How Can You Help an Alcoholic?
Being the loved one of an alcoholic can be devastating, but how do you actually know when a member of your family or friend is suffering from an alcohol problem? Or better yet, how do you even help an alcoholic when you know they’re struggling?
Noticing the Signs of Alcoholism
It isn’t always easy to notice when someone is suffering from alcoholism. After all, alcoholism is a complicated disease. It’s a medical condition, but you can’t necessarily tell that someone is an alcoholic just by looking at them. So you can’t determine whether or not someone is struggling with alcoholism just based on their appearance alone.
It’s important to take a look at a number of factors, such as whether or not your loved one has been spending an unusual amount of money on alcohol, going out drinking more than usual, hiding bottles of beer and alcohol in the home, driving under the influence, lacking with proper hygiene, being secretive or not disclosing whereabouts, and/or dealing with legal issues as a result of their drinking.
If you notice these behaviors in a loved one, then it is possible that they may be an alcoholic. So when do you intervene and what steps do you take to help them?
How to Help an Alcoholic
You may feel out of line speaking to someone about your concerns over their drinking, but the reality is that you shouldn’t. As long as you are coming from a place of concern, you voicing your opinion is completely fine and necessary. If you’re feeling hesitant, consider what might happen if you don’t say something.
Discussing your concerns about someone’s drinking is not the same as accusing someone of being an alcoholic. The way you proceed is critical because you do not want to push them away from the treatment they may truly need to recover.
Be sure to remain calm and voice how you are genuinely worried about their drinking habits. Don’t minimize the situation, but don’t make them feel attacked either.
Dealing with a Person in Denial of Alcoholism
Regardless of how you end up approaching them about your concern over their drinking behaviors, the reality is they may not agree that they have a problem. This is denial. It’s not unusual for alcoholics to deny their addiction at first. They may come to a point where they see their drinking behavior for what it is: a disease.
Don’t be upset if they become defensive and unwilling to admit to having a problem with alcohol. You voicing your concerns could be what they need to hear before coming to the realization that their drinking is no longer, or perhaps never was, manageable.
Addressing the Issue
Let them know that you want to support them and are truly just concerned about their behaviors. Don’t approach the conversation in a way that highlights their faults. Instead, be honest and let them know you are willing to do whatever you can to help them.
You can offer to help them get into a treatment center or look up some local resources, like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Either of these could be a start to their recovery, but the reality is that alcohol is a drug and when you drink regularly, you are likely to suffer from physical and emotional withdrawals when you stop drinking. This is why receiving inpatient care for a medical detoxification and rehabilitation treatment is recommended.
If you find that voicing your concerns did little to nothing, then you may want to hold a proper intervention. Reach out to other family members or close friends that can back you up with additional concerns over their drinking.
Holding an intervention can sound scary and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. It is important to remain calm during this as well, and you may find that you have a better outcome with a trained professional present too, like a counselor or addiction specialist.
Dealing with the Outcome
Your loved one may or may not respond to your concerns or intervention about their drinking. That’s why it is important for you to know how to properly deal with the outcome in the meantime.
Remember that it is not your fault. Alcoholism is a disease and it impacts the way an alcoholic thinks and acts. They may have responded to your concerns in anger or they may have laughed off the entire situation. It is not on you, and your loved one may come around, especially when you continue to voice your concerns as best as you can.
In the meantime, educate yourself as much as you can on the disease of alcoholism and continue to look for ways to help get through to your loved one.
There are a number of support groups, like Al-Anon, which are designed for the loved ones of alcoholics. Reach out to others for support if you find that you are struggling and unsure of how to cope with your loved one’s alcoholism.
Do not enable your loved one. Enabling is defined as providing an opportunity for someone to do something they shouldn’t be doing. This means you shouldn’t be spending money on their drinks or encouraging their drinking habit in any way and you shouldn’t be covering for them when they get in trouble for something caused by their alcoholic behavior.
Know Where to Get Help
The Watershed Addiction Treatment Programs offers comprehensive addiction treatment, beginning with a medical detoxification and inpatient rehabilitation. If you suspect your loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, you can contact The Watershed for help and support any time. We can help you and your loved one begin the process of recovering. We understand addiction as a family disease and are here to help in any way we can.
Call The Watershed today at 1-800-861-1768.Tags: alcohol treatment, alcoholic, Alcoholism, family, treatment for alcoholism