When someone is struggling with alcohol abuse, their friends often realize it before they do. Many people struggling with substance abuse — and alcohol abuse, in particular — go through a long period of denial during which they insist (and actually believe) that nothing is wrong, and that they have control over their use of the substance. It can be hard to know how to help your friend when they're in this stage. If you accuse them of having alcoholism or insist they get treatment, they're likely to just double-down on their position that they're okay. So, how can you help a friend who you suspect is abusing alcohol? Here are a few ideas.
Don't enable them.
So many people who abuse alcohol are enabled by their friends and family members. This does not mean those friends and family members have bad intentions — quite the opposite, actually! But while you may think you're being nice to your friend by pouring them shots or drinking alongside them, you're helping to enable their substance abuse. Instead, start suggesting activities the two of you can do that don't involve drinking. If you are out drinking with them, suggest it is time to call it quits and go home before either of you have too much. Don't be the one who invites them to parties where alcohol is the focus.
Talk about alcohol abuse in a less personal way.
You might try bringing up the subject of alcohol abuse and alcohol abuse treatment without directly accusing your friend of having a problem. For example, if you know someone else who has gone to rehab, you can bring up the topic and comment on how positive the experience was for them. If you've ever struggled with addiction in your past — even if just slightly — you can be open about this. By talking about alcohol abuse without confronting your friend, you may help them come to their own realization that they do have a problem.
Be ready to support them when they do get help.
Your friend may be deep in denial right now, but at any point, they could turn around and decide to seek help. Make sure you are ready and willing to help them when that time comes. You can offer them a ride to rehab. If you're able, you may even want to save up some money to help them pay for the treatment they need. And most importantly, be ready to listen when they need someone to lend an ear.
It can be hard to watch a friend struggling with addiction, but by taking a gentle approach, you can better support them when they make their own decision to pursue treatment.
For more information, reach out to an alcohol abuse treatment center.