Anne M. Fletcher investigated how best to help someone who drinks too much alcohol. She did so very logically. She first found hundreds of people who had successfully dealt with their drinking problems. Then she asked each successful person how others had helped them achieve their goal. For some, the goal was to reduce their drinking to moderate levels. For others, it was to stop drinking.
The results are summarized in the following nine recommendations.
- Don’t make it easy for the drinker to keep on drinking.
- Continue to love the problem drinker.
- Don’t nag, criticize, preach, or complain.
- Address the drinking problem directly.
- Seek help.
- Detach, separate, walk away.
- Set a good example.
- Take care of yourself.
- Be there when the person is ready.
These are included in her book Sober for Good: New Solutions for Drinking Problems — Advice from Those who Have Succeeded. To learn more about each of these recommendations, see her chapter titled ‘You Can Help.’
One of the five major myths that Anne Fletcher dispels is that there’s nothing that others can do to help a person with an alcohol problem until they “hit bottom.” In reality, we can help someone who drinks too much by meeting them at their level of readiness.
It may be possible to help now by suggesting that the person consider outside help. Free or inexpensive options include HAMS (Harm reduction, Abstinence, and Moderation Support), LifeRing Recovery, Women for Sobriety, Moderation Management, Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training), SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) and the Life Process Program. These are much less threatening choices than AA.
If the person isn’t ready to work with any of these groups, they may be open to doing some self-help reading. A list is found at Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism: Self-Help Information.
It’s simply not necessary for people to “hit bottom” before they can be helped. That’s an old myth that has been disproven long ago.
Resources on How to Help Someone Who Drinks Too Much
Find more resources at Alcohol Help.
Brodsky, A., and Peele, S. AA’s Tactics are Harmful. In: Wekesser, C. (Ed.). Alcoholism. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1994. Pp. 93-103.
Brown, D. Medication May Help Alcoholics Stay Sober. In: Barbour, S. (Ed.). Alcohol. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1998. Pp. 144-148.
Bufe, C. Studies Show Alcoholics Anonymous Is Ineffective. In: Wekesser, C. (Ed.). Alcoholism. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1994. Pp. 72-81.
Burman, S. All-Women Groups Can Help Female Alcoholics. In: Wekesser, C. (Ed.). Alcoholism. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1994. Pp. 220-229.
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