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Helping Someone With Alcohol or Drug Problem

If someone confides in you that he or she has a problem with alcohol or other drugs, some ways of dealing with this situation clearly work better than others. You should try to be:

  • Understanding – listen to reasons why he or she uses/ abuses alcohol or other drugs;
  • Firm – explain why you feel that use of alcohol or other drugs can be harmful, causing problems which require counseling and treatment;
  • Supportive – assist the user in finding help and provide moral support through the tough times ahead;
  • Self-examining – ask yourself whither you have provided a good role model.

Actions that you should avoid include being:

  • Sarcastic
  • Accusatory
  • Stigmatizing
  • Sympathy seeking for yourself, or
  • Self-blaming.
Alcohol or Drug addiction

Alcohol or drug problems can cause other severe problems.

Intervening in the case of a family member or friend who has a problem can be very difficult and hurtful. The person with the problem will most likely deny the problem and try to put you on the defensive – “I thought you were my friend.”; “Are you calling me a drunk?”; or “You’ve used drugs, where do you get off calling me an addict?”

In a case such as this, what you don’t do is as important as what you should do:

  • Avoid emotional appeals, which may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use drugs.
  • Don’t cover up or make excuses for the person.
  • Don’t take over his or her responsibilities, which will leave the person with no sense of importance or dignity.
  • Don’t argue with the person when he or she is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Don’t hide or dump bottles nor shelter your loved one from situations where alcohol is present.
  • Above all, don’t accept responsibility for the person’s actions nor guilt for his or her drinking.

source: Steuben County Youth Bureau

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