• If you are concerned about someone's drinking, be there for them – talk to them, listen and support them in getting professional help

You may find yourself concerned about the way a friend, your partner or another member of your family is behaving around alcohol. You may be the first to notice a problem and the first to try to help.

Talk about alcohol with your children

Parents are one of the most important influences on their children's behaviour around alcohol. Nonetheless, some mothers may feel powerless, particularly if their children are influenced by others who drink to excess or before the law allows. Research shows that parents have a great deal of power to guide their children to say 'no' to alcohol if underage, or to drink sensibly and safely once they are of legal age.

Underage drinking

Most countries around the world have strict laws about the minimum age for purchasing and/or consuming alcohol. These laws are established for good reasons and should be taken very seriously.

People who are under the legal drinking age should not drink alcohol. Your children should be knowledgeable about these laws and aware of the consequences if they are not followed. When parents inform their children and set boundaries, children are more apt to follow the rules.

Friends and family

You may develop concerns about the behaviour of other adults around alcohol. Your friends, partner or adult members of your family may start to drink in a way that you feel is harmful to themselves or to those around them. A quiet word and a show of concern can help start a dialogue and steer them onto a helpful path. Don't wait for others to notice and do something. Other people may not be as observant as you are. They may even incorrectly view a friend's drinking as a sign they are coping well under pressure or stress – still 'getting out and enjoying themselves'.

If you are concerned about someone's drinking:

  • Talk to them about your concerns when they are sober
  • Listen to them and find out why they feel drinking is helping
  • If the person is enduring a period of stress (e.g. bereavement, divorce, job loss) make extra time for them – loneliness is a common reason for drinking too much
  • Spend time with the person somewhere where alcohol is not available – go to a day spa, for a walk or to a gallery or movie
  • Point out problems their drinking is causing – if it is affecting their relationships, work, or role as a parent, for example
  • Become knowledgeable about where your friend or family member can go for counselling or professional help and provide them with contact information – and go with them if they feel they need your support

Be observant – the well-being of your children, family or your friends may depend on it. Being a good role model for your children is a parental gift you can give them. And find out where your friends and family can go for help if they need assistance.