Partying and going out to bars to socialize and hear some good music are fun and common ways for college students to enjoy themselves and their friends. Relaxation and going out are the counterpart to studying hard and striving for good grades. However, for some students partying and friendships become the focus of their college experience at the expense of what they are really paying the school to do for them.  Entertainment and spending time with friends getting blasted become the main focus of their college lives.

It is also not uncommon for addictions to begin to surface during this time.  While there is a significant difference between experimentation, social use, occasional heavy use and abuse of alcohol and drugs, this difference may not be obvious when we are younger because almost everybody is engaging in some of these behaviors.

The bottom line is that you have to figure out how to deal with situations with your friends that are highly embarrassing and uncomfortable for you.  One thing is for sure—it almost never works to confront someone when they are drunk or high or to get someone in that state to stop doing whatever they are doing once their mental state and behavior are already out of control. In truth, your only real option is to decide how you are going to maintain enough practical independence to disengage when you find yourself in these situations.

If you are out with friends and they have driven, your options are pretty limited. You can disengage and walk home (if it’s not too far), you can ask another friend who isn’t drunk or high to drive you home or you can call a cab.  Drive in a separate car, take the new light rail in town or take the downtown area bus if you can.  Regardless, the point I am making is that you have a right to remove yourself from this type of situation and doing so is the best option in most such situations.

Of course, a lot of times sober friends feel a strong obligation to provide care for their really drunk friends. You may worry about their welfare or that their out of control behavior is going to get them into trouble.  You can make the effort to get your friend to go home with you, but you should absolutely NOT allow them to drive. You can drive them in your car or theirs or call a sober friend or a cab.  However, if your friend refuses to leave with you, you can ask them one more time but then you have to face the facts and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

At another time when all of you are sober, you really need to talk about your concerns. If he or she minimizes and denies the awkwardness of the situation and isn’t willing or able to change their behavior, you have the option of socializing with them in non-alcohol, non-drug social environments.  If this turns out to be impossible, that is, if they insist on drinking and drugging pretty much anywhere you go and even when you are hanging out with them in their dorm room or apartment, you will have to decide whether the friendship(s) are worth maintaining and perhaps let them go.

It is a sad and unfortunate situation when friends become out of control with drugs and alcohol, but it’s more important to maintain your personal independence and healthy behavior than to cling to particular friendships with people who are on a path of self-destruction. It is all too easy to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and get caught in the fallout of a bad situation.