While not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic, it’s still true in Australia according to government statistics that about 20 percent of people above the age of 18 consume more than 10 standard drinks per week. For some of these people, they are perhaps on a path to a more destructive form of drinking that we call alcoholism.
For many of us, to see family and friends descend into a vicious cycle of drinking and other problems is heartbreaking. We all want to reach out and try our best to help them, but how? It can be a very difficult and sensitive matter, and our efforts to help could make things worse. What, then, are some ways we can help our friends and family members who are struggling with alcohol abuse.
1. Direct Them to Professional Help
You can’t always control what your friends or family members do, and they may resist your attempts to get them to change their ways. However, helping them look for alcohol help in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne or wherever they are based, can work differently. Passing on contact information can allow your loved one to find their way there in their own time, and on their own terms, which may help improve their chances of getting the help they need.
2. Reflect On What You’ll Say to Them
It’s never a good idea to go steaming into a situation with a friend and start talking about their apparent drinking issues without thinking it through first. The issues surrounding whatever challenges they are facing are likely complex, as well as deeply sensitive and personal. You should think about ways to approach the subject carefully. Write down ideas and practice saying them out loud.
There’s never a guarantee that what you’ll say will get through to them, or that they won’t react badly to it at first, but if you’ve carefully thought about it and prepared first, then you at least won’t regret the way you did it. You can be confident that you did things in a considered and thoughtful way.
3. Choose Carefully When and Where to Intervene
Besides choosing carefully what we say and how we say those things to our friends, we also have to choose the time and place with some care. For instance, announcing it at their birthday party in front of their family and your other friends probably isn’t ideal. In most cases, a time of calm is best, when you also have some privacy.
One more suggestion is to pick a place that your friend or you could easily walk away from with minimum fuss if the situation deteriorates. Allowing either of you a face-saving exit can be like an emergency shut-down that prevents the pressure from exploding into something worse.
4. Offer to Listen and Support
Many people who try to intervene on their friends’ behalf for things like drinking and drugs make the classic mistake of trying to impose some kind of moral authority over the situation. If you’re going to step in, it has to be as someone offering a kind and loving hand of support and care. Bring up your concerns, but then get ready to listen carefully to your friend’s perspective. Only by doing this can you better increase your chances of getting them to be receptive and positive about making changes.
5. Promise Confidentiality and Discretion
Finally, if you’re going to intervene and try to help your friend with their problem, don’t forget to promise your own discretion in the matter. You have a better chance of a friend opening up and being more honest if they can at least be confident in your discretion.