What to Do

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.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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