I'm concerned about someone in my life and his or her alcohol or drug use. How do I approach them about it?
Last Updated: 12/03/2018 at 3:44pm
Kristin Noyes, MSW, LCSW
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
Depression and anxiety can feel overwhelming even on the best of days. I believe in helping clients understand these disorders and help them to reduce and manage symptoms.
Top Rated Answers
With caution. Discuss the concern with people you're mutually close with, for example if it's a member of your family, with other family members. If the person in your life isn't ready for help or is in denial about his or her usage, I would contact a health professional. Approaching people in a confrontational way can have severe outcomes.
Never judge! Approach them with love. Be there for every step. Tell them how much you care about them.
Showing that person that you care is the best thing you can do for them. Often times just offering them a shoulder to lean on is really enough to help them out. You can ask them about their alcohol /drug use, but don't pry too much because it will make them feel like you don't accept them. If they want the support they will usually try to talk to you. If they aren't an adult reaching out to an adult in their life can also be helpful if they are in medical danger.
Think about what you are going to say. Maybe write down a plan, and work out what you want to achieve by talking with them. Remember to listen to this person, be compassionate and understanding to what they are going through. Always keep calm and collective, even when things get tough. Make your feelings clear and heard
I would attempt to approach them with humility. I would establish or confirm the relationship that we have. For example, "You and I have been friends for sometime. And you know that I care about you and your life and you know that I want the best things for your life, Right?" So, I would share my concern like, "I am concerned about alcohol usage and I fear that it will have a negative affect on you. I would like for you to get help. Will you consider getting help?" That's my 2 cents. :)
You should talk to them about what are they doing with their life, how it affects the people that surrounds them and how it may affect them to as social and physically
Try approaching them with a related subject suck as a smell, or burnt cloths, or even something as far off as just hanging out in general.
Explain to them your concern and say you want to help, drugs and alcohol is one of the biggest killers and you don't want to see this person gradually kill themselves. People who binge drink are certain that they're not alcoholics when really they sometimes are, help by taking this person to one side and explain what they're doing to themselves, don't announce this to other friends though, keep the conversation between you and the other person. Hopefully this helps :)
Let them know you care about them and their well being. Letting them know you are concerned and that you care, may be exactly what they need.
You can raise the issue in a kind, non-jugemental way. But as an alcoholic and addict, I know that for many of us, wanting to stop is a decision that we have to make for ourselves--once we reach the point where the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same.
I think that, if you are sure that there seems to be a problem, confrontation is key. Dropping hints and such can be ineffective.
In my experience, a direct approach is the best way to bring this topic up. No sugar coating just really taking about it straight forward and making the face the truth with facts but at the same time offer them support and help.
The main idea here is to not judge or accuse or look down upon this person for having an addiction. An approach I use is to first start the conversation by telling the individual how much you care, that you really enjoy the fact that they are in your life, and that you want them to continue to be in your life. These positive messages are more likely to encourage the person to stay and listen to what you have to say - they put them in a comfortable place. Then I would address the addiction by stating that you feel that the addiction may not allow them to continue to effectively remain in your life. Express your fear - make the conversation, in a way, about you, how his or her behavior affects you. The relationship is very important to "you" - emphasize this and how you would be crushed if the relationship took a turn for the worse because of the addiction. I hope this is of some help.
You can start by telling them how you feel about it. You could say it concerns you or makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you are worried about them and any negative impacts it may be having on their or your life. Maybe you are concerned that the will not be able to stop and it could become a dangerous habit to them. Tell them your concerns. Maybe you could offer to spend time with them and do some healthy things together like go get some ice cream or kick a soccer ball around.
Alcohol and drugs are used when someone is looking for an escape. What are they escaping from? Do you know? Try to talk to them without sounding like you are condemning them. People respond best when they don't feel criticized. Approach it from a non judgmental angle and describe your feelings. It's really up to them if they want to change. You can't make someone do something, they have to want to do it themselves. See if you can stir up a need to have a different lifestyle. Find reasons why living life sober is better than drunk/high. Here's one reason to get you started: you remember your loved ones and the people most important to you when sober, but not when high. There's a lot of reasons you can find but only the reasons they think are important will really sink in.
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