The 9 signs your loved one has dangerous booze dependency – and 7 ways to help

MOST people enjoy a drink every now and then and can stop with a glass or two of red wine or a few beers.

But for others, alcohol can become problematic, with some becoming dependent on it.

Alcohol can become problematic for some people, as many depend on alcohol just to get through the day


Alcohol can become problematic for some people, as many depend on alcohol just to get through the dayPhoto credit: Getty

More than half a million Brits are dependent on alcohol and it is estimated that two thirds of people with a drinking problem also suffer from depression, studies show.

Alcohol addiction affects different people in different ways, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that if your loved one is addicted, they may have started drinking every day.

You could also reach for alcohol first thing in the morning or in the evening, the instructions say.

But what are the top signs to look out for if you’re worried that your partner, friend, or family member is struggling?

According to the HSE, signs of alcohol addiction can include:

  1. not being able to function without alcohol – for example, not being able to go about your work or carry out everyday tasks
  2. Drinking has become an important or even the most important thing in life
  3. continue drinking despite negative consequences for you or your loved ones
  4. Difficulty controlling the amount or times you drink
  5. Difficulty stopping drinking when you want to
  6. cannot always plan with certainty how much you will drink on one occasion
  7. drink more and more alcohol
  8. Alcohol cravings or withdrawal symptoms
  9. does not appear to be intoxicated, having drunk large quantities.

The experts state that some people may not be completely addicted to alcohol, but still engage in harmful alcohol consumption patterns.

This could include periods of binge drinking followed by restriction.

When you’re concerned about someone else’s behavior, it can be difficult to know what to say or do.

Drinkaware’s experts state that before you reach out to them, try to think about how you would feel if a friend or loved one started a conversation with you about your drinking.

How to approach the situation:

  1. Choose a safe and comfortable place and use supportive language
  2. Show that you’re concerned and try the following phrase: “I’ve noticed that since you’ve been drinking more, you haven’t felt as positive. That’s not the kind of person I know you to be. I don’t do it to upset you, I do it because I worry.”
  3. Express how you feel: “I’m sad that we’re not doing X, Y, or Z anymore because it means we had a good time together.”
  4. Point out that they stopped doing things they enjoy: “I loved it when you went to yoga/soccer/your evening class, etc.”
  5. Ask what makes them want to drink
  6. Avoid criticism and try to keep open-ended questions like, “Don’t you think you have a problem?
  7. Fill out the Drinkaware unit calculator to start a conversation about consumption.

Sometimes it is enough to discuss the problem with your loved one.

However, they may also need professional help, so it’s important that you encourage them to talk to their GP about their feelings.

They can discuss the services and treatments available after they have evaluated their drinking habits using screening tests.

Treatment usually includes counseling and medication to help you slowly cut back on drinking and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of charities, support groups and private clinics that can help.

How to get help with alcohol

There are many helpful resources and tools to help you with your drinking problems.

Drinkline – Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).

Alcoholics Anonymous – free support group offering a 12 week plan

Al-Anon – A group for family members or friends struggling to help a loved one

Adfam – a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol

National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa – Helpline for children whose parents are addicted to alcohol – call 0800 358 3456 The 9 signs your loved one has dangerous booze dependency – and 7 ways to help

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