How To Help a Friend

Answering the following four questions can help you find out if you, a loved one, or a friend has a drinking problem:

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

One “yes” answer suggests a possible alcohol problem.
More than one “yes” answer means it is highly likely that a problem exists.

If you think that you or someone you know might have an alcohol problem, it is important to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. They can help you determine if a drinking problem exists and plan the best course of action.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

How do I talk to a friend or loved one about their drinking problem?

Let your friend or family member know that risky drinking can lead to more severe alcohol problems including alcohol dependence (alcoholism), as well as injuries and unwanted/unprotected sex.

  • Use the resources. Do what you can to encourage your friend or family member to get help, but remember the only person you can change is yourself. Don’t hesitate to use resources to help yourself as well.
  • Don’t make excuses for the drinker. Family members often try to protect a loved one from the consequences of their drinking by making excuses to others. Making excuses allows your loved one to avoid changing for the better.
  • Choose a good time to talk with the drinker, such as shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred. Choose a time when he or she is sober, when both of you are calm and when you can speak privately.
  • Be specific. Tell the friend or family member that you are concerned about their drinking and want to be supportive in getting help. Back up your concern with examples of the ways in which their drinking has caused problems for both of you, including the most recent incident.
  • Seek out the people and resources that can support you. Keep in mind you are not alone. There is hope and practical help available in your local community. 

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