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How to Help an Alcoholic

Tell a person they have an alcohol problem, and they immediately check into a rehab center. Wouldn’t it be great if that was how to help an alcoholic? Unfortunately, it is never that easy. Many times, especially with functioning alcoholics, there is a wall of denial you need to get through to make them see there is a problem. In other situations, you may think you are helping, but you are allowing the alcoholic to continue as is. Experts call this behavior enabling. We are here today to help you learn how to help an alcoholic, and how to know when you need to stop doing certain things.


The first step of how to help an alcoholic is to learn all you can learn about alcoholism. Knowing what you are up against can help you approach the situation with knowledge. It also enables you to understand that this is not going to be comfortable, and you are not to blame if things don’t go as planned in the beginning. Once you have made up your mind to try:

  • Set up a time and date to make your plea.
  • Gather friends and family that can help support your loved one.
  • Plan what you will say in advance.
  • Be willing to let your loved one state their viewpoint.
  • Set up boundaries and let your loved one know what they face if they don’t get help.
  • Offer your support throughout the treatment process. Let your loved one know this is not an attack but an act of love trying to save them.

Be Supportive

When learning how to help an alcoholic, the best thing you can offer once they have admitted their problem and sought help is your support throughout the entire process. This support can take many forms, depending on the needs of the person. Assistance can include, but is not limited to:

  • Offer to help find a rehab center
  • Attend meetings if requested
  • Attend counseling
  • Offer transportation
  • Be available for talking if a situation gets tempting
  • Keep your home alcohol free
  • Consider offering alternatives for outings that are alcohol-free
  • Ask what the individual needs for you to do. They often know best what will be supportive of them.

Stop Doing This

Part of learning how to help an alcoholic is learning what not to do, or what is not helping. Many times we do things out of love that we think are helping but can enable the person. Ask yourself if you are doing any of the following and then make an effort to stop.

1. Covering it up. Have you found yourself making excuses for things like why your loved one needs to miss work? Don’t cover. If he’s drunk, either refuse to call in or be honest when you do. It isn’t your responsibility to lie for the person. If she is too drunk to drive, don’t tell her family she “fell asleep and won’t be home until morning.” Be honest with them.

2. Tolerating abusive behavior. Many people will get mean and abusive and then apologize when they are sober. They blame being drunk. Do NOT accept this as an excuse. You and your other family members need to be safe, and if a person’s drinking puts anyone in a precarious position, leave immediately.

4. Stepping in to “fix” a crisis. Let natural consequences happen. They get pulled over for drunk driving, let them go to jail. They pass out on the lawn, let them sleep it off out there. It can be hard watching a loved one face a situation you might be able to “fix,” but they won’t learn from the experience if you keep stepping in. Sometimes love means letting it happen.


Alcoholism is a disease that can destroy lives and tear apart families. Therefore, you need to know how to help an alcoholic get through this disease. That’s why we have created this simple guide. You will learn about the symptoms of alcoholism, how you can help your loved one accept help, and the rehab options that may work for their needs.


Alcohol is a confusing substance because so many people drink regularly. As a result, it can be hard to know if a person has alcoholism or if they are a social drinker. Therefore, you must know the symptoms of this disease before you learn how to help an alcoholic. Ask yourself the questions below to get an insight into this problematic situation:

  • Has your loved one drunk more than they intended during a drinking period?
  • Have they tried to quit in the past but always fall back into drinking?
  • Do withdrawal symptoms develop if they try to stop?
  • Are legal and financial troubles hounding your loved one?
  • Have they expressed anxiety about their drinking yet continue to drink?
  • Are they losing support from friends and family members due to drinking?
  • Do they get angry or upset when you suggest rehab?

All of these symptoms indicate a real problem with alcohol. The main issue here is that many people turn to alcohol use as a social crutch. They may find it easier to interact with friends or enjoy their life. Just as problematically, many will struggle to accept their alcoholism. They don’t want to have this disease and try to hide it from others. As a result, it may be necessary to intervene.


If your loved one is struggling to accept their alcoholism, intervention may be necessary. This process often forces a person to take a step back and examine how their behavior has affected others. Often, people who go through an intervention find themselves compelled into rehab.

When setting up an intervention, you must make sure that it is a surprise to your loved one. If your loved one anticipates it, they can avoid it. The proper intervention relies on the element of surprise for success. Just as importantly, you must make sure that you have real consequences for your loved one if they refuse treatment. This step is hard but necessary for their recovery in rehab and aftercare.


After your loved one accepts their disease, it is time to get treatment. Now, how to help an alcoholic at this point varies based on their needs. For example, some respond well to outpatient care for their treatment. Outpatient rehabilitation allows them to come and go at the beginning and end of the day. As a result, they can stay with family members and even go to work to keep their life stable.

Those without jobs or who need more intensive care may need inpatient treatment. These facilities offer a 24-hour care option that ensures they are healthy. They’ll also get the chance to detox, meet sobriety partners, and participate in healing treatment sessions. These benefits make inpatient a great option and one from which most people will benefit.

But what about after your loved one leaves a rehab center? Will they relapse or take their treatment seriously? Those worried about this problem can consider aftercare for their loved ones. This care option focuses on paying attention to potential relapse triggers. It can also provide your loved one with a place to go if they need help with emotional problems related to alcohol addiction.


If you want to know how to help an alcoholic, please contact us at 1-866-824-5193 today. At Atlantic Recovery Center, we treat alcohol addiction on a personal level. No addiction is the same, and we tweak our approach to ensure your loved one gets the best results. With our small inpatient facility and a specific outpatient option, they should be able to find care that works for them. So please verify your insurance right away to get started on the path to recovery.

Seeking Solutions

At Atlantic Recovery Center, we understand how difficult it can be when learning how to help an alcoholic. We are here to help both you and your loved one navigate the path that will get them heading in the correct direction. Contact us today 1-866-824-5193 if you or a loved one needs help to beat alcohol or drug addiction. A brighter future is possible.