With more than 17 million people struggling with alcoholism in the US, chances are one or more of your friends are alcoholics. Sure, maybe they’re not homeless, sleep in the gutter alcoholics, but they are dependent on alcohol for various reasons.
What about those who put their happy masks on, portraying themselves to be the social drinker, but really they’re closet alcoholics who want to stop drinking and can’t? Not only that, they are afraid and ashamed to talk to anyone about their concerns.
How to Tell if Your Friend Has an Alcohol Problem
If you are not sure if one of your friends is an alcoholic, here are some signs you can look for.
- Your friend is drinking more and more as time goes by. Maybe your friend used to drink one or two drinks while at social events, but now they are drinking four, five, or six. Whereas they used to drink more just to be social, they are now drinking more whether they want to or not. They’re having a tough time stopping at one or two.
- Your friend is drinking more at home alone. If you know that your friend is drinking at home alone more often or continually, this is a sign of alcoholism.
- Your friend is binge drinking on the weekends. Many alcoholics do fine during the week, but may get the party on after work on Friday and keep doing so all weekend long. If this happens every weekend, it could be a sign of alcoholism.
- Your friend is getting into trouble due to drinking. Has your friend missed work due to hangovers? Lost a relationship? Gotten a DUI? These could be signs of alcoholism.
- Mood changes when drinking. If your friend seems happy sober, but becomes miserable or angry when drinking, this could be a sign of alcoholism.
- Starts hanging out with party people. Maybe your friend used to hang out with those who didn’t really drink very much, but now he or she has gravitated toward those who party hard often. This could be because he or she is becoming dependent upon alcohol.
How to address this with your friend
If you’re wondering if a friend is struggling with alcoholism, get a conversation started about the topic. Sit down and have a real heart-to-heart when your friend is sober. Let him or her know your concern and do it in non-judgmental and compassionate way. Express that you’re genuinely concerned and would hope that if the situation was reversed, he or she would do the same.
It may sound something like this:
“Ann, we have been friends for awhile and you know I care about you. I’m not trying to be overbearing, but I’ve noticed that you’re drinking a lot more lately. I’ve also noticed that at times you seem unhappy. I’m concerned that they may be related. Can we talk about this?”
If your friend gets angry, affirm that you are there to love them unconditionally no matter what. Not every alcoholic can see that they have a problem, so you may simply have to speak your concern and then let it go.
With alcoholism being fairly prevalent in our society, chances are you’ll run into a friend here or there that may need a good friend for support. If you feel one of your friends is struggling with alcoholism, don’t be afraid to approach him or her and have a loving conversation. It really could be the springboard that turns the situation around and prompts your friend to do something about his or her drinking problem.
Dominica Applegate is dedicated to the art of self-discovery and creative expression with a passion for creative art. She’s got a deep-rooted passion for helping others heal emotional pain and trauma, as her own journey through love addiction has served as a catalyst for her own healing and beautiful transformation. Find out more at www.dominicaapplegate.com.