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Read responses from our expert psychologist, to some of the most commonly faced issues
The questions and answers below on this page help provide advice to others who may be in a similar situation. Please note the advice provided on this page is of a general nature and not specific to any individual or personal circumstance.
Please do not send questions raising urgent issues. If you need help, see our contact details for free counselling services.
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- After a drunken incident last night my best friend wants nothing more to do with me. We are 16 and last night we went out and had way too much to drink. One of the boys in our group was so drunk he passed out and we had to call an ambulance. Others who were even more drunk than us and started trying to kick the front door of the boy who called 000. I was frightened and I rang my best friend's mum and she came to get us. We all went home in her car along with another friend and her boyfriend. I wasn't planning on telling my parents but then we heard that the boy whose front door got kicked in had rung the police. He had to give all our names, so I told my parents before the police did. When I rang my best friend this morning she went mental because I told my parents that she was drinking as well. She says they will never act the same around her and also that I should not have called her mum out. She got into trouble and blames me. Everything I did was just to keep her safe as well as me, but she won’t listen. She says she feels like punching me. Everyone in the group apparently hates me and I have no idea how they will treat me in school. I don’t want to be by myself. My dad says to hang around with someone else but it's not that easy because they were my only friends. No-one else in my year likes me. What can I do?
Your friends don't yet seem to understand how lucky you've all been. The situation you describe could easily have gone from bad to a lot worse – especially with so much alcohol around to cloud people's judgment and fuel over the top behaviour. How many of them would have had the clarity to accurately gauge the level of risk you were all in that night? To see the potential for damage to property, violence, more people becoming sick and some even hurt? To imagine how much more trouble all of you could have gotten into if you had just stuck around as things deteriorated, and outraged parents and police were later confronted with even greater chaos? Thank goodness you and whoever it was that called the ambulance were there and had the presence of mind to 'get' that things could quickly turn ugly. The sad thing about all this is that – far from being grateful for your quick thinking in helping them get out of a sticky situation – your friends don't even see why you did it, let alone appreciate it. When you weigh up your actions from a protective or harm reduction perspective, it appears that you've made very good decisions under very challenging circumstances. Anyone who cares about the wellbeing of you and your friends would agree, including the parents of all those you helped get home. However, some friends may not yet be able to see that bigger, more important picture. They seem to be more hung up about short-term hassles with parents, and may be letting themselves imagine that you've panicked and over-reacted, while they would've stayed cool and just gone with the flow of things. If that is their view it seems a shallow, short-sighted and unrealistic view of what really went on.
The more alcohol people consume, the less able they are to correctly interpret what's going on around them, and they are more willing to engage in greater the risks and more extreme the behaviours. It could be that, even though your friends are sober now, they were too drunk to ever get the true extent of what was going down last night. They might have underestimated the negatives and overestimated their abilities to handle them, and so may not really understand why you did what you did. Beyond this, your best friends' reactions the following day still seem a little irrational: after all it was not you who told the police the names of everyone that was there that night. If the police already know both of you were at the incident and everyone was drinking, does your friend really think your parents wouldn't have found this out too sooner or later? What if you hadn't called anyone to get you guys out of there when you did, and the police arrived to find you all there? Would your friend have preferred that?! Do any of your friends believe that any of their parents would be too surprised to know that any of their 16-year-olds get access to alcohol and get drunk from time to time? Meanwhile, if the police do contact all of you, is it OK that your friends mum has the 'inside' information needed to properly support her daughter, but that your parents are kept in the dark – and so unable to support you – if things get more intense? Is there nobody in your group who would see the sense in what you did last night, or even recognise you acted out of the best intentions? If not, their reactions appear unreasonable and too much like over reactions. They do not appear to be based on a clear view of things at present. Your best friend in particular may be responding from a combination of panic, frustration, and some of the mood hangover of the 'day after'. As frustrating and upsetting as it sounds, you may need to give her time and space to settle down. While she may not agree that you made the right decision, she should hopefully come to realise that you made it for the right reasons.
It is very difficult when we act out of the best intentions and on the basis of our best judgement, but people we care about don't seem to understand our actions, and even hold them against us. Tough decisions can often be the right ones, but can just as often be very unpopular ones. It takes courage, insight and maturity to hear the voices of conscience and intuition in chaotic situations - let alone listen to them. You went further and acted upon them. There is little doubt that your best friend and others will one day understand and accept the steps you took last night – even if they don't necessarily agree that they would have done the same thing. In fact, contrary to your best friends reports, there may even be some who were there that night (or others who have been in similar situations and are reading this now) who would be totally with you on this. Let's hope the rest are mature enough to see things from your point of view sometime soon. If not, the unkind and unfair among them could make things difficult for you for a while. As tough as that can be, it's one way to work out who your real friends are, aren't, or should be. If you feel isolated, seek support and some reality checks from family and other people who you trust and who appreciate you. This can include friends, cousins etc. your own age from outside school, as well as adults. Kidshelpline counsellors can also help you talk things through (1800 55 1800). Whatever happens, don't let this discourage you from doing what you think is right in future. In fact, to not act according to what you think is right can make you feel pathetic and generate even worse consequences for you and others.