Dealing with alcoholics can be tricky. Alcoholism is a terrible disease that wreaks havoc on the alcoholic, and, sadly, it can wreak havoc on family and friends as well.
If someone you love is an alcoholic, you likely can think of nothing you would not give to free that person of their addiction. You may have tried several ways to offer help and support to your loved one, all without success. You may be wondering what you can do to truly help.
Here are some important things to remember when dealing with a loved one with an alcohol addiction:
1) Knowledge is power
The more you know about the nature of addiction, the more you will be able to provide help and support to an addict. There are some very important things you know already. You know that you want to help your loved one fight alcoholism and get on the road to recovery. You know that such a step will be in the best interest of the alcoholic and all his or her family and friends. These two pieces of information are a great start.
But there is much more to learn. The “Alcohol Rehab Guide” mentions several other things you should know, including:
- what alcoholism is and how many people are affected by it
- causes and risk factors for alcoholism
- risk factors associated with alcohol withdrawal
- warning signs of alcohol abuse
- short- and long-term effects of alcoholism
- forms of treatment that are available
Armed with this knowledge, you can help your loved one fight the disease of alcohol addiction.
2) Maintain open, honest communication
Living or dealing regularly with an alcoholic is disheartening and, sometimes, frightening. Emotions can run high for everyone involved. Choose a time when things are relatively quiet and the alcoholic is not under the influence of alcohol, and calmly and clearly express your concerns. It will be difficult, but you can do it if you keep in mind that you are showing love by helping your loved one confront their problem.
Be prepared to get resistance in the form of excuses, denial, or anger. It is a very difficult thing for an alcoholic to admit that he or she has a problem. Honesty and compassion on your part may ease the situation. Your goal is to help the alcoholic understand that a problem exists, and that steps must be taken to address it.
If you need help to know how to begin the conversation, there are a variety of support resources available that can help. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon have a lot of information. Additionally, you can reach out to a professional therapist or social worker who may be able to provide you with some advice.
3) Understand that, in most cases, treatment and ongoing support are necessary
The problem of alcoholism cannot be solved by one conversation. Indicate to your loved one your intention to help him or her find the right treatment options, and follow through to get the alcoholic on the road to recovery.
If the alcoholic refuses to seek help or the situation escalates into something more serious, seek the services of an intervention specialist. Unlike what happens in the movies, the “Alcohol Rehab Guide” describes an actual intervention as:
“a professionally directed group meeting between an alcoholic and his/her loved ones to talk about how the effects of alcohol abuse has affected their lives – almost always organized by a parent, spouse, child or other loved one. Interventions can involve spouses or partners, parents, siblings, co-workers, friends, employers or other important people in the alcoholic’s life.
The goal is to be as honest as possible about the alcoholic’s effect on the various persons attending the intervention so that the walls of denial can begin to crack and dissolve. It is only when this happens that the alcoholic can see what effect their behavior has on others so that they can make an informed decision to attend treatment.“
4) Travel together down the road to recovery
After the alcoholic has consented to treatment, remember that the road to recovery is rarely a straight one. Setbacks are to be expected, but you can continue to show support for the treatment plan. NCADD’s “Helping a Family Member or Friend” offers this bit of wisdom:
“Once your friend or family member is receiving treatment, or going to meetings, remain involved. While maintaining your own commitment to getting help for yourself, continue to support their participation in ongoing care, meetings and recovery support groups. Continue to show that you are concerned about their successful long-term recovery.”
Help is Available Right Now
Harris House is a top-rated non-profit alcohol and addiction treatment center. Our professional staff is available to assist clients and their families with treatment and support through every step of the recovery process. To talk with someone about your particular situation, please contact us today and begin the journey toward healing.