Helping a Friend With Alcoholism

Alcohol Use Disorder - Helping a friend with Alcoholism

We all want the best for our friends. We all want to see our friends do well, and it pains us to see them struggling with something.

You have been seeing your friend struggle with something lately. While you didn’t think much of it at first, it has now become clear to you that your friend has a toxic relationship with alcohol. You start to think, “They have alcoholism.” And then you start to think, “How in the world can I help them?”

Ripple Ranch is here to help you learn how to help a friend with alcoholism and learn about options for treatment.

What Is Alcoholism/Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), commonly known as alcoholism, is an addiction to alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are certain criteria to determine if someone has AUD. These criteria are included in the following questions.

In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  • Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unprotected sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Answering “yes” to two to three of the criteria means you have mild AUD, answering “yes” to four or five means you have moderate AUD, and answering “yes” to six or more means that you have severe AUD.

Now let’s take a look at some of the specific do’s and don’ts when talking to a friend about their drinking.

1. Don’t Call Them an Alcoholic

We are accustomed to using stigmatizing (negative) language when discussing people who have an addiction. We unfairly categorize them by their addiction, hence calling someone an “addict,” or in this case, an “alcoholic.” Calling someone an “alcoholic” will make them wary of you and less likely to trust that you want to help them.

The less stigmatizing term would be “a person struggling with alcohol use disorder,” or “a person struggling with alcohol addiction.” These changes to language may seem minor to some, but they will mean the world to your friend who is struggling.

2. Talk Respectfully, But Honestly

This is one of the most important parts of helping someone. When discussing someone’s addiction and how it is affecting the ones around them, tensions can run quite high. Be prepared for a negative reaction. However, stay on topic and remember that you want to help your friend, not hurt them.

Say things like, “I’m worried that you might be drinking too much, and I’m here to help you,” as opposed to accusatory statements like, “You are an alcoholic and you need help.” The difference is that one comes from a place of care, while the other comes from a place of anger. While your friend may get defensive at the first comment, they will become even more defensive and angry at the second comment.

3. Practice What You Want to Say

Practicing what you want to say helps you avoid calling your friend an “alcoholic.” Your feelings will rise since you are discussing your friend’s alcohol use. Remember: The goal is to help your friend, not hurt them.

Use “I” statements as opposed to “you” statements. This way, you’re focusing on how you feel instead of using accusatory statements. They will probably have a negative reaction, but it will make sure that you stay on task with the topic.

4. Do It at the Right Time and Place

When confronting your friend about their addiction, make sure that they are sober. Many times, people believe that the best time to confront their friend is when they are drunk. This won’t work because they may not remember the conversation, and you won’t get their undivided attention. Speaking to them sober ensures that your friend is taking the words you are saying to heart.

5. Accept That They Need to Want Help

This is the hardest part to accept. Sometimes, no matter what you say, no matter how well you put your thoughts together, your friend might not want the help. Unfortunately, you can’t accept help on their behalf. All you can do as a friend is offer your compassion and support while they are battling their addiction. Should they want your help, however, Ripple Ranch is here to provide alcohol rehab.

Treatment at Ripple Ranch

18.2% of Texans partook in excessive drinking in 2021. This is why Ripple Ranch has options for alcohol addiction treatment. Our goal is to save the lives and families of all our patients.

Every patient is different, so we have different methods of treatment for each patient. One of the first portions of treatment is getting rid of all the toxins in one’s body, or detox.

Alcohol Detox

It can be dangerous to detox from alcohol. The sudden change from drinking frequently to not drinking whatsoever can cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Not thinking clearly
  • Nightmares (bad dreams)
  • Mood swings
  • Depression

Because of these symptoms, Ripple Ranch offers medically supervised withdrawal. With supervised withdrawal, we guide our patients through these unpleasant symptoms and use medication to ease the symptoms if necessary. We will address the mental and emotional tolls of detox and withdrawal while providing support through your toughest times. After detox comes the next part of a patient’s treatment plan, which may be residential or intensive outpatient treatment.

Residential Treatment

Also called inpatient treatment, residential treatment is a program where the patient will be staying at the facility 24/7. This way, the patient will be completely immersed in treatment while not having to worry about the natural stressors and triggers of life.

Residential treatment offers 12-step programs and alternatives, holistic therapies such as yoga and tai chi, life-skills training, and individual and group therapy.

Residential treatment programs are typically more expensive but vary in exact cost. We understand that every insurance plan is different and must be reviewed when considering residential treatment or any other form of treatment. Another treatment option that is cheaper is our intensive outpatient program.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

We understand that our patients have lives outside of treatment. Whether you have to provide for the family or you are in school, we understand that you have duties and responsibilities other than treatment. This is why Ripple Ranch offers an intensive outpatient program (IOP).

An IOP is a form of treatment where a patient will attend treatment sessions at the facility but will continue to live at home. IOP offers the same services as residential treatment and can provide you with all the necessary skills you need for a successful recovery. Not only does it give you more time to perform your duties, it is also much more affordable than residential treatment. IOPs are typically the transitional phase from residential treatment as well.

Saving Lives at Ripple Ranch

Ripple Ranch is here to help your friend through alcohol use disorder. Located in Comal County, Texas, near Austin and San Antonio, our mission is to save the lives of those struggling with addiction as well as save their relationships with their loved ones. We offer personalized and innovative solutions for anyone battling addiction.

Call 830-224-2483 to save your life or the life of a friend today.

Contact Us Today to Get Started

Our team is standing by to teach you more about what we offer and help you figure out a care plan that will be most effective for you and your unique situation.


How do you help someone who can’t stop drinking?

It is important to choose the right time to discuss their alcohol use. Talk about your concerns in a calm and caring way using plenty of “I” statements, and make sure they are sober so they remember this conversation. There is a high chance that your friend will get defensive, so be prepared for that reaction, but stay on task. Research treatment options so you’ll have that information when they’re ready to hear it.

What do you say to someone who has a drinking problem?

Some potential things to say are, “I am worried about your drinking patterns,” or, “I feel that your drinking is becoming a problem.” Remember to use several “I” statements instead of “you” statements. “I” statements make sure that the conversation is about how you are feeling about their addiction, whereas “you” statements would be seen as accusatory. Your goal is to help your friend, not hurt them.

How do you motivate someone to stop drinking?

Unfortunately, you can’t make someone stop drinking. The person with AUD needs to want to get help. You can tell them how their alcohol use has been affecting you and show them that you are there for them by offering compassion and support, but it is up to them to accept help.

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