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How To Help Someone With Alcohol Abuse

concerned friend clasping the hand of a person who needs to know how to help someone with alcohol abuse

It might be easy for you to see that a loved one’s drinking has become a problem, but the very nature of alcohol often makes it difficult for the person to see just how much alcohol is disrupting their life. Alcohol acts as a buffer, and those who abuse it are typically looking to escape the realities of their day-to-day life. They sometimes do not see the negative impacts caused by alcohol or believe that continuing to drink will make those problems disappear. Continued alcohol use tends to result in the person becoming physically and mentally addicted to alcohol. At this point, the person will likely need alcohol addiction treatment to stop drinking. However, the person drinking may not see it that way.

This can be challenging, especially for someone who cares about the person struggling with alcoholism. It can also be very disheartening to hear that “you can’t help them until they acknowledge they have a drinking problem.” However, there are things you can do to show the person you care for them and support them while keeping yourself from spiraling into their addiction. A step-by-step guide for helping someone with alcohol abuse can help. The following are ways you can support a person who struggles with drinking.

Learn About Alcohol Dependence

One of the ways to help someone with alcohol abuse is to learn about alcohol abuse and addiction. This can help you understand their behavior and stop taking their actions personally. Alcohol addiction is a treatable, chronic disease, complete with symptoms, triggers, and genetic predispositions. A person struggling with alcohol addiction is sick and cannot always make the best decisions for themselves. Resources such as Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as Al-Anon, and the National Institute on Alcohol Use And Alcoholism can provide information.

Carefully Confront The Person

Planning what you want to say before you approach someone struggling with an alcohol abuse problem is a good idea. This will help you stay on task and remain calm. There are several important things to keep in mind when confronting a friend or loved one struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction:

  • Make every effort to hold this conversation when the person has not been drinking and is not emotionally charged. If the person has their defenses up, they may not be willing to hear what you have to say.
  • Do not offer ultimatums or threats, as it is crucial that the person does not feel attacked or threatened. Accusations are also discouraged. What is essential to focus on is how concerned you are and how important they are to you. If they understand you are coming from a place of love and genuine care for their wellbeing, they may be more inclined to listen.
  • Discuss concerns about how their drinking affects their relationship with you and other loved ones or how their alcohol consumption is causing financial or legal troubles in their lives. Make sure they understand that you support them in quitting alcohol, and if they need help finding a treatment program, rehab facility, support group, or 12-step program, you are willing to help.
  • Another reason many people avoid inpatient rehab programs is that they do not have anyone to help them maintain obligations while they focus on their recovery. If this is something you can help with, speak up.
  • You should expect some opposition, especially if the person is in denial or claims they can stop drinking without attending a program. If they insist upon stopping on their own, consider working with them to create a timeline that shows the changes they should be making.

Consider Staging An Intervention

The first attempt to help someone with alcohol abuse isn’t usually effective, even if the person is agreeable to treatment. The next step to consider is an intervention led by a professional therapist. You should plan to meet with the therapist in advance to create a strategy for the intervention. Interventions include friends and family of the person struggling with alcohol addiction. During the meeting, ideas for treatment are discussed as well as consequences if the person continues to drink and refuses to go to treatment. Some suggested consequences of refusing alcohol abuse treatment are:

  • removing financial support
  • asking them to move out
  • separation from partner
  • child visitation removed
  • refusing to clean up their messes

When the person agrees to go to treatment, the consequences are removed, and support should be resumed.

Avoid Codependency

The decision to go to treatment belongs only to the person who needs it; you should not force someone into an alcohol addiction treatment program. After options are presented, support is offered, and consequences are enforced, it is up to them to decide to seek alcohol abuse treatment. Sometimes, people get so consumed with the life of their loved one who is addicted to alcohol that they stop focusing on themselves almost entirely. This behavior is called codependency. Codependency can be devastating to your own mental health. Al-Anon can help you maintain focus on yourself while learning how to support your loved one at the same time.

The Path To Recovery From Alcohol Addiction

Attending alcohol addiction treatment is only part of the recovery process, and the journey into sobriety is not always a smooth transition. Once the alcohol has been removed, painful issues often resurface and need to be addressed. A person in recovery learns new, appropriate coping skills and understands that sobriety is an ongoing process that requires daily commitment.

Swift River offers treatment for alcohol use in Massachusetts with a tri-level continuum of care. Medication-assisted treatment is available, with an Ativan taper for alcohol use to help individuals safely stop drinking. To learn more about treatment options at Swift River, or to better understand a loved one’s alcohol use problem, call 888.451.5895 or contact us online.

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