Krista is worried about Becca. They’ve been friends for years, so Krista can tell when something is “off” with her friend. And lately, something seems off.
Krista has noticed Becca being a lot less social. She spends more time at home, alone. When they do go out, Becca orders more drinks than she used to. Krista has also noticed Becca’s kitchen is well-stocked with alcohol these days, too.
Becca has struggled with anxiety and bouts of depression over the years; Krista’s worried her friend is using to alcohol to cope with those feelings. She doesn’t want to see Becca go down that road, but, she’s not sure how to help.
Get Ready for the Conversation
Ever been in Krista’s shoes? With more than 13 million Americans currentlydependant on alcohol, it’s likely you have – or will someday.
If you’re concerned about a friend’s relationship with alcohol, take the following steps to provide the support they need.
- Educate Yourself
Learn about alcoholism and substance abuse. It’s important to gain a better understanding of what they’re going through. Research where and how to get help. Your friend has to be the one to decide to use these resources, but it’s good to be prepared if/when they ask you for help. With the right preparation, you’ll be ready (with solid advice and resources) when they’re ready.
- Write it Down
Conversations about alcoholism are difficult. Confronting your friend about such a sensitive issue will likely create an emotionally charged situation. That makes it easy to get off track and leave out a lot of the things you’d planned to say. Try writing it all down. Compose a letter to your friend, telling him or her how much you care and why you’re concerned for them. Talk about the changes you’ve seen, your desire to help them, and your commitment to your friendship.
Having everything written down will help get your thoughts organized and it can be therapeutic for you, as well. You can read this letter to your friend in person, or use it as a guide while practicing your “speech” for the real thing.
- Be Realistic
If your best friend is struggling with alcoholism, the road to recovery may be a long one. It usually has a few false starts, setbacks, and disappointments, as well as victories. Prepare yourself for their initial denial of the problem and for a challenging road ahead. And be sure to keep the following in mind:
* You aren’t responsible for your friend’s decisions.
* You can’t make them change.
* No matter what you say, you can’t “fix” them in a day.
- Educate Yourself
- Gather Reinforcements
Do you have any mutual friends? Do you know a few of their family members? Reach out to them. See if they have noticed the things you’ve noticed. They may be able to help you talk to your friend. You can partner with other loved ones to apply the CRAFT method or hold an intervention.
- Put Your Oxygen Mask on First
Consider finding support for yourself, too. If your friend’s choices have had a negative impact on your life, you might benefit from counseling or a support group. What’s even better, as you work through your own issues, you become better equipped to help your friend.
Additional Reading: When Does a Moderate Drinker Turn into an Alcoholic?
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