Then you run into an old friend from college, the one you used to play 'Never Have I Ever' with shots of tequila.
Except five years later and now that you're an adult, you drink more responsibly than before. Your friend, on the other hand, clearly hasn't changed. In fact, the more time you spend with them, the more you think they might have aalcohol problem. She begins to wonder how she can help her alcoholic friend.
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Does any of this sound familiar to you? You're having a great time, so you decide to make your meetings regular. Sounds like fun, until you realize that every Friday night, your college friend seems to be drinking more and more. After a while, things get boring.
Your friend begs you to split another bottle when you reach your limit and want to go home. Or your friend starts repeating the same "hot new gossip" because he passed out from drinking the last time he told you about it.
The truth is that addiction is very common. Alcohol is readily available, socially acceptable, and fun. So how do you tell someone close, or maybe not close, that you think they need help?
What is alcoholism?
Also known as alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction, alcoholism is a serious psychological illness defined by the inability to stop drinking alcohol despite potential or actual negative consequences.
There are many reasons why people drink. Some may drink it to make their lives more exciting, while others will use it to self-medicate. Alcoholism can present as mild or severe. Some drinkers are classified as "functional alcoholics', which means they may not display the same symptoms as a normal alcoholic and may not appear to have a problem.
You can help your alcoholic friend by learning about the symptoms of addiction before approaching him. Common symptoms of alcohol abuse include:
- Drinks beyond recommended guidelines
- Excessive consumption of regular alcohol / Do not drink in moderation
- Drinking Alone/Memory Break/Regular Hangovers
- They lie or hide their drinking
- Neglecting daily tasks such as personal care or work/school
- He continued to drink despite the obvious consequences.
- Show withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
- Craving and/or finding excuses to drink
If you think your friend has a drinking problem, you might consider seeking help. Before doing so, he must create a disclosure plan and be prepared for the possible response.
Things to remember when approaching an alcoholic friend
Approaching an alcoholic is not an easy task. Alcohol is both physically and psychologically addictive and is one of the hardest addictions to break.There are a few things to keep in mind before considering any intervention.
First of all, it is better to check your physical condition for work. Consider the support you can offer, in terms of time and emotional strength. Can you recommend total abstinence or just control of intake?
Approach them at the right time.
If you want to make a serious point, know that the first time you raise your concerns is likely to have the biggest impact. Therefore, it is recommended that you get some advice where possible instead of doing it yourself.
If you feel that you cannot fully commit to an intervention, it may be best to put your concern to your friend in a few words. This can have the desired effect. If not, a full and better planned intervention may be the next step.
Prepare for a backlash.
Whatever your approach, you must be prepared for the lies,rejectionand excuses about his drinking. This is not just out of shame. Some people may not really know how unhealthy alcohol consumption is. For others, it's the only way they can subconsciously justify their own unacceptable behavior.
You must also be prepared for anger. Nobody likes to be confronted with his flaws. Make sure you don't take any "discards" personally.
If your intervention, or even repeated intervention, isn't working, you need to know when to back off. Caring for an alcoholic is not an easy task and a decision needs to be made beforehand about how far you are willing to go to help them.
Ultimately, you can try to reach out and help your friend, but it's up to them to accept the help. It's usually not a good idea to force someone into treatment because the person has to want to stop on their own to get better.
How to help an alcoholic friend
educating yourselfabout addiction, alcoholism, treatment and withdrawal not only help prepare you for a successful intervention. It can also help you put yourself in your friends' shoes and understand what they're going through.
Also, if you come prepared and informed, your friend will see that you put in the time and effort and will be more willing to listen to you. Again, your attitude towards your friend should be that he is not a "bad person", but a good person with a serious illness.
Be supportive and compassionate
There can be many reasons why a person developed a drinking problem, and you have to admit that you don't know the whole story. Someone dealing with an addiction needs compassion and support. With the right encouragement, they will be more inclined to seek help. Be sure to listen to them instead of lecturing them. Nagging won't make them listen to your advice.
There are many support groups that can help guide you through this situation. Dealing with an alcoholic can also affect your well-being, so supporting yourself during this process can be helpful.
A local addictions clinic or groups likeAl‑Anoncan provide helpful resources for friends and loved ones.
Plan your intervention
It is a good idea to read about how to organize a successful intervention. This includes choosing an appropriate time when the alcoholic in question is sober. If they're not sober, there may be no point in trying. And remember: if you want to help your alcoholic friend, there may be others who will. Reach out to other friends and family to help you with your intervention, especially if an individual intervention feels uncomfortable.
Well-intentioned interventions can have a negative effect if not properly studied. Ask yourself if you are the best person to do it and if you should do it yourself. Or would your friend be more likely to listen to someone else, such as a family doctor?
Appeal to his emotional and logical side.
Someone with an addiction may be stressed and overwhelmed and may not realize how much harm they are causing to themselves or others with their drinking. When you talk to them, try to appeal to their logical side by explaining the possible consequences of their actions. You can also explain how your drinking affects you or your loved ones.
For example, you can mention that if you keep missing work because of constant hangovers, you could lose your job. Or that it hurts you to see their self-destructive behavior. They may not listen to you the first time, but it will at least plant a seed in their mind that they are doing something wrong.
Prepare possible treatment options.
It's not always obvious, especially for someone dealing with alcoholism, where to turn for help. Many people think that home rehabilitation is the only option. Even if they have considered getting treatment, they may feel overwhelmed with the various options out there.
Showing them the different treatment options and the pros and cons of each can help them think. For example, inpatient versus outpatient, peer support groups or private treatment, exclusive detoxification programs, or residential rehabilitation centers.
It may be helpful to find local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and offer to go with them or at least drive with them (if they want privacy). You can also call a few nearby rehab centers and ask them about the admission process and cost.
Prepare for rejection
It often happens that an alcoholic does not want to seek professional help immediately. Some people think they can try to cut it themselves. This can be good in some cases, unless the person has been drinking heavily for a long time, in which case a medically supervised detox may be necessary.
Some people may also be in denial at first. However, even if they refuse treatment, talking to them has brought the matter to their attention.
What if your alcoholic friend doesn't want help?
Remember, your friend has to make his own decision to receive treatment. However, it doesn't hurt to stage an intervention if he feels his situation is getting out of hand.
If you want to try to quit smoking on your own, consider whether you can be a supportive friend. This may mean helping them stop drinking or trying to abstain. It also helps encourage them to engage in non-alcoholic activities, such as sports. However, do not offer support that you cannot support, as this can make the situation worse.
If you agree to help them cut themselves, remember not toto allowhis. Don't cover up their mistakes and let them deal with the problems they will face due to excessive drinking. For some people, it is necessary to hit rock bottom before agreeing to seek treatment.
Plus, you can motivate them to go to meetings, even if they haven't quit drinking yet. Going to a meeting, seeing a counselor, or calling a rehab center does not create any obligation for them.
In itcastillo craigand Smarmore Castle we are always ready to listen and give advice. Do not hesitate to contact us at our helpline numbers +44 8082 788161 and +353 41 986 5080.