Help with alcoholism for friends or family

What can you do as a loved one of an alcoholic?

Does someone in your environment struggle with alcohol addiction? Watching a loved one struggle with alcohol addiction can be very difficult. As a loved one of an alcoholic, there are several ways you can help.

Effect of alcohol addiction on family and friends

Alcohol addiction has consequences not only for the alcoholic themselves but also for friends and family members. Seeing a partner, child, or friend slide into alcohol addiction can be heart-wrenching and frustrating. Alcoholism often causes tension in relationships because your loved one fails to keep appointments and gives up obligations. Financial or legal problems may also arise. If your partner or child is an alcoholic, you may even experience aggression or physical violence.

All of these consequences can feel so overwhelming that you don't know what to do with the situation. It is often difficult to discuss the addiction with your loved one. They may deny the problem or you may blame yourself for the addiction, which can evoke shame, fear, and anger. However, it is important to make it discussable and to seek help for both yourself and your loved one.

Treatment of alcoholism

Recognizing alcoholism in a loved one

It can be very difficult to recognize alcohol addiction in someone else. The amount of alcohol someone drinks does not necessarily indicate an addiction. What is more important is the reason for alcohol abuse and the consequences thereof. Is your loved one drinking to avoid problems or to ignore negative feelings? Then there may be an alcohol problem. Other signs that may indicate possible alcohol addiction include:

  • Drinking alcohol in response to panic, stress, mood swings, or depression;
  • Regularly giving up obligations at work, home, or school for alcohol or to recover from alcohol;
  • Continuing to drink despite causing tensions in family and social relationships;
  • Drinking a lot in a short period of time and consuming more alcohol than planned;
  • Drinking alcohol secretly.
When are you addicted to alcohol?

Advice for loved ones of someone with alcohol addiction

As a friend or family member of an alcohol addict, you can offer a lot of support in the recovery process. It is important to seek help for your loved one, but also for yourself.

How do you approach the conversation about alcohol addiction?

Talking about alcohol addiction with your child, friend, or partner can be nerve-wracking. Some tips that can help make the problems discussable are:

  • Try to start the conversation at a time when he or she is not drinking.
  • Announce that you want to have a conversation about the addiction. Don't surprise someone with it. Ask when someone has time so that he or she can prepare for it.
  • Share your concerns in a compassionate, empathetic, and calm manner.
  • Also mention what you are struggling with - not directed at the person but at the behavior or effects of it. So focus on the problem, not the person.
  • Make the reasons for alcohol abuse discussable: why does someone use alcohol? Is there, for example, stress or depressive feelings?
  • Do not take negative reactions personally and do not be discouraged if he/she denies the problem. It may take several conversations before a request for help is made.
  • Do not approach the conversation accusingly, but try to empathize. Friends and family members often have a tendency to accuse, which can quickly lead to an argument. It is better to help and empathize in the conversation.

How to encourage your loved one to seek help for alcohol addiction

In most cases, an individual struggling with alcohol addiction requires professional treatment to stop drinking. You can assist a friend or family member in seeking help for addiction by contacting a helpline, therapist, or a mental health institution together. Additionally, you can accompany them to a doctor's appointment, psychologist, or group meeting.

Use an "I" message to express how their behaviour is affecting you. For example, "I feel uncomfortable when you drink because your behaviour changes." State the behaviour and communicate how it affects you. This may provide the person struggling with addiction with a reason to seek treatment.

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prevent relapse

How to help your loved one prevent relapse

At U-center, we devote considerable attention to preventing relapse during treatment. It is important to prevent your loved one from reverting to old patterns once they return home. Therefore, during the U-center program, we work together with the client, family, and friends to develop a Future Development Plan (FDP). This plan documents what you can do when you feel the urge to drink alcohol. The plan is not only intended for the client but also for their family.

Take control of alcohol addiction

U-center provides intensive and comprehensive clinical treatment for alcohol addiction. During treatment, a team of professionals will help to address the addiction and underlying factors.

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This page has been professionally reviewed on medical accuracy

At U-center, we understand the importance of providing reliable and accurate information to our visitors. That's why we have experts in the field review our website to ensure that all information presented is medically accurate.

Page Reviewed by:

Hans Zander

Hans Zander

Addiction Specialist Doctor

Hans Zander is a dedicated addiction specialist at U-center who has reviewed this page to ensure that all information is accurate and reliable.


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