I'm Concerned About Someone Else's Drinking
Whether it’s a friend, a partner, your child or a colleague, signs that someone close to you is drinking heavily can be difficult to identify, and even harder to address. While you might see their drinking as a problem, the drinker may not see it that way.
The Big Alcohol Conversation is working to reduce alcohol harm in Greater Manchester. Here we’re providing some of the top advice and ways of coping from the experts we’re working with.
Spot the signs
This piece has been written to help those living with someone who has a concerning drink habit. It works in offering practical advice and ways of working the issue. If you or someone close to you is in need of help or advice, then your local GP is always a good place to start. Whilst people close to a problem drinker can often spot issues, the drinker themself is often blinded to the fact.
- Here are some of the biggest signs that someone is drinking too much -
- Someone’s drinking starts to affect their relationships, as well as their work life.
- Alcohol becomes a person’s main focus, with their life planned around it.
- This person begins to lie about their drinking, even hiding alcohol.
- They experience a strong desire to drink and find it hard to stop doing so.
- Experiencing sweating, nausea, shaking or vomiting when not drinking.
Advice – What you can do
Remember – you cannot force a person to stop drinking. However, you can attempt to encourage them to cut down or help them towards making changes. The following suggestions could help.
Talk to them
Talk to them when you are both sober and of sound mind.
Listen to them
Whilst talking is good, it’s also important to listen as well. Discover what their thoughts are on their own drinking and why they do it.
Don’t get into intense disagreements or arguments with the person if you can help it. Whilst the situation is a difficult one, arguing can make it even worse and harder to have real discussions going forwards.
Look for help
Seek out professional help for all involved – the person drinking, you and your wider family. Everyone involved could benefit from the help. Just remember that a drinker may not be immediately ready to accept such help, so you may need to bear with them.
Don’t be ambiguous – make sure they understand which behaviour you will and will not tolerate. Be sure to not make empty threats.
Be sure to help the person in question remain realistic. Advise them against making promises that are extremely hard to see through.
Don’t make it easy
Don’t buy alcohol for them, or agree to go to drinking places to them. Whilst breaking these usual habits can be hard, you need to follow through on your words with actions that will help them see you are being serious.
Don’t cover for them
Don’t try to hide their drinking from others. Consequences are natural and potentially beneficial to their long-term recovery.
Don’t accept labels such as ‘alcoholic’ – try to focus on the effect the drinking is having on the person’s life.
The drinker in question and their family often blame outside influences on the alcohol problem, including a job loss, stressful work, or being surrounded by easy access to alcohol. This gives the incorrect impression that the negation of those perceived issues can fix the problem – but it won’t.
WARNING: Symptoms such as sweating, nausea, shaking and sweating before the first drink of the day often means that someone is dependent on alcohol. If someone becomes dependent, it is VERY IMPORTANT that they do not stop drinking before seeking out professional medical advice. Stopping beforehand could prove fatal.
Help is available across Greater Manchester through many high-quality services and community-led alternatives to formal treatment. Whilst taking the first step to getting help might be difficult, this expert support can help at every step of the way.
Head to the “In your area” section of thebigalcoholconversation.org to find services and support near you.