How Can You Help Someone With a Drinking Problem?

someone with a drinking problem

In this country, there are millions of individuals struggling with a drinking problem, and many more family members and other loved ones trying to help them. If you are in this situation, you are definitely not alone.

It’s very often difficult to help a person who is drinking too much or who has become an alcoholic. It seems like the use of alcohol itself blinds a person to the problems it is creating. One of the biggest barriers to helping a person who is experiencing alcohol-related problems is their denial of the problems. Rather than seeing it as a problem, a person who is drinking alcohol is using it as a solution to some kind of problem. In their eyes, using alcohol is the correct action for their given situation. If they are drinking heavily, alcohol may just solve the immediate problem they are faced with—withdrawal symptoms. So when you confront someone with their “alcohol problem,” realize that he or she may not see it the same way you do.

If you’re going to help a person who’s struggling with too much drinking, your first step is to increase your understanding of the problem.

A Scale of Drinking

There are different levels of alcohol consumption.

Social drinking: Light drinking in a social setting without the intent to get drunk.

Binge drinking: This means drinking 5 drinks in a short period of time (about two hours) if you’re male or drinking 4 drinks if you’re female. This level of drinking puts the average person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit for driving.

Moderate drinking: Up to one drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

Heavy drinking: There are different definitions for heavy drinking, depending on whose data you use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines heavy drinking as 15 or more drinks per week for a man and 8 or more for a woman.

Alcoholism: Alcoholism occurs when a person strongly craves alcohol, is unable to control or limit his drinking and continues to drink despite serious problems being created in life by the drinking.

In general, most people who are having trouble with alcohol will have started with low levels and gradually progressed to higher levels and more problems. When teens drink, unfortunately, they often binge drink. They may skip the first level of drinking and go directly to the second, meaning that they are far more influenced by alcohol than they have the maturity to handle.

Determine where your loved one is on this scale and you will understand better how urgently he or she needs help.

How You Can Help

The further he has progressed on this scale, the greater the help needs to be. If your friend or loved one is binge drinking and running into problems, it may just take some straight talk, honesty, and encouragement to steer them into more positive life habits. But remember this: If a single conversation doesn’t make an improvement, don’t give up. Bring in other people who also see the problem. If your friend or loved one is faced with two or three people she cares about who want to help her, it’s much harder to dodge that reality.

If your loved one is an alcoholic according to the definition above, they need your help at the first possible moment. They are at risk of losing their life due to an alcohol overdose, accident or assault, or they could kill someone else by driving while intoxicated. Alcoholism is very difficult to overcome on one’s own and some people will need a medical detox when they stop drinking to prevent serious health problems or even death. A doctor’s exam is needed to determine if medical detox is their first step before rehab. What that means is that the right thing to do when someone is an alcoholic is to get them to a reputable rehabilitation center the first moment possible.

There are Narconon rehab centers located across the United States and on five other continents. This is a long-term residential rehab with decades of experience in helping alcoholics.

Here’s one more thing to understand about alcoholism. When a person has been alcoholic for a considerable period of time, he or she has been putting off dealing with life’s problems all that time. Life skills tend to deteriorate or even disappear after a lengthy addiction. Therefore, to fully rehabilitate someone from alcohol abuse, the Narconon program emphasizes training in life skills for each person going through the program. Because of this and other steps of this unique program, it’s not necessary for every day after rehab to be a struggle with cravings. Daily meetings don’t have to be the only the solution – a new, fresher outlook and improved life skills are the answer to lasting sobriety.

Learn more about how to help an alcoholic friend or family member



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.