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If Someone You Know Has a Problem with Alcohol

There are few things in life that are more difficult to cope with than a loved one who is dealing with a serious alcohol issue or alcoholism. You love the person and want to reach out to them and help them, but at the same time you don’t want to contribute to their alcohol abuse or dependence (e.g., by giving them “rent money”). Here are a few tips to help you cope with someone who has an addiction to alcohol.

  • Do not wait for them to reach bottom, because their bottom may be jail, serious injury or death.
  • Remember that alcoholism is a bad disease that happens to good people, bad people and everyone in between. A person doesn’t “ask” to become an alcoholic.

Ask yourself: Of all the time, energy and tears I have invested in trying to make them stop, what has been successful? If the answer is “nothing,” you are in good company. Anger, tears and empty threats have never cured one single disease. If all the efforts you have made to help the addict have failed and have made you miserable in the process, then doing nothing would be just as successful, and perhaps your time would be more productively spent on the people for whom you can make a difference. Here are some additional suggestions:

  • Stop enabling the problem by making excuses or “doing for” the alcoholic. Your time is best spent in the solution, not the problem. When an alcoholic has to face the consequences of his or her actions directly, they are more interested in seeking help.
  • Never bluff and never threaten. Be willing to follow through on any threats or promises you make. Be sure to communicate these conditions clearly and calmly.
  • Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Let trusted friends, family or clergy in on the secret. Tell them you want their help.
  • Contact your EAP counselor through your workplace or an alcoholism professional in your community and ask for help.
  • Discuss doing an intervention if your alcoholic loved one won’t willingly seek help.
  • Decide how much longer you are willing to put up with the pain, fear and frustration caused by his or her alcoholism. That’s exactly how long it will continue. Consider attending a support group, such as Al-Anon, for more information and support in dealing with this issue.
If Someone You Know Has a Problem with Alcohol

Drew W. Edwards, Ed.D., MS

APA Reference
Edwards, D. (2018). If Someone You Know Has a Problem with Alcohol. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.