Supporting your partner or loved one

Harmful drinking can cause significant issues not only for the drinker, but also for members of their family in the form of health problems, financial worries, relationship breakdown and parenting difficulties.

Not all of this information will be relevant during the coronavirus outbreak, but you can still access support, including online and over the phone.

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How to spot if your loved one is drinking too much?

A partner or a loved one might need help with their drinking if:

  • They are having frequent cravings to drink alcohol
  • They are unable to control the amount they drink
  • They are trying to hide their drinking from friends and loved ones
  • They become upset or stressed, or have difficulty making decisions, when going without alcohol

How to raise your concerns about their drinking

If a loved one is drinking heavily on a regular basis, it is likely that it is affecting your relationship. However, it’s important not to criticise or blame them, but to consider how you might talk to them with empathy about their drinking and the effect that this behaviour is having on you. It's a good idea to:

  • Plan what you are going to say
  • Pick a time when they are sober and therefore more receptive to your concerns
  • Avoid an argument - if it's not the right time, try again later

Offering practical support

Taking an active role in your loved one’s recovery can be a positive demonstration of your support and love, providing them with the courage and determination to overcome their alcohol issues.

You can offer practical support to your loved one by:

  • Encouraging them to get a check-up from their GP. If they are taking any medication, make sure that they are aware of any potential impact of their drinking on their medication
  • Encouraging them to drink plenty of water so that they don’t become dehydrated
  • Encouraging them to eat regularly, especially before they start to drink. Good nutrition is important in keeping them healthy
  • Making sure that they are not putting themselves and others at risk by drink driving
  • Remaining positive about their ability to change and offer praise for any small changes they are able to make

Support for you

Having a friend or family member who drinks heavily can be very hard, and often affects many more people than just the person who drinks. Family members of people who drink harmfully often find themselves stigmatised by their loved one’s drinking, feeling judged by other people or worried that they won’t be understood, leading to feelings of guilt and self-blame.

Supporting someone who is drinking heavily can be exhausting, but remember: you deserve support too.