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How to Talk to Your Friend About Their Drinking Problem

If your friend was sick, wouldn’t you readily offer your support or help? The same should be true for a friend who is showing signs of alcohol addiction. Addiction is a disease and medically diagnosable condition, and if left untreated it can have devastating consequences.

How to Tell If Someone Has a Drinking Problem

When is drinking a problem? Alcohol addiction can lead to behavioral, mental and physical health issues, and it is typically the behavioral changes that are most apparent to friends. A person who is struggling with a drinking problem may suddenly lose interest in their hobbies, jeopardize their job and even hurt their loved ones. If you believe your friend may have a drinking problem, now is the time to help.

When to Approach a Friend About Their Drinking

One of the challenges of talking to a friend with a drinking problem is knowing when it is the right time. Though an addict’s behaviors can be unpredictable, you may know your friend’s routine well enough to figure out a time that they will be sober or close to it. The ideal time to approach a friend about their drinking is when they’re sober, as they can think clearly and better understand the seriousness of the situation.

How to Tell Someone They Have a Drinking Problem

Do your research before you speak to your friend about their drinking problem. Addiction is a disease, and you may want to acknowledge this during your conversation with your friend so they know you aren’t judging them. Follow these tips for talking to your friend about their drinking problem:

  • Be prepared.
  • Express your concern.
  • Be supportive.
  • Stay positive.
  • Be specific.
  • Be respectful.
  • Encourage treatment.

How to Fight Feelings of Apprehension

Talking to a friend about their drinking problem can feel intimidating. You may be worried that bringing up the drinking problem could damage or end your friendship, but the reality is that helping your friend who is struggling with addiction is more likely to strengthen your bond. In fact, your friend may be secretly hoping that someone will initiate the conversation and care enough to ask about what they are going through.

Communicating the Impact of a Drinking Problem

When you talk to your friend about their drinking problem, you should communicate the impact that their drinking has had. Express to your friend the impact that the problem has had on you and their loved ones, such as their family or children. Be clear about which of your friend’s actions you perceive as unacceptable.

How to Be an Active Listener

When your friend speaks during this conversation, be sure to actively listen to their response. Be polite and avoid interrupting them while they are talking. If you respect what your friend has to say, they may be more likely to acknowledge their addiction. Even if this conversation is not successful, you may be able to get your friend to open up later if you actively listen to them.

How to Help a Friend With a Drinking Problem

Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your friend is to help them seek addiction treatment. At Gateway Foundation, we offer several treatment services to meet a variety of patient needs. To learn more about alcohol addiction treatment, contact us today.

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