3 Ways to Help an Alcoholic

man wanting to overcome being an alcoholic

3 Ways to Help an Alcoholic

By Lakeview Health
Lakeview Health
Published: December 9, 2020

Despite millions of American adults being categorized as having an alcohol use disorder, alcoholism continues to be a disease that our culture downplays. Drinking beer and sipping cocktails is so normalized in our culture — it’s in our advertisements, our movies, our television shows, our music — that it can be incredibly hard for someone to recognize that they truly have a problem. This is why it’s so essential for friends, family members, and coworkers to play a supporting role when they see someone they love and care about struggling with alcoholism, which is defined as someone who has a psychological or physical dependence on alcohol. 

An alcoholic use disorder can be mild, severe, or even life-threatening. Many times, because drinking is so normalized, an alcoholic may be unable to recognize that their dependence is hurting themselves or those in their social circle. As a friend, colleague, or family member to a person struggling with alcoholism, you could make all the difference in helping them recover.

3 Ways of Helping an Alcoholic

Learn about alcohol use disorder and be prepared to provide empathy for the situation. 

Before you can intervene and get someone on the road to recovery, you must first understand where they are coming from. To understand takes education and learning. It is also important to teach yourself the differences between alcohol abuse and intermittent drinking as a coping mechanism. This knowledge will help you determine how to proceed depending upon the root issue the person you care about is having. So start helping an alcoholic by first doing your research. Read more about alcoholism and its symptoms, understand why you are seeing a change in the person’s drinking habits, and research resources like Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous to learn more about alcohol addiction and the experiences of alcoholics. 

Research a path towards recovery. 

If you ascertain that your friend, colleague, or family member does have an alcohol addiction, then, before you intervene, consider researching alcohol rehab and recovery options. Just confronting someone and telling them they have a problem and need help isn’t very encouraging. Instead, you should be prepared to help your loved one or colleague immediately get on the path to recovery. Be ready to open the door. There are many different types of alcohol rehab and treatment programs, and what is right for a person will depend upon several factors. These factors may or may not include:

  • Previous attempts to quit
  • Any co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Any other additional substance use and abuse issues
  • The level of their current alcohol use 
  • The level of physical or psychological dependence they have on alcohol

Don’t just look up the types of resources online; consider actually calling these resources to better understand if their program is right for the situation.

Intervene, listen, and offer support. 

Once you understand the situation and have the resources to help your loved one or colleague get the help they need, the next step is an intervention. Remember to stay calm, empathize, but don’t back down from what you want to say. Depending upon the situation, you might consider having a professional counselor or therapist be with you during the intervention. Do not be discouraged if you are blown off at first, as those struggling with an alcohol use disorder may not be receptive or mentally capable of admitting they have a problem at first. Be patient and accept that it may take a few conversations before they are ready to take that step towards recovery. The best thing you can do is simply prepare yourself, have the treatment resources ready, and offer the support and encouragement they need to follow through.

Learn About Our Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs

There is no one right way towards alcohol recovery as some people will require detox and residential services, and others will require less comprehensive support. To learn more about these options and about the alcohol rehab treatment programs and services we can offer your loved one, contact our team at Lakeview Health by either completing our easy, secure online form or calling 866.704.7692.