Do you ever wonder if someone you care about might have a problem with alcohol addiction? Alcohol is such an accepted part of most people’s lives and it can be very difficult to know if a friend or loved one is abusing alcohol. Even drinking too much and acting in ways that are not appropriate may not be considered a problem if it doesn’t happen very often.
Drinking every day has become normalised, with wine still advertised as the ideal drink to have with a meal or when spending time with friends. As the weather starts to get warmer, going to the pub and sitting in a beer garden with an alcoholic drink is a common occurrence. Alcohol permeates every part of daily life and it can feel like a harmless way to relax or build confidence or help you feel better. After all, if something bad happens, you drink to forget; when something good happens, you drink to celebrate, and if you’re socialising, you drink because everyone else is.
This makes it even more stressful if you want to approach a friend or loved one about their alcohol use. Here are seven signs of alcohol addiction you can look out for that signal someone might be struggling with alcohol addiction.
7 Signs of Alcohol Addiction
- Neglecting their personal hygiene, such as greasy hair, bad breath, and body odour.
- Wearing unclean clothes.
- Regularly missing work without a real explanation.
- Making up reasons to drink
- Always offering to buy rounds when out socialising and encouraging people to drink more than they would normally.
- Avoiding important work and social events
- Drinking every day and always ensuring they have alcohol in the house.
If you notice the signs above, some physical signs and symptoms may also indicate alcohol abuse, including:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Memory loss
- Reddening and spider veins on the face and nose.
Although you may not know if someone is addicted to alcohol, talking about the signs and symptoms you have noticed is still worthwhile. By reaching out, you open the door for someone to realise that they need to ask for help.
There will be people who will be resistant. Alcohol maybe their crutch, the one thing they feel they can rely on to help them relax or give them a lift. Other people may feel life would be boring without alcohol or worry that they wouldn’t feel confident socialising sober.
There are so many reasons why people will deny they have a problem and not everyone will respond well when asked about their drinking. Here are five steps to speaking to a friend or loved one about alcohol misuse and how to try to help them access treatment and alcohol rehab.
Talking to Someone about Alcohol Addiction — 5 Steps
Approaching a friend or loved one about their alcohol use requires patience and understanding. No one wants to feel judged, and what you say and how you say it is crucial to produce a positive outcome.
- Arrange a time to speak when they will be sober; you could ask them to go to lunch or to talk when they get in before they have a drink.
- Ask how they are feeling. You could ask questions such as, are they going through a hard time, is there anything they are worried about or ask about their family.
- Give them time to just speak. It doesn’t matter if they don’t mention drinking; just let them talk and listen.
- Don’t offer solutions to their problems or try to make them feel better by minimizing their concerns.
- When they finish talking, reassure them you care and this is why you are concerned about their drinking.
- Don’t accuse them of drinking too much; instead, you can say things like,
- “Is something making you stressed, because I know you love your job and recently you have been missing work” or
- “I noticed you left the social event early, that’s not like you, and I was wondering if maybe something is going on?”
- Stay calm regardless of how they respond. If they are angry or upset, don’t take it personally, the best thing to do is to let them know you care and you are there for them if they ever need to talk.
How to Help a Friend or Loved One Access Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
After speaking to a friend or loved one, it is a good idea to feel comfortable talking about alcohol addiction treatment options. Find out what resources are available for them in the area. Have information about alcohol detox options and outpatient and residential rehab.
Offer to go with them to find out about treatment or rehab, but be prepared that they may not be ready to go ahead and seek treatment. They may say it’s only a short-term issue, get angry and defensive, refuse to discuss seeking treatment, or even try to make a joke out of the suggestion. Don’t feel disheartened; it is common for people to deny that they have an alcohol addiction — especially to themselves. Accepting they need help is a lot harder and resisting anything that feels scary is a normal reaction.
If they decline, just let them know they can call you if they need any help and ask if they would like to check in with you again in a couple of weeks. This takes the pressure off and gives space for them to think about why they should consider having treatment.
You can’t push someone to have treatment, it’s their decision and it might take them to hit rock bottom before they seek treatment and help. All you can do is let them know you will not give up on them, even if they give up on themselves.