Trying to help an alcoholic, especially if they are a friend or a loved one, can be irritating and heartbreaking at the same time. You may feel that you’re doing everything in your power to help them and they aren’t doing anything to help themselves. You may feel like you don’t know how to talk to them about their drinking problem in the first place. No matter what the situation is, dealing with someone suffering from alcohol abuse can be difficult.
What Can You Do to Help an Alcoholic?
Well, first realize that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” You can nag and persuade them to get help all you want, but the person won’t try to get better unless they decide to do it on their own. All you can do is talk to them about it and let them know that you are there for them. Here are some tips:
Understand alcoholism. Understanding is the first step to solving any problem. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction, so you are aware of what the person is experiencing. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Mood swings
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Poor coordination
- High alcohol tolerance
- Self-destructive behaviors
Understanding alcoholism is the first step to help an alcoholic loved one get on the long journey to recovery.
Learn how to talk to an alcoholic. Speak in a calm, polite, nonjudgmental tone. Let the other person know how much you care about them and that you love them. Also, try to figure out why they may have turned to alcohol addiction in the first place. Did they just recently get a divorce? Lose a job? Lose a loved one? You may want to talk about this with the other person so that they have a clear understanding of the cause of their addiction.
Don’t talk to them when they are drinking. Find the right time and place to have a conversation with the person. Make sure that they are never under the influence when you sit down with them; try approaching them in the morning hours in a peaceful setting.
Give the person your support. Let the person know that you will always be there for them. Offer to drive them to doctor’s appointments, sober meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous, or treatment programs. Alcoholism is a hard subject to talk about, but with letting them know that they have your support, it makes the topic a little easier.
Consider addiction treatment options. If you get your loved one to agree that they need help, consider the different treatment options available to them. Try to find a treatment facility that has a holistic approach; meaning that they work to get the person to be healthy mentally and physically. Holistic treatment programs encourage teaching Life Skills so that the alcoholics are better equipped to handle life’s difficult circumstances when they leave. Life Skills education reduces their chances of relapsing.
Per Wickstrom, Founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation
Per Wickstrom, the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation in Michigan, once suffered from substance abuse. In his rehab facility, he tries to get patients to see life in a new way by using this holistic approach. This method helps the alcoholics to reach long-term sobriety.
Remember that you can’t save someone from their drinking problem and that you can’t place the blame on yourself. Trying to do this may lead you to become an enabler; meaning you take responsibility for their addiction, making it more acceptable for them to continue. Encourage them to take responsibility for their actions, but let them know you’ll be there to help them along the way.