Helping someone with an alcohol problem may sound good on paper, but it’s not exactly easy to do. Most of the time, alcoholics will deny that they have a problem. It’s common to hear: “I can quit whenever I want.” Or, “Everyone does it. I’m just having fun.”
Even though you may not be able to force someone to stop drinking, ignoring it is not the right thing to do. There are ways you can support a person with an alcohol problem, and we’ll show you how.
Get Educated on Alcoholism
The first thing to do is research alcoholism. What are the signs? How is alcoholism different from alcohol abuse? Why might your friend or family member be at risk?
Understanding addiction is important for a couple of reasons. First, you must know what you are dealing with. It’s possible that the problem is more out of hand than you realize. The consequences that may be close to following need to be understood. Second, education leads to compassion. Rather than making things worse by blaming or shaming, you can practice true tough love.
Realize Your Role in the Process
The next step is to acknowledge your role in this process. You cannot stop someone from drinking. You cannot save them from their addiction. What you can do is help. No two situations are the same, so it’s best to work with a counselor or addiction specialist to determine the right approach.
You may have to financially cut off a loved one or stop enabling them by making excuses for missed work and family obligations. We realize this is one of the most difficult things to do, but without consequences, problem drinkers will not see the full extent of their problem.
Offer to Attend Support Meetings
Whether your loved one agrees to attend a support group now or after treatment, offer to go with them. This way, they will feel less afraid and alone. Listening to the experiences of others can help you gain a new perspective on dealing with addiction. Also, check out Al Anon meetings in your area. These support groups are for the friends and family of alcoholics.
Research Treatment Options
In many cases, problem drinkers need structured treatment in an inpatient or outpatient facility. An addiction specialist can help determine the right course of treatment, but it’s important to do some research as well. Detox, inpatient/outpatient treatment, counseling and support groups are all part of a healthy and complete recovery. Know what options are available, and where to find additional support in your community.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that will get worse. Turning the other cheek may only lead to more serious consequences later on. If you are worried about someone you love, call The River Source to learn about our programs and the best ways to start the healing process.