Where can you find help and advice?

Photo of a support group
PantherMedia / photographee.eu

People who are worried about how much alcohol they drink can find online support programs and contact a counseling center anonymously and free of charge. Various umbrella associations’ websites provide search machines to help you find local counseling centers. Such centers often also offer telephone or online counseling.

Lots of people with alcohol problems feel embarrassed or blame themselves. Alcohol problems are very common, though, and have nothing to do with guilt or personal weakness. Managing to admit that you have an alcohol problem and to seek help shows courage and responsibility. Many people later wish they had accepted help earlier.

Changing your own drinking habits takes motivation and dedication. Free-of-charge, online support programs might be a good first step. There are also a lot of counseling centers in Germany which offer support. They can also help you to find out whether you have an alcohol problem, because it's not always easy to work that out yourself. A counseling session might show you that a few simple changes could help you take control of your problems. Professional help is particularly recommended for people who are already dependent on alcohol.

It often takes a lot of effort to talk about your own alcohol consumption. It might help to know that the support offered in Germany is anonymous and free-of-charge. Nobody has to provide their name or any other personal details.

Counseling is offered in many towns and cities, as well as online, by telephone or through support programs. People who would like personal counseling but are worried about being recognized on the way to a counseling center can also visit a counseling center elsewhere. Other people find it easier to explain their problems on the phone and find support that way.

How do you find a counseling center?

Addiction counseling centers are a good first point of contact for people looking to change their drinking habits. They help to assess how serious the alcohol problem is and to find suitable treatment options, if needed. These centers arrange and help people prepare for withdrawal treatments, and they offer outpatient follow-up treatments. They also help to find support groups. Some counseling centers offer their own outpatient withdrawal therapies or accompany them with group meetings.

In Germany you can find municipal and church addiction counseling centers, as well as counseling centers run by hospitals or healthcare authorities. The following websites can help you to find a local counseling center in Germany:

What can you expect from a support group?

In support groups you can meet people who have overcome their alcohol problems or are currently working on it. You can share tips and experiences with them and discuss topics that you find it difficult to talk to other people about. Other people who are going through the same thing understand the challenges of not drinking alcohol and the ups and downs that come with it. That can be a huge relief and provide a lot of support. Many people also develop a sense of solidarity in a support group that motivates them to keep on the ball.

You can find local self-help groups via the following websites:

You can find further general information about self-help here.

Who else can you turn to?

The family doctor is also a good first point of contact for people who are tackling their drinking habits, especially if you have a trusting relationship with your family doctor. If it's needed, they can also arrange for further assistance, for example by referring patients to a medical or psychological psychotherapist.

Other services that you can contact are telephone hotlines, health authorities, and company-based doctors or addiction support services. Like all doctors, company-based doctors and addiction counselors are bound by patient-doctor confidentiality.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Wissenschaftlichen Medizinischen Fachgesellschaften (AWMF), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Suchtforschung und Suchttherapie (DG-Sucht). S3-Leitlinie: Screening, Diagnose und Behandlung alkoholbezogener Störungen. AWMF-Registernr.: 076-001. 2020.

IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. informedhealth.org can provide support for talks with doctors and other medical professionals, but cannot replace them. We do not offer individual consultations.

Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

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Please note that we do not provide individual advice on matters of health. You can read about where to find help and support in Germany in our information “How can I find self-help groups and information centers?

Created on November 25, 2021
Next planned update: 2024

Authors/Publishers:

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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