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You may skip some of the steps, but the end is always the same.

The 7 Stages of Taking Care of Drunk Friends

Dealing with Your Drunk Friends

You may skip some of the steps, but the end is always the same.

By Amy Garcia, Johns Hopkins University


There are certain friends that you don’t invite to your casual Thursday night out, since they tend to be the one you always have to stop from calling their ex, hitting on the wrong people, fighting the wrong peoples’ significant others, puking in the sink, etc.

Unfortunately, that person is also the one who really wants to come out with you on Thursday, so you take a deep breath and accept the inevitable turn your night as taken.

The 7 Stages of Taking Care of Drunk FriendsOften though, the friend you end up taking care of wasn’t someone you actually anticipated needing your assistance. Maybe she didn’t tell you about the rough patch in her relationship, and suddenly two drinks later she’s crying on your shoulder. Or perhaps she just severely underestimated the consequences of telling the bartender to “surprise her” for her next drink.

Either way, you end up being the mother to a friend in need. As frustrating as the entire ordeal can be, you can also guarantee the certain stages of intoxication your friend will reach, and your role in said stage.

1. Initial Warnings

You may not know the turn the night will take, but when you retrace your steps the next morning you will remember key phrases your friend uttered before you had even left the pregame, such as “I think there’s more vodka than mixed drink in this” and “Where’s my other shoe?”

2. Pregame Problems

When you’ve first noticed that your friend is drunker than anyone else at the pregame, you usually try to stop them, since you haven’t even left for your main destination yet. Unfortunately, this is when the exorcist voice emerges: “I’m not drunk!” You will hear these three words many times tonight. If you played a drinking game with those words, you too would end up on the floor.

3. Transportation

There are two different options here. Depending on the campus or simply the night, you may just be walking to your next destination or taking an Uber. Either way, this is tricky.

Your friend can’t walk, and no one wants campus security watching you attempt to hold your friend upright across the street as he chugs his bottle of Jack Daniels like it’s his baby bottle. Then again, you also don’t really want your Uber driver to see him acting his way either. Your friends debate whether or not it’s legal to be drinking straight alcohol in a car, and either way, would it be worth the argument to tear the bottle away from him in the first place?

4. Arrival

You encounter varying problems, whether or not you are arriving to a party or to a bar. Immediately you tell your host how sorry you are that your friend is stealing a lampshade to put on her head and grabbing random strangers and telling them how beautiful they are.

You have to follow her around to ensure she won’t trip down the stairs or run into a door.

The larger problems, of course, is if your destination was a bar. The bouncer checking your ID will typically notice you holding your friend upright, and may even send your whole group home. In which case, she owes you even more. On the off chance that you do get in the bar due to a lack of competent bouncers, you are immediately focused on the idea that you don’t get kicked out.

Typical catchphrases you will yell at this time will be similar, but not limited to “No, you can’t lie down on three barstools,” and “Please stop eating that table’s wings – we don’t know them!”

5. Inevitable Decline

You would like to think that this would just be the worst of it: following your friend around to ensure that the night won’t end in embarrassment or someone arrested. Of course, this would be too easy.

You’re not perfect; you’re going to get distracted and decide to say a word or two to your other friends at the party, or maybe even have to go to the bathroom like a regular human being.

In those split seconds of your divided attention, your friend will seize the opportunity. “Yes of course I should call my ex boyfriend.” “Yes of course I should pee on the sidewalk outside.” “Yes of course I should pour my drink all over the person next to me.” “Yes of course I should shove this other guy as I try to get myself another drink.”

By the time you refocus on your task, the situation has already spiraled out of control. Your friend is screaming and crying on the phone with her ex. Your friend has been caught peeing outside by the bouncer. Your friend is in a fight with that guy on whom he poured a drink or shoved or did any number of things that warrants a drunk fight. Now, somehow, it becomes your job to end it.

6. Munchies

While you are well aware it’s time to take your friend home, this becomes impossible as the only way to drag them home is to tell them that you will of course stop at Taco Bell or Subway or any horribly-bad-for-you food chain that is open at 3:30 am. Your friend, of course, left their wallet on the side of the street along with their ID, keys, a precious family heirloom, one of their shoes and their dignity, so you will have to spot them.

7. Home

Finally, you have arrived. After such an exhausting night, you can’t wait to pass out and forget this entire ordeal happened in the morning. You can’t though, because your friend just barfed all over your kitchen floor and your dog, so now you have to deal with that too.

Sometimes, your friend will skip any number of these stages, and simply end up at Stage 7 at any point. Honestly, those nights are usually better. Then you can go to bed earlier.

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