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How to Confront a Friend Who Drinks

by Judy Kilpatrick

Alcohol abuse can begin slowly; a person may start drinking as a social activity, but the habit may turn into a negative coping strategy or addiction. Some individuals are more prone to alcohol abuse or alcoholism than others. Predisposed individuals have more active responses to alcohol in the brain's reward centers, reports Medical News Today. In any case, abusing alcohol can lead to health, social and economic issues. It is important to prepare yourself before confronting a friend who drinks to excess.

Confront your friend when your friend is not under the influence of alcohol. Use tact and diplomacy. The way you confront your friend depends on your friend's particular drinking behaviors. If your friend tends to let you down or be unpredictable when he drinks, use "I" statements to discuss your disappointment and the difficulty of maintaining a friendship under the circumstances. Be prepared to set boundaries, such as refusing to attend certain types of functions with your friend. If your friend engages in risky behaviors or neglects responsibilities because of drinking, state your concerns for your friend's well-being.

Expect denial or anger. Individuals who abuse alcohol tend to minimize, even to themselves, the extent of their alcohol use and its negative consequences. Be prepared to offer concrete examples of problems created by your friend's alcohol use, but be sensitive. Make a couple of statements and then change the subject or end the conversation. Your friend may abruptly end the discussion or attempt to engage in an argument. If your friend doesn't want to talk, don't take it personally. If your friend attempts to argue, simply restate your willingness to help when your friend is ready.

Suggest resources to help your friend overcome a drinking problem. Before you confront your friend who drinks, check out local resources. Mental health organizations generally have a list of providers and meetings that help people address alcohol abuse. Hospitals and doctors' offices also keep lists of addiction resources. Pick up brochures and pamphlets to leave with your friend.

Ask your friend how you can help. Your friend may agree with you and acknowledge the drinking problem. This is a good sign and an indication that your friend is ready to address the problem. Tell your friend about the resources you identified and help your friend access help.

Tip

  • Establish your boundaries and do not make your friend's problem your own. One boundary is not to socialize with your friend at events where you know alcohol will be available. Instead, seek alcohol-free social activities.

About the Author

For Judy Kilpatrick, gardening is the best mental health therapy of all. Combining her interests in both of these fields, Kilpatrick is a professional flower grower and a practicing, licensed mental health therapist. A graduate of East Carolina University, Kilpatrick writes for national and regional publications.

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