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.
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.
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 877.432.0867 if you or a loved one needs help to beat alcohol or drug addiction. A brighter future is possible.