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Other people’s drinking – should you mention it?

It can be difficult to know what you do when you suspect that a friend or loved one may be struggling with an addiction to alcohol.

If you’re worried about someone else’s drinking, you may be able to identify with some of the following situations:

“My daughter drinks a bottle of wine a night when she sits watching TV or chatting with her friends. I feel very worried about the damage she is doing to her health, but when a close friend of mine talked to her own daughter about her excessive drinking, she simply drank more – in defiance!” – Laura*

“My husband drinks far too much, but I am frightened that if I mention it, he’ll go mad. He’s got a dreadful temper; drunk or sober.” – Jane*

“My girlfriend drinks first thing in the morning. When she can’t get her hands on booze at that time of day, the withdrawal symptoms she experiences sometimes make her hallucinate and she can be incredibly aggressive. I’m afraid that if I talk to her about her alcohol abuse she will leave me and I don’t want to lose her” – Omar*

“I work as a personal assistant for a high-flying entrepreneur. It is a dream job; we sometimes travel to meetings by helicopter, stay in 5-star hotels, enjoy fine dining, and jet across the globe to attend conferences. The problem is that my boss is slowly killing himself with alcohol. When I gently broached the subject last year he snapped at me, telling me to concentrate on running his work diary and to keep my nose out of his personal life! It’s not that easy though; we’re thrown together sometimes seven days a week.” Collette*

“My son, Ritchie, plays electric and acoustic guitar in a touring tribute band. He also seems to have learned how to drink like a rock star. My husband finds it funny, but I don’t. With all the booze he is putting away night after night while on the road with the band, Ritchie looks years older every time he comes back from a tour. I really want to talk to him about the lifestyle he’s leading, but I’m afraid that he’ll abruptly cut off contact and go his own way in life entirely if I do.” – Evelyn*

A softly, softly approach usually works best

For countless people, starting the conversation about alcohol abuse can seem impossible. However, engaging the drinker in dialogue in a friendly ‘no pressure’ way – i.e. coming at it seemingly casually, rather than in a pre-planned way – is proven as being the best approach. This can sometimes lead to a complete cessation of drinking, or at least a considerable reduction in a drinker’s regular alcohol consumption level.

*All names have been changed.

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