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Addressing alcohol issues with individuals

Is it a Problem?
Is it a Problem?

Most people who have a drinking problem don't think they do. They tell themselves, "I don't drink before 5:00, I'm not in the gutter, I'm not living in my car, so what's the problem?" But here are indicators of an underlying issue.

  • The person's life is convoluted, and you find yourself wondering, "Why does this situation just not add up?" When I met with a person I was Counseling. His wife's behavior was becoming more eccentric. Nothing seemed to bring stability. So I asked, "How much does she drink?" He replied, "More than I do. It's nothing for her to finish a bottle of wine a night."
  • The person has difficulty following guidance. When you give direction, they accept it, but they can't follow through. A possible indication of an unacknowledged addiction. A man came to me for help; he repeatedly taking advantage of women he dated. He didn't want to; he knew it was wrong. Later in the conversation, I asked him, "You seem anxious. What do you do when you feel that way?" and he said, "I drink a few glasses of wine." In his life, alcohol was moving from enjoyment to medication, and it was contributing to his inability to stay chaste.
  • The member's loved one says, "He doesn't remember things. I'll say, 'Don't you remember we talked about that?' and he doesn't." That may be due to drinking.
  • The person grew up in an alcoholic family. Research shows that alcoholism runs in families. A person with alcoholic parents is at greater risk of developing a problem.

How to bring it up

It's a difficult subject to bring up. I might be wrong, and I don't want to offend. What to do? Here is a suggested way:

Ask about the person's background: "Did your dad or mom, or grandpa or grandma, drink a lot?"

Ask about life routines: how many hours they work, how often they pray, and "How much did you have to drink in the past seven days?" People with a drinking problem will under-report, so follow up with, "Only that much?"

If you've built trust, you might ask, "Have you ever thought there might be a connection between what you're facing and drinking?" The person will probably say, "No" or "I don't see that." At that point, ask, "Have you ever wondered if you're a normal drinker?" A normal drinker never wonders that. If the person has wondered, you can put his mind at rest by challenging him to an experiment for 30 days: to drink no more than one drink per day.

If you feel you can be more direct, ask "Have you ever tried to stop drinking?" Or "If you have a drink, do you stop, or do you want another?" One of the symptoms of alcoholism is what's called "Loss of control, not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun."

How to help

Most people with a drinking problem won't be able to stop on their own. They have a chronic and progressive disease, and they need ongoing counsel and a supportive community—and perhaps medication. They definitely need a physician's care as they go through withdrawal.

The two most well known recovery programs are Alcoholics Anonymous ( and Celebrate Recovery ( Celebrate Recovery takes place in the context of a church, which can be helpful to a Christian in recovery. The downside is that in a church setting, people may not be as brutally honest, which is essential to recovery. AA is the granddaddy of recovery ministries, and they know how to help alcoholics


Christ Church on Greenland road has an excellent and well established Celebrate recovery program that is a faith based program and works at dealing with the underlying issues that lead one to want a reprieve from reality by substance abuse. They also offer codependency study groups and groups from multiple addictions not only drugs and alcohol. If you would like more information you can contact them at and they will assist you in find a celebrate recovery program in the jacksonville area.

There are also Alcoholics Anonymous(AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)groups in the Jacksonville for support and encouragement in you journey either a person suffering from addiction or a person living with someone who is addicted. Both of the programs offer Al Anon for the family members of a person suffering from addiction.

We're only human. We can err from time to time. It's important we handle our mistakes properly if we're to enjoy long, happy, healthy lives.

You can follow Michael at www.dailysignofhope,com where he blogs on Mon,Wed,Fri and connect with him on facebook and Networked Blogs


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