For many of us, drinking alcohol is part and parcel of socialising with friends or relaxing after work, meaning we often forget it’s a potentially debilitating drug.
“Whilst drinking can sometimes bring us pleasure, if we’re honest with ourselves, alcohol seems to play a much more central role in our lives than many of us feel comfortable with,” Mark Leyshon, senior policy officer at Alcohol Concern tells HuffPost UK.
“It’s heavily advertised and widely available – in bars, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, corner shops and petrol stations – and has become increasingly affordable. Sometimes it feels easier to accept the offer of a drink than to say ‘no’, and it’s all too easy to slip into bad habits.”
This ingrained social acceptability can make it difficult for some to recognise when their alcohol consumption is becoming dangerous, but it can also create problems for their loved ones.
If you think your friend or family member is drinking too much, how do you approach the issue without being told you’re overreacting?
With the theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week being “alcohol and families”, we found out the best ways to tackle the issue.
According to Leyshon, if you’re unsure whether a loved one is abusing alcohol or just having a good time, your first action should be to look at their behaviour and see if you recognise a few key signs of dependency.
“These include starting to drink earlier in the day and appearing noticeably stressed or anxious when a few hours have passed since their last drink,” he says.
“The effects of their drinking might also become noticeable, for example, increased hangovers, missing agreed appointments and frequently becoming short-tempered.”
Amy* highlights that your loved one may not fit the stereotype of an alcoholic. Her sister, Carys, died at the age of 28 due to the irreparable damage alcohol had caused to her body.
“My sister was a 21-year- old university graduate when she first became ill,” she says.
“For seven years we battled as a family to get Carys the help she needed to beat her addiction. Many people, including medical professionals, found it difficult to accept that Carys was an alcoholic and often assumed that we were exaggerating the extent of her addiction.
“Carys didn’t look like an alcoholic. She was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman in her early twenties. She had a degree, she had a home and she had a loving and supportive family – she didn’t fit the bill.”
With that in mind, the most important thing when considering whether a loved one is abusing alcohol or not may be to forget any preconceived ideas you have about alcohol dependency. If you recognise a concerning change their behaviour, you are justified in addressing it.
This was originally published by Huffington Post.