Advice For Family & Friends


It is difficult coping with a loved one’s dependency. There is often a temptation to deny them any alcohol at all.

Although you may believe you are helping, there is a possibility that this may be harmful for your loved one, causing them to go into withdrawal. Never confiscate alcohol from someone dependent on it. For people who are alcohol dependent alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Never reduce your daily intake of alcohol without advice.

It’s understood that every year people die from alcohol related conditions such as liver disease. What’s less known is the danger of death from alcohol withdrawal that isn’t properly managed. In many cases this is the result of a seizure – a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. Suddenly stopping drinking can not only be fatal, but you could experience uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms such as:

  • Tremors
  • Sweats
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Involuntary muscle contractions
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Fever
  • Itchy skin
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Agitation
  • Changes or reduction in mobility

Many of our services offer support for concerned others. From online meetings or a relaxed coffee, to more intensive training programmes. We tailor support to meet your needs.

We can introduce you to other families going through similar experiences while supporting loved ones. A good support network can make you feel stronger and less alone.

If you want to widen your network we can signpost you to additional support groups, such as Al-Anon and Smart Friends and Family.


If you have regular withdrawal symptoms, you will almost certainly need medical supervision to help you reduce your drinking, and avoid the dangers of having a fit.

Severe withdrawal symptoms can take up to a year to fully recover from, but most people feel better within 3-7 days of stopping drinking. The first 48 hours are likely to be the worst.

To relieve your symptoms once you’ve stopped drinking:

  • Stay hydrated, but avoid caffeine
  • Eat regularly
  • Your GP or service may prescribe medication to help relieve your symptoms

Insomnia caused by stopping drinking can be challenging, resulting in the urge to drink alcohol to drift off to sleep.

If you experience this, remember your sleep patterns will almost certainly start to return to normal with time.

If you continue to drink excessively despite experiencing withdrawal symptoms, your symptoms are likely to become more and more severe. This process is known as the ‘kindling effect’.

We recommend you take action to reduce the amount you drink safely, to prevent your symptoms becoming worse.

"I used to get up at 4am, and if I didn't have a drink then I would be shaking. I didn't want people to see the person I had become. The pressure you put on your family, it's a nightmare. I'm so glad to be in recovery now."

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