Advice for partners & families

If a loved one has an alcohol problem, you'll know it can make your life hell: you can end up feeling hopeless, miserable, angry, frustrated and disappointed.

If you've read through the main part of this guide, you'll realise that you can't make someone do something that they don't want to do. They have to want to stop, and must be ready to stop. They'll have to take responsibility for their own drinking, and for the consequences of their own drinking. You can't make these things happen. However, there are some basic principles you can use to try to make life easier, and to try to push things along.

Don't enable the drinker to drink. Don't buy it for them. Don't make excuses for them, or protect them from the consequences of their drinking. They won't start to take responsibility if they're sheltered from the harsh winds of drinking. If they're going to drink, make sure they get it themselves and pay for it themselves.

State your concerns and your points of view clearly, but don't engage in conflict about it. Don't get into arguments. They're pointless, and they won't work.

Secondly, put down boundaries about what things aren't OK for you. Make very clear what these things are. Make the consequences of crossing these boundaries clear. Make sure that you do anything that you say you're going to do if these boundaries are crossed.

It might help to think about how you'd treat a toddler, a teenager, or a dog if they were misbehaving.

If they say they'll get help, be aware that it might just be to fob you off. If this is the case they might sabotage treatment somewhere along the line - because they never got an appointment letter, the person they saw was an idiot, they're not going to a bloody meeting...

It would be great, though, if you could offer your support during treatment. You could start by researching the options available to you in your area - but get the drinker to make contact themselves.

Further Help

If you want specialist support, you can contact: Al-Anon (AA for families & friends) - 020 7403 0888 (10am - 10pm) Adfam (for friends and families affected by drugs & alcohol -