How to Help an “Alcoholic”

“How can I help my loved one who is an alcoholic?” is a question you may be struggling with. You’ve watched them time and again suffer from alcohol use disorder, which can be one of the most heartbreaking things to go through. Chances are, you have seen the consequences of their actions because of alcohol use disorder, such as broken relationships, financial hardships and declining health. It is easy to feel helpless when you’re up against alcohol use disorder, but luckily, there are many things you can do to help. If you’re ready to help your loved one, keep reading to learn more about how to help an “alcoholic” before it is too late.

How to Help an “Alcoholic:” Learn More About Alcohol Use Disorder

One of the most important things you can do is learn more about alcohol use disorder. The more you are able to learn about the condition, the more you are able to understand their actions and patterns.

Some important things to remember are:

  • Individuals living with alcohol use disorder act out in ways they normally wouldn’t. If your loved one has become aggressive, defiant or even abusive, it is important to remember that, while alcohol is never an excuse, their condition is typically the culprit for such negative actions.
  • Alcohol use disorder chemically rewires the brain. This means that their dependency on alcohol is much deeper, making it difficult to “just quit.”
  • Alcohol use disorder is a medical diagnosis characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake and a negative emotional state when not using.

Offer Support

While figuring out how to help an “alcoholic” in a desperate situation, the most important thing to keep at the forefront is compassion and support. Support is one of the most important tools in alcohol treatment and recovery.

Some ways you can offer support include:

  • Being a non-judgemental ear for them to speak to
  • Showing sincerity and empathy to what they are going through
  • Participating in their treatment by taking them to the facility, talking to them as often as possible while in recovery and being involved in their aftercare plans

Intervene If Necessary

It can be difficult to offer help to a loved one who doesn’t think they need it yet or doesn’t think that they have a problem with alcohol. Interventions are much more involved and serious than having an open discussion and offering support. They involve creating hard boundaries, forming consequences and offering treatment on a tight deadline—usually on the same day.

If the situation has gotten to the point of intervention, here are some tips:

  • Find a professional interventionist or counselor to help lead the discussion.
  • Gather other loved ones who will be able to share their feelings in a compassionate way.
  • Be ready to stick to your boundaries and consequences, should your loved one decide to turn down treatment.

How to Help an “Alcoholic:” What Not to Do

While there are many things you can do to help an “alcoholic”, keep in mind things that you should not do:

  • Stop enabling. If you find yourself giving your loved one money, a place to live, making excuses for their drinking or defending them against other people who have a concern—you are an enabler. It is hard to face but important that your loved one has negative consequences as a result of their drinking in order to get help.
  • Don’t blame yourself. As a way to manipulate those around them, individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder can blame others for their drinking. Just remember that this is manipulation in order to shift blame, a key hallmark of alcohol use disorder.
  • Stop covering their tracks. Protecting your loved one from other people in their lives who have concern will only feed into the denial they experience.
  • Don’t live in the past. If your loved one has done something unforgivable while in the throes of their addiction, it is important to let this go if you want to move on.
  • Don’t give up. Your loved one can take many trips to treatment before it finally clicks. Relapse is a common part of the disease of alcoholism. The trick is to not give up on your loved one, and offer your support and love instead.

If you’re ready to get help for your loved one, we are here for you. Our admissions team is available 24 hours a day to help guide you through the process and give you any advice you may need.

About Cliffside Malibu

Because no two addictions are the same, we develop individualized treatment plans for every patient at Cliffside Malibu. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a Stages of Change approach. We offer various levels of care, including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Our program includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.