How to Help a Friend

What to Do if Someone Close has a Problem

  • Try to remain calm, unemotional, and factually honest in speaking about their behavior and its day-to-day consequences.
  • Let the person with the problem know that you are reading and learning about alcohol abuse, attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen, and other support groups.
  • Discuss the situation with someone you trust -- someone from the clergy, a social worker, a counselor, a friend, or some individual who has experienced alcohol abuse personally or as a family member.
  • Establish and maintain a healthy atmosphere in the home, and try to include the alcohol abuser in family life.
  • Explain the nature of alcoholism as an illness to the children in the family.
  • Encourage new interests and participate in leisure time activities that the person enjoys. Encourage them to see old friends. Be patient and live one day at a time. Alcohol addiction generally takes a long time to develop, and recovery does not occur overnight. Try to accept setbacks and relapses with calmness and understanding.

Refuse to ride with anyone who's been drinking heavily.

What Not To Do

  • Don't attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach.
  • Don't try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink.
  • Don't allow yourself to cover up or make excuses for the alcoholic or shield them from the realistic consequences of their behavior.
  • Don't take over their responsibilities, leaving them with no sense of importance or dignity.
  • Don't hide or dump bottles or shelter them from situations where alcohol is present.
  • Don't argue with the person when they are impaired.
  • Don't try to drink along with the problem drinker.

Above all, don't feel guilty or responsible for another's behavior.

Page last modified November 9, 2015