Helping a friend or family member struggling with alcohol or drugs can be heartbreaking. But, with help, it can also be rewarding.
Here are some quick questions you might want to ask yourself about another person's use of alcohol or drugs:
- Do you worry about how much your friend or loved one uses alcohol or drugs?
- Do you lie or make excuses about their behavior when they drink or use drugs?
- Do they get angry with you if you try to discuss their drinking or drug use?
- Have you ever been hurt or embarrassed by their behavior when they’re drunk, stoned, or strung-out?
- Do you have concerns about how much time and money they spend on alcohol and drugs?
- Do your resent having to pick up their responsibilities because they are drunk, high or hungover?
- Do you ever get scared or nervous about their behavior when they’re drinking or using drugs?
- Do you ever feel like you’re losing it--“going crazy”--just really stressed out?
- Have you ever considered calling the police because of their alcohol or drug use or their behavior while under the influence?
Alcoholism and drug dependence are complex problems, with many related issues. And, although there is no magic formula to help someone stop his or her drinking or drug use, you are not alone. Many others have been where you are and have found a way to happy and purposeful lives free of alcohol and addiction.
Here are some important suggestions:
- Learn All You Can About Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: Utilize the resources available through this website, including Find an Affiliate, Learn About Alcohol, Learn About Drugs and For Friends and Family.
- Speak Up and Offer Your Support: Talk to the person about your concerns and offer your help and support, including your willingness to go with them and get help.
- Express Love, Concern and Support: Don’t wait for them to “hit bottom.” You may be met with excuses, denial or anger, but be prepared to respond with specific examples of behavior that has you worried.
- Don’t Expect the Person to Stop Without Help. You have heard it before -- promises to cut down, to stop -- but it doesn’t work. Treatment, support, and new coping skills are needed to overcome addiction to alcohol and drugs.
- Support Recovery as an Ongoing Process: Once your friend or family member is receiving treatment or going to recovery support meetings, remain involved. While maintaining your own commitment to getting help, continue to show that you are concerned about and supportive of their long-term recovery.
Some Things You Don’t Want To Do:
- Don't Preach: Don’t lecture, threaten, bribe, preach or moralize.
- Don't Be A Martyr: Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use other drugs.
- Don't Cover Up, lie or make excuses for them and their behavior.
- Don't Assume Their Responsibilities: Taking over their responsibilities protects them from the consequences of their behavior.
- Don't Argue When Using: When they are using alcohol or drugs, they can’t have a rational conversation.
- Don’t Feel Guilty or responsible for their behavior, it’s not your fault.
- Don't Join Them: Don’t try to keep up with them by drinking or using.