It’s hard to stand by and watch someone you care about damage themselves with alcohol or drugs

Whether it’s a child, parent, spouse or someone else you care for, you can feel powerless to help. At the end of the day they will have to make the decision to get better for themselves, but there are things you can do to gently nudge them in the right direction.

What you can do

Our best advice for helping someone else, including dos and don’ts for starting those difficult conversations and why it’s important to look after yourself too.

How HAGA can help

Once someone makes the decision to take control of their drinking, a strong support person can make all the difference on the road to recovery. But it’s not always easy being that person.

Find out how our family & carers service can help you

From specialist advice to the chance to meet others, HAGA, action on alcohol

We work with many people whose drinking is affecting family life

Helping them take control of their drinking, we provide support for them and their families. Jane is a perfect example of this.

Read how we’ve helped Jane

What you can do to help someone you care about

You may be worried about someone you care for deeply, but it’s important to understand that you are not responsible for their drinking – they are. And it’s hard for them to admit they’re drinking too much and need to cut down.

Photo taken from the Recovery Photo Project, ©HAGA, action on alcohol
Whether you are suffering the after-effects of a previous abusive relationship, or are within that environment right now, our services are there for you.

Dos and Don’ts

Discussing someone else’s drinking with them is tricky. It’s all too easy to say the wrong thing and get nowhere. Here are some basic guidelines to help.

Do be sensitive

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

Do 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.

Do stay calm

If someone is angry, aggressive, or repetitive, just try and be as patient as possible and don’t react to provocation.

Do stay safe

Alcohol can cause some people to become violent. If you are suffering, or have been subjected to, alcohol or drugs related domestic violence and live in Haringey Call: 020 8800 6999.

Don’t talk about alcohol addiction

Focus on health issues instead.

Don’t try discussing the issue if your loved one is drunk

They may get angry or even forget the conversation took place.

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 advisor.

Don’t go it alone

If you need someone to talk to, contact our family, friends and carers team on 07531 086 729 or 020 8801 3999

Raising the issue

To prevent your well meant conversation ending up as an argument, here are some tips on how to broach the subject of someone else’s drinking.

  • 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 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’.
  • Alcohol is a legal drug. Remember that if someone is over eighteen then it’s their choice whether they choose to make changes. You could encourage a loved one to this or the DontBottleItUp website to find out how risky their drinking is and start making changes.

Looking after yourself

It’s understandable that your main concern is for your loved one who is possibly drinking too much, but don’t forget your own needs. It can be lonely and stressful living with someone whose drinking is getting out of hand.

  • You need to look after yourself. You shouldn’t feel responsible for someone else’s decision to keep drinking.
  • Sometimes when someone is drunk, they can get violent and abusive. If you feel in danger then it’s important you seek help. We offer help, support and intervention in Haringey for those affected by domestic abuse and substance misuse, call 020 8800 6999.
  • If you need someone to talk to for confidential advice, we can help. We offer support for families in Haringey affected by alcohol and drugs. Call 07531 086 729 or 020 8801 3999.
  • If you are under eighteen and need to talk about someone else’s drinking or drug use, please contact Insight Haringey for confidential advice and help: call 020 8493 8525