It’s really difficult when someone you care about like your partner, parent, child, friend or other loved one is drinking too much. It can feel like they’re two different people: the sober one and the drunk one.

It’s natural that you would want to care for a loved one. But it’s important to remember that it’s a big step for someone else to realise they’re drinking too much and need to cut down their alcohol intake.

Raising the issue of drinking too much

It’s important to choose the right time to talk.
Don’t try discussing the issue if your loved one is drunk as they may get angry or even forget the conversation took place.

Try to be sensitive.
Using words like ‘alcoholic’ or ‘drinking problem’ will only make them defensive and put them on the back foot.

Be patient.
It can take some time and several conversations for someone to commit to changing. Remember that it’s their decision to change and not yours.

Don’t try to act as a counsellor or support.
You can help them start to consider their drinking but the best person for them to talk to is their GP, nurse or a specialist alcohol worker.

Don’t forget yourself

You need to look after yourself. You shouldn’t feel responsible for someone else’s decision to keep drinking. Details about support groups and helplines can be found here.

Tips on helping a loved one

It can be tricky talking about alcohol with someone who may be drinking too much. Here are our tips on how to raise the issue:

  • Choose a suitable time when your friend or loved one is able to concentrate and participate in a conversation.
  • Try to keep the discussion about alcohol and related to the consequences of their drinking (rather than about whether they do or do not have an alcohol problem).
  • If you can get a general discussion going around health (such as sleeping or eating in general) your friend or loved one may be more willing to see their GP rather than an ‘alcohol worker’. 
  • Stay calm. If someone is angry, aggressive, or repetitive, just try and be as patient as possible and don’t react to provocation.
  • You could encourage a loved one to this website to find out how risky their drinking and start making changes.
  • Alcohol is a legal drug. Remember that if someone is over eighteen then it’s their choice whether they choose to make changes.


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