Alcohol and other drug misuse impacts your health on many levels.  This means that if you know a fellow Marine who is struggling personally and professionally, this Marine probably needs your help, especially if problematic behavioral issues are apparent. If you believe a Marine is struggling with a substance abuse or misuse problem, talk with them. Getting the conversation started can seem hard, but with these tips, you can get your fellow Marines help when they need it.  

When should you talk with your fellow Marine?

Don’t try to talk when the Marine is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Instead, talk when he or she is clearheaded. One approach is to reach out when the Marine may be hungover or remorseful following a drinking or drug-related incident and the negative consequences are still fresh.

How do you get that important conversation started?

Don't worry about saying things perfectly. Expressing your concern in a caring and honest way is the best approach as the Marine might be feeling embarrassed and frustrated with the behavior too.

Where should this conversation take place?

Make sure you talk with them somewhere neutral and non-threatening.

What should you say?

  • Be supportive. Don’t blame or criticize.
  • Be specific about what you’re seeing. Bring up particular incidents that you’ve observed. It’s helpful to frame the conversation by using “I” phrases, such as “I noticed” or “I’m worried” because your perceptions and feelings are harder for the Marine to dispute.
  • Be encouraging. Talk about the effect the Marine’s drinking or drug misuse has on whatever he or she cares about most: the Marine Corps, friends, family, etc.
  • Be prepared. You might want to write down what you want to say. The main thing is to stick to the facts, show a caring attitude, and offer your assistance and support.

Here are some examples of what you might say to your fellow Marine:

  • “I care about you and I’m concerned about your health. Drinking too much or doing drugs puts you at higher risk for medical, social, and professional challenges.”
  • “How can I support you?" 
  • “Talk to me when you want a drink or to do drugs. Whenever you feel the urge, you can call me instead.”

What to do if the Marine isn’t ready for help?

Don’t be surprised, and don’t take it personally. If you feel you’re not getting through, it’s not your fault. It’s okay to let the Marine know that whenever he or she is ready for help, you’ll be there.

If you or someone you know is having issues with drug or alcohol misuse, visit your local Substance Abuse Program or check out the Military OneSource resources available.