Alcoholism & Your Loved One
It can be difficult to know how to help a loved one who is struggling with an alcohol use disorder. Your loved one may not want your help or even admit they have a problem with drinking. Knowing how and when to help will put your mind at ease and give you a better chance of motivating your loved one toward the path to sobriety.
Top Ways to Help Someone with an Alcohol Problem
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines alcohol use disorder as a “a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” NIAAA considers heavy alcohol use as consuming more than four drinks a day for men and three drinks a day for women. If your loved one is drinking excessively and has problems both in their personal, professional, or social lives, it may be time to seek help for their addiction.
Standing by and watching a loved one struggle with an alcohol use disorder can be difficult. Their alcoholism not only may affect their personal and professional relationships, but it may also be taking a toll on their health. Their inability to control their drinking hurts them and everyone around them.
If your loved one needs help to get or stay sober, there are several ways you can help. Consider the following:
- Do not encourage their behavior. If you act as if your loved one does not have a drinking problem, they will continue the behavior. Instead, separate yourself from their behavior. Don’t go out for drinks with them or attend social events where they will be drinking.
- Set specific boundaries. You can set boundaries to help your loved one understand that their behavior is no longer acceptable and you will not be a part of it. You may have to set a specific boundary, such as no longer allowing the person in your home if they continue with their drinking.
- Be understanding and remain calm. Do not engage in arguments that could become physical or out of control. When someone is drinking excessively, they may not realize what they are saying or doing. If you remain calm and try to understand the situation, you can help them more than by trying to argue.
- Educate yourself. You can support your loved one by finding out as much as you can about resources in your area, reading books on addiction, or attending a family support group meeting such as Al-Anon. The more you educate yourself, the more you can help.
- Plan an intervention. If your loved one is not open to help for their addiction, you may need to plan an intervention. The intervention can include friends and family as well as anyone who has been directly impacted by their substance use. During the intervention, you can tell your loved one how their addiction has affected you. You may also enlist the help of a professional who can lead the intervention.
- Offer help while they are in treatment. If your loved one is in treatment for their alcohol addiction, offer to help them with tasks they may not be able to do while in a program. This can include helping around the house, at work, or with their children.
- Attend meetings. To help with recovery, offer to attend a 12-step meeting with them. This can show your support in their long-term recovery and allow you to be involved with this new way of life.
What Not to Do
The following tips on Healthline are suggestions on what not to do around someone who is trying to get or stay sober. These include:
- Do not drink around your loved one or with them.
- Do not give them financial support if the money will be used for alcohol.
- Do not give your opinion on what they should be doing or what you feel is best for them.
In addition, do not cover up for them or help them justify their alcohol abuse. You do not want to make excuses for their behavior. This only makes it easier for them to continue their addiction. Let them be responsible for their own actions and consequences.
Finding Help for Those in Need
If your loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, the team at Twin Lakes Recovery Center is here to help, 24/7. We have board-certified medical professionals on staff to help with your loved one’s addiction. We can also provide help for the entire family through our family recovery program. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs in addition to detox and treatment programs.