It isn’t just the addict who struggles, as you are no doubt aware if you have found this blog. Addiction crumbles relationships, shatters trusts, and stretches love beyond the breaking point. Addicts and alcoholics struggle, and it can be the support of their friends, family, and loved ones who give them the power and support they need to break through the dark times. If you have a loved one who struggles with alcohol abuse, read on. Here’s how to help an alcoholic to recover, heal, and flourish.
How to Help an Alcoholic
You’ve already made the correct, first step. You’re learning about alcohol use disorder. It is important that you know what alcoholism is and what it isn’t. It isn’t just drinking too much now and again. At times people use alcohol as a mechanism for coping or a social habit, and while those aren’t the healthiest things either, they are not alcoholism. To learn more about what alcoholism is and its related symptoms, visit our other blogs on the subject.
If you are approaching someone to discuss their alcoholism with them for the first time, a little bit of prep will go a long way. This isn’t an intervention, not yet, this is just a carefully crafted conversation to offer them your help. Practice what you are going to say. Let your loved one know that you care for them, that you are available to them. Use supportive and positive statements, not presumptions, accusations, negative or hurtful comments.
No matter how the person reacts, you need to be ready to behave in a calm manner that assures them you are there for them and your support and respect them. That is what they need right now, not an enemy. With your discussion planned out, pick the place for it to happen at. You need a safe, quiet, and private area so that you can really give each other your full attention. Ensure your loved one isn’t dealing with other things at the moment, and most critically, obviously, everyone should be sober.
This is the through line through all other steps, parts, and facets of helping any addict: compassion. You want to help, that’s a compassionate act to ensure your behavior matches that. When you first have the talk with your loved one about their drinking problem, listen to them compassionately, respond with honesty. This may well be an uphill battle. They may respond poorly. Understand it, try and let them have the time (and space) necessary to hear you honestly. Don’t take it personally. Continue to offer your support and always come from a place of love.
What Not to Do
Don’t Blame Yourself and Don’t Take it Personally
Alcoholics drink, whether or not there is a reason. They have become dependent on alcohol and nothing is going to get in the way or steer them away or to that. Whether or not they claim they drink because of you or some other reason. This them trying to defend their disease, but it is just that – a disease.
When they are on the path to recovery, it can be all too easy to break promises or lie. Do not take these issues personally. They are struggling as their brain chemistry attempts to rewrite itself. They are not yet in as much control of their decision making as you are. It hurts, but don’t dwell.
Don’t Try to Control The Situation, Don’t Enable, Don’t Cover
It can be very appealing to try and comfort, care for and cover for your loved one. You want to help them. That can mean anything from covering a bill or getting them out of trouble with the law. The important thing is to know when that is helping and when is it actually harming them. Bailing them out at every turn can shield them from harm, yes, but it also shields them from the real effects of their own actions.
There is much more that can be written about how best to help an alcoholic, what to do and not to do to keep them happy and healthy. One of the strangest things is treatment. If your loved one is struggling with getting sober, take a look at our admissions application and see if help at The River Source is what they need.