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How to Help Someone You Know with A Drinking Problem

Follow these tips for helping a family member or friend who has a drinking problem.

American Indian man with 2 American Indian womenRemember—you can’t make a person deal with a drinking problem. You can offer support and get help for yourself.

Step 1: Talk

  • Talk about your worries when the person is sober. Try to say what you think or feel, like "I am concerned about your drinking."
  • Give facts. Some people find it helpful just to get information. You could say, "I want to share some things I've learned about older adults and alcohol."
  • Try to stay away from labels like "alcoholic."
  • Ask if you can go to the doctor with your family member or friend.

Step 2: Offer Your Help

  • Suggest things to do that don't include drinking.
  • Encourage counseling or attending a group meeting. Offer to drive to and from these support meetings.
  • Give your support during treatment.

Step 3: Take Care of Yourself

  • You need support, too. Think about what you need to stay safe and healthy.
  • Involve other family members or friends so you are not in this alone. Talk honestly about how you are feeling. Try to say what support or help you need.
  • Try going to counseling or special meetings that offer support to families and friends of people with drinking problems. There may be programs at your local hospital or clinic. For example, Al-Anon is a support group for friends and family of people with a drinking problem. Find a meeting near you by calling 1-888-425-2666.


For More Information About Help for Alcohol Problems

Alcoholics Anonymous

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism                                                                         
National Institutes of Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
800-487-4889 (TTY)

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.