How to Help an Alcoholic Friend or Family Member

Even in moderation, alcohol can be harmful and it has its downsides for our health. When abused, not only are these health risks more possible to acquire, we could also end up steering our lives toward a path we will eventually regret venturing into. If you have a family member or friend that has developed a dependence to alcohol or any other illicit substance, you should consider how hard a journey to recovery may be for them.

As with most problems, alcohol abuse isn’t impossible to beat. It will be a hard journey if that special someone you know walks through it alone but with your help and the guidance of a treatment facility, the path towards a better life will be easier. Before you begin asking questions like “how to help an alcoholic,” it is first important to determine whether or not a person truly has a drinking problem.

The first step towards helping a person recover from alcohol abuse is checking for any signs that he or she does have an alcohol abuse or addiction problem. Some signs you can look out for include:

  • Drinking alcohol anytime and anywhere, even if the situation is dangerous. This could include drinking while driving, or drinking while taking prescription medication from the doctor.
  • The person may also neglect his duties and responsibilities at home, work or at school. The person would rather spend time drinking.
  • People with alcohol abuse issues also tend to get run-ins with the law. The most common crime they commit is DUI or driving under the influence.
  • If the person sees drinking alcohol as a way to relax and de-stress over anything else, then there is a good chance that they may develop a dependency to it.
  • The last but most harrowing sign is that they insist on putting alcohol first over anything else even if it means putting a strain on relationships.

There’s no exact amount of alcohol that a person has to consume to be considered as alcohol dependent. What you should look for is the frequency of their drinking sessions and how they act when intoxicated and sober. If you recognise these signs in a friend or family member, the next step is to talk to them about the problem they are facing.

How to Help Them Face the Truth

People with alcohol abuse issues are not always willing to admit their problem. In fact, a lot of them will remain in denial. As a person who is concerned about their health and well-being, it is your job to help them realize that they do have a problem and that it is time for them to seek professional help. Telling them the truth is not easy as this is a sensitive matter but there are a few things to keep in mind that may guide you through it.

  • The last thing you’d want to do when you confront them is to back them into a corner they are not comfortable in. This means you have to approach the matter with patience and care. Ease them into realizing that they need to seek help.
  • You should also help them realize the consequences of their problem. You don’t have to go as far as scaring them with sensationalized statements. However, you may want to tell them about the impact that alcohol has on their lives and to those around them, possibly including you.
  • Many people may deny that they have a drinking problem as they are scared that they won’t be able to recover from it. As a concerned friend or relative, it is your job to help them understand that if they want to recover, they must accept the reality first. Let them know that the battle can be won with proper help.
  • If you think that they are better off understanding the seriousness of the situation through an intervention, then feel free to organize one. Interventions are an effective way of facing the problem and making them feel loved at the same time.
  • Most importantly, you should let them know that you love and care for them. Helping them understand that you will be with them throughout this path to recovery will encourage them to start the path to recovery.

Getting Help

Once they face the reality that they have an alcohol abuse problem, it is time to get help. At this day and age, there are numerous ways for people to recover from their substance abuse issues thanks to the wide selection of treatment facilities available nationwide. Each facility offers its own treatment program for its clients.

One of the popular ways to treat alcohol or substance abuse is through support groups. These small groups are made up of individuals facing the same problems and are guided by a counselor. The purpose of support groups is to let the participant know that they are not alone. The support participants will receive from one another will help steer them along the right path.

Another popular treatment is detoxification. The term detoxification is defined as a natural process in which the human body rids its systems of any waste products or toxins that are the result of long-term alcohol consumption. This treatment is accompanied by medication, counseling and medical observation. It is fairly common in treatment facilities but each facility offers its own take on detoxification. Detoxification is a delicate process and it must only be assisted by the best.

You can also help your friend or family member decide if they want to become an inpatient or an outpatient in a treatment facility. The latter is best reserved for those who are already experiencing serious alcohol abuse problems as they will be intensively cared for by physicians while living onsite at a treatment facility. Outpatient treatment on the other hand might be something to try if this is the first time getting treatment and the alcohol abuse problem isn’t as severe, because the client would be able to live at home during treatment.

Part of the recovery process is taking steps to ensure that the client will not relapse. Relapsing is very common among clients if they aren’t guided properly. As such, forms of therapy related to the matter must be included.

Regardless of what treatment program your friend or relative chooses, it is a must for you to show them continuous support throughout the process. If you continue to show them love and support throughout the entire treatment plan, then they will see that there are a lot of people out there who are willing to accept them despite their mistakes.

If you, a friend or a relative are showing signs of alcohol abuse, feel free to call us at St. John’s Recovery Place to start the recovery process. Now that you know how to help an alcoholic, you can begin the process of supporting your loved one through the path to recovery.

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