One of the hardest things to go through is being the friend or family member of someone with a drinking problem. You can go through a roller coaster of emotions - denial, embarrassment, concern, and more. You may have noticed how someone’s use of alcohol has affected family relationships and the feeling of trust you once had.

If you recognise that someone close to you may be experiencing a problem with alcohol, it can help to be able to talk to someone about this in confidence. Someone with professional knowledge of alcohol problems, but without a personal involvement in the drinking problem. This could be someone like your Doctor.

Helping someone recognise that they have a drink problem

Something to bear in mind is that people nearly always need to make decisions for themselves. This is true of many areas of life. A person will most likely take positive action if they feel that it is their decision, rather than an 'order' from someone else

Lecturing, demanding, bullying or begging usually doesn’t help. Try not to put blame or fault onto the drinker. Often the person with the drinking problem doesn’t realise they have a problem or is in denial and defensive.

Don’t let the drinker convince you that there is no problem, or lead you to believe it is your problem. If drink is causing problems, it is always the responsibility of the person who is doing the drinking.

The most effective thing that you can do is to help the drinker come to the realisation that they need to help themselves.

This is not an easy task, however our Looking after others booklet may help.

Look after yourself

Stop taking responsibility for the drinker. Many people enable the drinker to continue drinking without realising it, by making excuses for the person or being overly forgiving. If you continue to make it easy for the person to drink, this will hold you back from feeling positive about yourself.

Don't allow yourself to be abused by the drinker either physically or mentally. If you feel at risk from physical violence, then you will have to take the appropriate action by calling the police, or leaving the premises and the immediate risk of danger. Equally, if the drinker is in immediate danger to their life, you should call the doctor or an ambulance.

See our Looking after others booklet for more help. It's just one in a range of free Alcohol Support and Information leaflets and booklets that can be downloaded here.