What To Do When Your Friend Tells You That They Are An Alcoholic

Dec 15, 2022 | Addiction, Alcohol, Helping a Loved One

Supporting Loved Ones With Substance Use Issues

The hardest part of overcoming alcohol addiction is admitting both to yourself and to loved ones that you have a drinking problem. So, when someone reaches out to you about their drinking problem, they are asking for help and support.

While we don’t fully understand why some people become alcoholics while others are able to drink in moderation, we do know that somewhere around 8% of the population will struggle with alcohol addiction at some point in their life.  When someone is an alcoholic, they often act like everything is OK, but internally they feel ashamed, embarrassed, and out of control.  So, when your friend admits that they are an alcoholic it is a big deal.

Acknowledge their First Win

A key barrier in recovery is taking personal responsibility. For most addicts, living a lie is the lesser evil. There is also the bonus of the occasional high. Furthermore, accepting the existence of substance disorders equates to weakness and shame.

Your friend has mustered enough courage, despite themselves, to recognize and reveal their alcohol dependence. Such a truth is, particularly, harder to divulge to a loved one. Recognize this strength. Let them know you are proud of what they have achieved. Dispel their fears and worries and give them hope for a better future.

Acknowledge the Addiction

Many people’s first reaction is to try to deny that their friend is an alcoholic. Don’t minimize their problems with alcohol. Acknowledge that alcohol is a problem for them and let them talk about their struggles.

Be Part of Their Support System

Your friend has trusted you with their problem. They probably see some strengths in you that they could use. Be there for your friend. Their confession is not a source of gossip or gloating. It is their way out of the problem. Become your friend’s accountability partner. They need your help in their journey to recovery.

Check up on your friend. Lend a helping hand in their quest to develop positive habits. Be their travel or exercise buddy. Get them to participate in volunteer work and encourage them to become a part of a recovery community, such as AA.  Let them see their value in your embrace. Words are never enough; that is why actions speak louder than words.

Support the Changes that Recovery may Require

While you are helping your friend, there may be others within your friend’s circle that are encouraging their alcohol dependence and undermining their recovery. Help your friend remove every enabling factor that makes recovery difficult.  Your friend may need to cut links with friends or relatives who encourage their alcohol use.

Encourage Your Friend to Become a Part of a Recovery Community

Recovery from an addiction is an ongoing journey. Fortunately, there are recovery communities such as Alcoholics Anonymous which can provide ongoing support and guidance around recovery. These recovery communities can help them develop new habits and tools to help them stop drinking. They can also provide the support network that your friend may need to prevent them from relapsing in the future.

Encourage Your Friend to Get Treatment When Needed

Treatment for alcohol abuse may become necessary. If your friend is having difficulty breaking the cycle of addiction, encourage them to get help. A therapist or treatment program that specializes in the treatment of addictions can help your friend break the cycle of addiction and develop the tools they need to develop lasting sobriety.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.