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How to Help a Friend in Trouble

Student on campusIf you have a friend in trouble, it’s time to step in and help. After all, college is a major change that many students cannot handle without some help from a good friend.

Whether your friend is dealing with an eating disorder, battling depression or partying too much, you can help using the following tips.

Find Ways to Relate

Many people feel a lot better to know others have gone through a tough situation and survived. I know this usually comforts me during a difficult time, so if you feel your friend is the same way, tell him about the time you struggled with a similar problem.

If you cannot come up with any personal tales, simply telling your friend about someone you know of in the same situation can help. If the outcome was positive, be sure to let your friend know since this can offer some hope.

Even a negative outcome in a story can be used to teach a lesson. For example, if someone you know ended up seriously ill or injured due to an eating disorder or excessive drinking, your friend may benefit from knowing the result.

Of course, use discretion with this tactic. If your friend wants to get help and is already scared of the consequences of failing to quit harmful behavior, telling him a cautionary tale with a bad outcome may not be a good idea.

Offer Alternatives

Helping a friend in trouble means making some sacrifices, but the result is worth it. Your friend may rely on you to keep him on the right track as he tries to make some life changes. This means you may have to change your own lifestyle until your friend gets better.

For example, if your friend parties too much, you can suggest staying in your dorm and playing video games or watching a movie on a Friday night.

If you have a friend in college who has no money and is a shopaholic, rather than going to the mall together, you should find something to do that does not cost money. Soon enough, your friends in trouble will see there is more to life than their harmful habits.

Suggest Counseling

If you have not gotten through to your friend, or if you feel he needs additional help, you can suggest he see a professional. If your friend seems open to the idea, you can offer to lend your support by accompanying him to the campus health center.

A friend in trouble will benefit greatly from just knowing you are there. Your support may mean the difference between your friend continuing the negative behavior and getting help staying healthy and safe in college.

If you suspect your friend is beyond help from a peer or counselor, you should get some additional assistance. For instance, if you think your friend is depressed and about to commit suicide or plans to hurt someone else, you should contact the police, campus security or even your friend’s parents.

Sometimes, a friend in trouble needs serious help, while other times he may just need a shoulder to lean on.

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