If you are wondering how to help an alcoholic friend, you first need to determine whether your friend truly needs help and whether he or she is ready to accept help. Educating yourself is another step on the path to helping your alcoholic friend. Once your friend decides to seek help for his or her addiction, you should be ready to offer constructive advice and make recommendations about treatment programs.

How to Tell If Your Fried Has a Problem

If you find yourself occasionally thinking “My friend drinks too much” or “I think my friend is an alcoholic,” this could be a sign that your friend’s drinking has crossed into the realm of alcohol abuse. Having an occasional drink is not a problem, but if your friend is drinking heavily or seems to be unable to control how much he or she drinks, these are symptoms of alcohol abuse or alcoholism. If your friend becomes violent when drinking, drives while drunk, or drinks at inappropriate times, these behaviors also indicate a problem.

Is a loved one struggling with alcohol?

Educating yourself about addiction

In order to figure out the best way to help an alcoholic friend, you first must learn about alcoholism and alcohol abuse. The more you know about the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, the easier it will be for you to spot problem behaviors in your friend. It is also a good idea to learn about treatment options, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and how to tell the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse. You might also want to attend a support group for people who care for an alcoholic, such as Al-Anon.

Confronting the problem

Starting an aggressive confrontation that puts the alcoholic on the defensive doesn’t help an alcoholic friend. Before talking to your friend about his or her drinking, talk to a counselor or psychologist about what you plan to say. You might also want to get other friends involved who also want to help the alcoholic. One possible approach is to tell your friend that you spoke to a therapist about his or her alcohol use because you are worried about it. This gives your friend the chance to think about the problem and realize that it is harming others.

How to Help Others Struggling with Alcohol

Setting Limits

An important part of helping an alcoholic friend is setting limits within the friendship. If you let your friend’s behavior impact your life or make excuses for your friend’s drinking, your friend may be less able to recognize the problem and less likely to seek help. Determine the boundaries you will live by and stick to them, even if your alcoholic friend gets angry. Reasonable limits include refusing to lie for your friend about his or her drinking, refusing to supply your friend with alcohol, and refusing to engage in arguments when your friend is drunk. It is especially important not to do things for your friend that he or she should be handling himself or herself. If you do things to save your friend from the consequences of alcoholism, it could take your friend much longer to reach the point where he or she is willing to seek help.

How to help an alcoholic friend get treatment

If your friend agrees that he or she has a problem, but is unsure how to stop drinking, you can help your friend by discussing potential solutions. It is a good idea to have some information on hand about treatment centers and how treatment for alcoholism works so that you can help your friend understand the process. You might also want to ask your friend how you can be of support. This might involve driving the friend to a treatment center or to an AA meeting. It could also mean helping the alcoholic with daily errands or tasks while he or she is in rehab. To learn more about how to help an alcoholic friend, call us for a free, confidential referral.

With your friend’s insurance information on hand, you can also use the free and confidential form below to see if treatment is covered.

All Fields Required
First Name
Last Name
Phone Number
Date of Birth
Insurance Carrier
american addiction centers photo
Membership ID
This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
By submitting this form you agree to the terms of use and privacy policy of the website.
We respect your privacy. We request this information to provide you with detailed coverage of benefits. By sharing your phone number, you agree to receive texts from us – including details about your benefits. Message and data rates may apply. Sharing this information is not a condition of treatment.
*reCAPTCHA has identified you as a robot
Verifying Insurance...
1 Insurance Disclaimer: American Addiction Centers will attempt to verify your health insurance benefits and/or necessary authorizations on your behalf. Please note, this is only a quote of benefits and/or authorization. We cannot guarantee payment or verification eligibility as conveyed by your health insurance provider will be accurate and complete. Payment of benefits are subject to all terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions of the member’s contract at time of service. Your health insurance company will only pay for services that it determines to be “reasonable and necessary.” American Addiction Centers will make every effort to have all services preauthorized by your health insurance company. If your health insurance company determines that a particular service is not reasonable and necessary, or that a particular service is not covered under your plan, your insurer will deny payment for that service and it will become your responsibility.