should probably start the conversation in-person. Did you have any ideas on how to do that casually?

 

If there's something tough going on behind-the-scenes, you should be able to pick up on it pretty quickly. In which case, maybe ask a probing question (i.e. if he's been having a good hols / if there's anything rough going on) which opens an opportunity to talk if he wants. If your friend is struggling with something, he WILL appreciate you checking in. It shouldn't become a joke unless you come across as pushy because that is weird. But an exchange like "Hey is everything okay?" // "Uh yeah...?" // "Oh okay.. DID YOU SEE WHAT SO-AND-SO POSTED?" shouldn't cause anything. The convo just moves on, nothing awkward.

 

An interesting tidbit, boys your age do get emotional --- just never when other boys are around! You might've noticed; they tend to talk about the tough things with their girlfriends. I only had about 7ish boys in my grade, but it turns out that over half had considered suicide or had significant eating / personality disorders from as early as Yr9. So it does exist. We just never talked about it until senior. Smiley Frustrated

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Yeah, I lightly brought up the topic with a close friend of mine and his about an hour, he didn't seem to worry about it too much though @Esperanza67. All he said was "haha, I mean I ain't got anything against it". :/

 

Yep.. yep.. yep @nyke, he's someone who takes offense quite quickly. We're going bowling for a New Year's celebration kind of thing, so if the time comes up then I'll bring it up. If not, I'll probably wait until school's back in swing because I won't want to ruin the mood at bowling.

 

Thankfully though, I don't think there's anything he's upset about or anything of that nature. It's more that I'm conscious that kids my age tend to make not-so-good decision when peer-pressure and alcohol are mixed.

 

And just a side-note to your other comment, a few close people at school know that I struggle mainly with anxiety and it's fascinating to see that they often are the ones who tell me things that they don't want me to repeat, almost like the barriers break down a bit. It should happen more often :/

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Oh man I haven't been bowling in years! Have fun @unwind!!

 

You could possibly acknowledge the drinking at bowling by saying something like "You've been getting out quite a bit over the hols! Smiley Very Happy" in a positive way, to see how he feels about the situation? If you stay positive about it then shouldn't kill the mood or anything. Then you'd know if he's happy / comfortable about the drinking or not, so you can decide how / if you want to bring it up again in future (i.e. once school starts back up)?

 

It sounds like people find you trustworthy and approachable! That's neat. It's funny how being the first one to break down the barriers can sorta make you the focal point if people need support haha

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Yeah, thanks @nyke - I'll bring it up like that. A question though, you say "comfortable about the drinking or not", what should I do if I see that he's totally comfortable drinking? I mean we've had a lot of those talks where people come in and discuss various topics that teens face + how to avoid them, so he knows the dangers.

 

Idk, I feel weird. I'm finding it hard to draw the line between his own personal life and the well-being of people around me.

 

(maybe I'm just overthinking this whole thing as usual, so if I am, please feel free to tell me Smiley LOL)

Re: Unsure how to approach this situation

Haha yeah, we might be overthinking it @unwind. Your intuition sounds great so just follow that, you'd be fine. Ultimately this is your friend's choice and you can't force him to do anything, so that'd be the biggest thing to remember. Beside, some people only ever learn from their own experiences! Who knows?

For this reason, if he has no regrets, you might like to leave it alone. Alternatively, you could just ask questions (i.e. what's it like? // how many do you take? // have you ever drunk too much?) if you're genuinely interested; it allows both of you to reflect.

Just thought of this -- it IS important to consider how you might react if your friend offers you a drink / invites you to hang out while he's drinking. I don't think there's a right or wrong reaction here, but you do need to find your own boundaries and once you do, people tend to respect them.