If the person denies having a problem or refuses help, do not take the person’s denial personally. Denial is a very common reaction in people with alcohol problems.
Listed below are possible next steps. Consider taking one or more of them.
- Tell the person you would be glad to help when he or she is ready.
- Provide the telephone number of a support group nearby, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Ask someone else close to the person, such as a family member or friend, to talk with him or her.
- Talk with a mental health or substance abuse professional to get advice and support. He or she may suggest that you carry out an "intervention."
What Is An Intervention?
An intervention is a planned action that a group of two or more people take by meeting with the person with an alcohol problem to get him or her to seek treatment. They are concerned about the alcoholic person and want to help him or her stop the destructive effects of drinking and develop new, healthier ways of coping.
In an intervention, the group tells the alcoholic person in a clear but caring way how the drinking is affecting them as well as the group members. This discussion should include specific examples. It is aimed at making the person with an alcohol problem face the effects of his or her drinking and generating motivation to seek treatment.
In some cases the alcoholic person is also given consequences that will occur if he or she does not seek treatment. For example, a spouse or partner may leave the alcoholic if he or she does not seek treatment. Although this may seem harsh, the intention is caring and the goal is to help the alcoholic person get treatment so that he or she can recover.
An intervention can be initiated by anyone who cares about the alcoholic person and is affected by his or her drinking, including a spouse, child, parent, friend, or employer. It should be done with the guidance of a professional who is trained in carrying out interventions. At the end, specific steps for seeking treatment should be suggested.
What Can I Do To Take Care Of Myself?
Be sure to take care of yourself while helping the drinker. Keep these points in mind:
- The person’s drinking is not your fault, and you are not responsible for his or her recovery. You can only try to help the person deal with the problem.
- Recovery from an alcohol problem can take a long time and involve several relapses and rounds of treatment. Try to be patient with this process.
- If the drinker becomes violent toward you, immediately call for help from police and emergency services. Leave the area if possible.
- Get support from other people.
Whether or not the drinker seeks help, you may want to share experiences, information and support with other people in your situation. Consider attending a support group like Al-Anon for family and friends of people with alcohol problems. To find a group in your area, look in the phone book or contact a hospital or alcohol treatment center near you. If you want professional counseling, talk with your health care provider or a mental health or substance abuse professional.