Somebody close to me drinks too much

Does he or she really drink too much or am I worried about nothing?

There are a few things about a drinking problem that you should understand.

It doesn’t matter what the person says, you are not the cause of the drinking. If you were not there, he or she would have found another reason to drink.

Do not believe that the person will drink less once you are married, engaged, living together or any other reason. Once you are married, engaged or have children, it will even be more difficult for you to do something about the situation.

Threats, tears and promises from your side, will not stop the drinking. The person may feel guilty for a short while, but this gives him or her an excellent reason to drink again!

Does it help to destroy or hide the persons’ alcohol supply? Of course not. The person will only buy more alcohol with money that is already scarce!

If you want the situation to change, you have to find help. Ask help from your pastor, doctor or a social worker at the nearest SANCA (WC) branch. If you wait for the person to find help, you will wait a very long time!

What can I do?

Make an appointment with a social worker at your nearest SANCA (WC) branch or at the Department of Social Development or Badisa. It is very difficult to do something about this issue on your own. The social worker will help you make a plan that will suit your situation best.

If you are continuously assaulted or degraded, you can get an interdict at the local magistrate’s office to stop it. If you are in possession of such a document and the person harasses you or your children again, the person can be arrested by the Police and kept in custody for some time.

If it is at all possible, consider moving in with your friends or family, until the person does something constructive about his or her drinking. Alcohol abusers soon find out that there is always someone around to fix the problems created by their drinking. As long as other people fix the drinker’s problems, he or she will never learn to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Join an organisation such as Al-Anon or CAD. These groups consist of people like yourself who have struggled with the same problem of having a loved one addicted to alcohol. They will be able to support you and you will not feel alone anymore.

It is time for you to decide what you are going to do – if you do nothing, why would the drinker want to change?

What kind of treatment is available?

With your help the social worker will first assess how far the drinking problem has progressed.

How much will the treatment cost? We don’t have a lot of money! The social worker will establish this for you. Most organisations do charge a fee, but what the person pays, depends on his or her income. The Dept Of Social Development offers limited free treatment services and at SANCA (WC) they strive to assist those who really do not have the funds. In many instances where the person asks for help out of his own, the employer is willing to help the employee with the costs.

If the social worker is of the opinion that the person needs out-patient treatment, she will arrange it with an organisation such as SANCA (WC). This kind of treatment will mean that the person will have to attend group sessions which will help him/her to stay sober.

The person will receive medical care, proper nutrition and will attend sessions to help him/her to live without alcohol.

After release from the facility, the person should attend groups at places such as Alcoholics Anonymous or CAD (Christian Action for Dependence). This is extremely important because without this, most drinkers will soon fall back into their old routine of drinking again.

If it is your life partner that is receiving the treatment, it is as important that you join the groups as it is for your partner.

Where do I get help?

  • SANCA(WC) Bellville
    021 945 4080
    021 957 7130
  • Christian Action for Dependence
    021 930 4472
    Speak to your pastor.
  • Department of Social Development
    0800 220 250
  • South African Police Services
    0860 010 111
  • City of Cape Town
    0800 435 748

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:1 and 16).

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25).

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