Worried About Someone's Alcohol Use

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It is quite common for people to experiment with alcohol and that experimentation may not necessarily lead to abuse. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if someone you know is abusing alcohol, especially if they may be hiding their use.

Helping someone you think is using alcohol. Helping someone who is not ready to change their behavior may be difficult. The decision for them to get help and to change their behavior is ultimately their responsibility. It may be helpful for you to talk to someone you trust like a family member, teacher or school or campus counselor about what is going on and how you feel. Tapping into information from an organization that specializes in substance abuse and treatment may be helpful for working out how best to handle your concerns and your feelings. The National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information(NCDAI) has a list of self-help resources that you may find helpful, and the Partnership for a Drug Free America has information broken down by age group for how to help others with a problem.

If you do decide to approach the person you are concerned about, there are several things you may want to remember.

Be informed. It is a good idea to have a general knowledge of some of the reasons for using alcohol, the effects and how to use it safely. By doing this, you are more able to stick to the facts.

Discuss your concerns openly and calmly. Letting the person you are concerned about know that you are open to listening to them without being judgmental can facilitate an open discussion. An open dialogue may encourage them to discuss their alcohol use with you. Part of being open-minded is to be able to talk calmly to them about your concerns. However, remember that engaging them in a confrontational way may only alienate them.

What to do if someone says they have a problem. If someone has come to you saying they have a problem, you may be able to assist them by encouraging them to get help and even, assist them by finding out what help is available in your area. Your doctor, counselor, teacher or even a family member may be able to help. See below for a link to a National treatment center directory.

More Information. If you would like immediate help with finding a substance abuse treatment center check out this directory provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations or call 1-800-662-HELP (in Spanish, 1-800-662-9832).

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.  

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