Get Help with a Drinking Problem

Edited by VisiHow, Eng, Doug Collins, Train Wreck

If you drink enough alcohol that it disrupts your life and creates difficulties with work, family, or friends, you may have a drinking problem. One of the first steps to getting help is accepting the fact that your relationship with alcohol isn't as perfect as you might like it to be. The good news is that you're not alone if you have a drinking problem. The truth is that more people have a drinking problem than society generally accepts. That person you may know who drinks too much and shows up late to work more than once, or the other one who always has to go back to the bar after work to pick up his or her car -- they have a drinking problem too.

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Unfortunately popular culture has blurred the line between a drinking problem and alcoholism. The two issues are actually very different though. Someone with a drinking problem is occasionally late to work, or drinks too much at parties, but otherwise functions just fine in life without alcohol. They just have a problem, which is relatively easy to fix in comparison to an addiction. That's what alcoholism is. It's an addiction, and it destroys the lives of those who suffer from it. Alcoholism is not easy to fix, and may even require an intervention. However, the one thing both alcoholism and having a problem with alcohol share in common is the fact that once you have admitted there is a problem, you've taken your first steps on the road to recovery.

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Sadly there is no ultimate solution to the problem. What works for one person may not work for another. In some cases, one bad habit may even be replaced by another bad habit. If you need to better understand and recognize the signs of a drinking problem, please read our article on how to tell if you have a drinking problem. If you recognize that there is a drinking problem and are wondering where you can turn to for help, review the tips presented below. Don't forget to take into account that asking for or obtaining help requires you to work on yourself, which we will review in more detail below, in the "Self-Help" section. We've also included a section on how to help your significant others or friends.

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Asking for Help

Perhaps the most famous phrase involving alcohol is "Hello! My name is John, and I am an alcoholic" from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) treatment program. AA is a widely-known recovery program for those suffering from alcoholism. Other people aim for clinical drug rehabilitation. Remember in your search, however, to never join an organization or treatment program other than those appearing on the list of safe organizations in the References section, unless you have heard about it from someone you trust. Some treatment programs will simply replace one problem with another and fail to lead you back to the sober lifestyle you are seeking. When looking at treatment options such as rehabilitation centers, hospitals, as well as AA-style groups; do not exclude the possibility of visiting several of them prior to making your decision.

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    Pair up.
    If you know of another person who also suffers from a drinking problem and wants help, look into joining a program together. While many people may at first feel shame over their situation, the presence of someone you know can help motivate you to stay on the path you have chosen. Be honest and accountable to each other and celebrate your victories together by going to a theme park or a good alcohol-free café or restaurant, preferably with your significant others.
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  2. 2
    Another possible first step that you can take is to consult your family doctor, local clinic, or hospital.
    In your appointment, it is important to answer his or her questions as honestly as possible. Then, depending on the severity of dependency, several treatment options will be suggested, including detoxification, medication, and counselling.
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    You may also consider a rehabilitation center.
    Not everyone who goes into rehab is an alcoholic. In fact, many people check themselves in for a short period of time just to get help. Being exposed to those who have more severe alcohol dependencies can be an eye opening experience, and sometimes is enough to shake someone up to the point that they are no longer interested in drinking.
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Helping a Friend

If you want to help friends, there's a right way and a wrong way. The closer you are to someone in terms of familial or blood relations, the more rights you have to insist on treatment. In some parts of the world, you can even compel treatment, checking a loved one into a rehab center.

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  1. 1
    Talk, ask, demand, and help.
    As a friend or spouse, simply accepting that there is a problem is not a solution. You have to help the person, even if he or she is in denial. Tell them stories of what has happened to others who did not stop in time. Sometimes, people need to hear from others through conversation how difficult it is to ask for and accept help. Then you need to ask them to get help. If you fail to convince the person to accept help, then it's time to demand they get help. Otherwise you risk watching them lose everything, including their family, friends and job.
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    Do not mix alcohol with other substances.
    You may have read about substances that will help a person stop drinking, or in some cases make them drink less. While these substances do exist, they should only be administered by a medical professional, or by the person who is having a drink. Attempting to secretly mix something in their drink can be ineffective and dangerous. Worse, if they later need medical treatment, unexpected complications can arise when no one is aware of the other substance in the person's system.
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Helping yourself is one of the most important things you can do in combination with getting help from other people. This means taking care of yourself, and paying attention to things that cause problems for you.

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    Practice moderation.
    Some people have a natural sense of moderation, while others aren't as able to control themselves. Developing discipline can be one solution if you find yourself unable to quit drinking. Ask yourself several questions:
    • "When and where do I drink?"
    • "With whom do I drink?"
    • "How many times a day do I drink?"
      The awareness that you gain from answering these questions honestly should help you gradually reduce your consumption of alcohol. After a period of strict control over your habits, you will naturally begin to accept moderation in place of your previous excess. You may also carry a notepad and a pen with you in order to mark alcohol triggers: reasons, locations, persons, and times. Either at the beginning of the next day, or the end of your current day, total how many marks you have made. You can use this list to begin eliminating triggers one by one, and also to keep track of your progress.
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  2. 2
    Where do you drink?
    If you often go to the bar on weekends, then maybe it is time to change the bar to a music club or other venue in which alcohol will not be the focus. If you find that you typically drink alcohol while you are watching TV at nights, go to the cinema for a movie and buy popcorn instead. Changing the setting can often help you eliminate the need to have a drink.
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    Substitution of habits.
    Instead of simply cutting a bad habit and finding yourself idle, try replacing your bad habit with a more positive habit. For example, you can watch films and instead of drinking in a bar. Alternatively you can hire a trainer and start visiting a gym, in most cases spending significantly less than you would on drinking. Other ideas are to go to the library, get a second job, or start a new hobby. These types of activities will take up time you might otherwise have been thinking about drinking in. This will cause you to think less about reaching for another drink.
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  4. 4
    Find constructive ways to deal with stress.
    If you are experiencing stress, you need to find a way that you can manage it constructively. Stress is at times an unavoidable part of our lives, however, it can have serious health consequences when not properly dealt with. Many people are tempted to manage their stress by drinking alcohol, but there are other healthier ways to put yourself in a better mood. You can divert your frustration and thoughts by playing games with your friends; writing songs, stories, or poems; or even exercising.
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  5. 5
    Adopt new eating habits.
    Some of the things we eat may be made with alcohol. If you adopt new eating habits or start a new diet, make sure it does not include anything things made with alcohol. You may need to pay closer attention to the labels of products you buy, but this is an effective strategy to help avoid alcohol.
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    Change your friends or your profession, if necessary.
    In certain professions, drinking is much more common, and your colleagues may pressure you and constantly tempt you with an evening of socializing at the bar. In extreme cases, you may need to make drastic changes to your profession and/or your social circle. As someone who is trying to break an addictive habit, you may not yet be strong enough to confidently turn down these types of offers. You may find that you are more successful in your efforts if you simply disconnect from people and situations that tempt you to start drinking again and fall back into your old habits.
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Tips and Tricks

  • When you admit to having a drinking problem, commit to resolving it. This involves weighing the costs of drinking and the benefits of not drinking.
  • Prepare for the positive changes that come when you stop drinking. Set goals for yourself, with general dates and ideas, such as 'spend a weekend hiking -- summer', or 'visit New York -- fall'. General goals are easier to keep. By not attaching your goals to activities that don't involve alcohol you will benefit from not drinking and focusing on things that don't involve alcohol.
  • Fight withdrawal symptoms if they happen by replacing bad habits with good habits. That means you need to challenge your triggers for drinking. If you like to drink when you smoke, then consider quitting. If bars are places you drink, then find somewhere else to go, or choose a non-alcoholic bar.

Links and References

1. "Addiction: Treatment: What is Detox?".

2. Al-Anon and Alateen Rehabilitation.

3. Alcoholics Anonymous Rehabilitation.

4. Addaction Rehabilitation.

5. Adfam.

6. SMART Recovery.

7. Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers Near You.


What are your thoughts on alcohol dependency? Have you ever helped someone with alcohol-related problems? Have you given up on alcohol? If you have, then how have you done it? Please share it with us! Leave your questions or comments in the section below.

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See more of our articles on alcohol problems: Eat Before Drinking, Treat Alcohol Poisoning, Get Rid of Alcohol Breath, Drink Reponsibly, and Drink Alcohol and Exercise.


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Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Doug Collins, Eng, VisiHow

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