how sna could
help your loved one

It’s pretty common to mirror your behaviour to that of those around you. That’s how we learn as toddlers. It’s how we form a style when we are teenagers and it’s how we shape our personalities throughout our life. But, when it comes to substance use, our perception about others is often skewed.
Our research shows how a lot of respondents had a tendency to normalise unhealthy behaviour, because one assumes others engage in this behaviour (more) frequently. We overestimate the amount of risky behaviour in others, while underestimating the frequency of their healthy behaviour.
With this campaign, we focus on showing you the story behind substance use. We want to show people not what they believe to be true about others, but the actual figures on substance use.
This realisation may act as a wake-up call or a friendly reminder. For you and your loved ones.


We have created an informative animation that walks you through the principles of the SNA. In this video we tell you about the theory, but we also back it up with actual figures from our research report. You may watch the video together with a loved one, or you may watch it before you engage in the conversation you have planned.
This video summarises our findings. The complete research reports can be found on the bottom of this page.


The Social Norms Approach is a renowned and proven methodology in changing human behaviour. If applied correctly, the facts and figures communicated with your loved one might change their stance on their (mis)perceived social norms. You can download the SNA-guide below.
By talking about the facts together, you may spark a bit of motivation to change not only their stance, but also their behaviour. You can also do our online quiz or use the print-version included in the SNA-guide. We are not saying that reading the facts or doing the quiz can make someone stop using immediately, but it might spark a change.
We have gathered some tips on how to engage in conversations with loved ones whose use worries you.



It might be tough to start a talk with your loved one about their alcohol-, or medicine (ab)use. How do you handle this without the conversation escalating? We have gathered some tips for you! 

When you discuss these numbers with a friend or family member you fear is losing control of their use, try not to be judgemental. Communicate your worries in a non-accusatory tone. You can start the conversation by saying something like: “I worry about you, could it be that…”.
Sometimes, merely expressing these worries will have a preventive effect!

However, more often, topics like these might not be resolved in a single conversation. Please be aware that your worries might not be shared by your friends or family members. They might feel the problem is non-existent or less serious than you feel. Don’t let this difference in perception stop the conversation from continuing. Rather make it a topic of the conversation. Name this difference and ask them how the difference might be explained. Try to make your loved one realise the problem might be bigger than they think. You know you have created a motivation for change when they realise “Maybe I should tone it down a little..”
Every person is motivated differently. Some are motivated by the health benefits of not using. Others by the money they can save. We recommend listing very clear and direct short-term effects of their use. So, be concrete and keep it measurable!
You could, for example, talk about the money they spend on their use. You can make them realise they might have missed (social) occasions because they were too hungover or you can ask them to reflect on their job performances. These personal effects can act as very tangible incentives that they themselves can see improve or worsen over time.
Don’t start accusing someone of being addicted or don’t forbid certain behaviour. You don’t want to end up in a back and forth of attacks and defences. This can only turn into a fight that might hurt more than the conversation alone. Stick with what you do see and know.

Maybe they look tired, have difficulty getting out of bed, lost a lot of weight, lost their appetite or suffer from diseases that signal excessive use. Ask them if they think your observations are correct and ask them why they think it all happened. All the while, you should keep making clear that you are not there to punish them, but to help them out.
Your loved one might also point their finger at you. They probably know a little bit about your use and will try to compare your use to theirs. (Remember? Social Norms?) Try being honest about your use! It can help if you share your experiences. Also share how you ensure that you keep your use responsible.
Not sharing about yourself can have an opposite effect. If you wish to steer away from getting too personal, you might use our facts and figures to show the different groups of users. You might add by saying to what group you think you belong. You might follow this up by asking to which group of users your loved one thinks they belong.
Use the facts if you are using our flyers or posters as a way to communicate with your loved one. In our campaign, we try to steer away from being judgemental or prejudiced. We support the decision to drink less, but never judge someone for not making this decision (yet).
Try communicating in a similar matter. Support the choices someone makes, but make sure to clarify that certain assumptions the user makes might be skewed. You can back this up with our research. Ask them questions like: “What percentage of the people your age do YOU think drink just as often as you do?”.

Get some expert-guidance

However well the conversation goes, a sensitive issue like this might not be resolved after a good talk or discussion. In some cases, it can be beneficial to get the opinion of a trained addiction prevention professional. Below you’ll find relevant and affiliated healthcare organisations in your region. Do not hesitate to call on them for some expert guidance or action plans.



Facts and figures form the basis of this campaign. They speak to the imagination and are helpful tools in strengthening a message and making it stick. One glance at a poster with a quote about drinking can surely make an impact, but when we communicate the corresponding figures, it’s the numbers that keep ringing in your head.
We aim to be a wake-up call and a friendly reminder for all that might base their decisions on (mis)perceived social norms.
Want to use the SNA to create awareness with your peers?
Our posters and flyers will help you do just that. Use them as a conversation piece, to get the conversation going or use the numbers to have your family member or friend reflect upon. You may download the materials through the button below. Here you will find our flyers and posters, but also a text-based, print version of our quiz to do together with your loved one.
Or order the high-quality prints free of charge by filling in the form.


(Promotional package)




This campaign revolves around statistics taken from our Euroregional Health Survey.

This online survey was conducted from September 2019 to January 2020 and was presented to citizens, aged 55+ years old, living in The Netherlands (Zuid Limburg), Belgium (Provincie Limburg, Ostbelgien and Liège) and Germany (Aachen, Euskirchen, Heinsburg and Bitburg-Prüm). To ensure safety in answering questions regarding substance use, respondents remained anonymous throughout the survey.

We asked these respondents to give us an indication of their substance use and also asked how they felt other people their age would score on these same questions. Interestingly, the SNA appeared to be applicable in nearly all proposed situations. We clearly saw how respondents had a tendency to downplay healthy behavior among their peers while overestimating their unhealthy behavior. Curious to all facts and figures? You may download the report below.



Choose your region..