If you’ve noticed that a friend has started drinking a little too much, it can be hard to know to help them. Alcohol addiction is a growing problem that is affecting more and more people each year. The issue for friends of addicts is that knowing how to approach them can be tricky, as you don’t want to give them a reason to push you away. Because of this, many people choose to turn a blind eye when someone they care about is drinking a little much.
Don’t make this mistake. If you care about your friend, don’t turn a blind eye. It might be daunting bringing up the fact that you think they have an alcohol problem, but unless you want things to get worse, you need to.
Get your approach right
If you want to help your friend, you need to be careful about how you approach the subject. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a harsh approach is the right way to go, as this may cause them to become defensive.
Instead, broach the subject in a gentle and caring way that is non-confrontational. (If you’re confrontational, the chances are that they will do everything possible to hide their addiction.) Instead of saying, “I think you’re addicted to alcohol”, say “I think you may have a problem with alcohol”.
Explain that you want to help
Make it clear that you’re talking to them because you care and are worried. Explain that they mean a lot to you and that you’re going to be there for them, and are willing to do all that you can to help.
Tell them why you are worried
Your friend may try to brush off your concern, but make it clear that there is a problem. Don’t just tell them that you’re worried because they seem to be drinking a lot, give specific examples.
For instance, instead of saying, “You’ve been drinking too much on nights out”. Say “The other night you couldn’t stand straight and were shouting at total strangers, it was frightening.” You’ll find that being specific will have a greater impact on them.
Be clear that it’s not their fault
Don’t make the mistake of blaming them for their addiction, explain that it’s an illness. Being addicted to alcohol isn’t to do with being weak, it’s a disease, and it’s important that they know that. Make it clear to them that just like any illness, for them to recover, they need professional help.
Talk to them about getting help and what they need to do – it’s best to research this first so that you know what you’re talking about. For serious addiction, a stint in a rehabilitation facility may be necessary. However, it’s important to reassure them that most addicts can be treated as outpatients. There are plenty of addiction recovery services that offer successful outpatient care, so make sure to look into these.
If all else fails, get a group together
If talking to your friend by yourself doesn’t do any good, it might be worth getting a group together. When it comes to these kinds of issues, often a larger group can make a bigger impact.
Get a few of their close friends together and try making them understand that they have a problem. It can be tricky to get through to an addict, but with perseverance and kindness, it is possible.
Helping a friend with an alcohol addiction is never going to be easy. However, if you take note of the tips above, you can make it easier to broach the subject and get them to accept help.