Four Ways to Help an Alcoholic You Love
Watching someone in the throes of their addiction is not unlike watching someone drown at sea while you stand at the shore. The utter feeling of helplessness can be crushing. Too often, those who have alcoholics in their lives find themselves wondering if there is anything at all that they can do to help.
Although helping someone through alcoholism isn't easy, it isn't impossible, either. There are a few simple things that you can do to help support someone through substance abuse, as well as encouraging them to seek treatment.
Here are four ways that you can help an alcoholic that you love.
- Accept that they have a problem. Denial is one of the many forces that make addiction so hard to treat. It is easy to make excuses for the people that we love, or to accept the excuses that they make for themselves. Owning up to the times that we have enjoyed a drink with someone who has an alcohol problem or examining all the ways that we have turned a blind eye to their condition doesn't help solve anything.It is important to accept the present and let go of the past. More importantly, it is crucial for you to understand when a mild drinking problem has become a full-blown addiction. This is the first step in trying to get an alcoholic help.
- Accept that you can't force a person into recovery. Technically, you could have a court order to send a person to rehab. You can make demands and threats and hide bottles of alcohol. However, none of these things will actually make an alcoholic give up their drinking. Rather, it will create a feeling of mistrust and push them further away.Attempting to force a person to seek treatment is almost as bad as pretending that there is no problem and enabling them. Accepting that the choice to seek recovery is solely the responsibility of the alcoholic you love is a huge step towards being able to support them. Giving them the space to seek treatment on their own will allow them to make the choice for themselves—and make that choice much more likely to stick.
- Set boundaries—and stick to them. If you find yourself picking your loved one up from the bar or shelling out cash to allow them to drink, you need to reexamine your role in their addiction. Likewise, getting stuck in cycles of arguing and guilt-tripping does little to persuade an alcoholic to stop drinking. It can also be incredibly painful and draining.It is important to accept that alcoholism is a personal responsibility of the person who is suffering from it. Set clear boundaries (e.g., not offering rides from the bar and not forcing them to get out of bed to get to work) so that you can begin to feel less complicit in their addiction. You can allow your loved one to recognize that their drinking has real-world consequences, like getting a DUI or losing their job.
- Know when it's time to involve a professional. It can be difficult to open up to a stranger about our problems, particularly when we are embarrassed by them. In a situation where a family member or spouse is an alcoholic, admitting that you "let them" get this way can make anyone feel like a failure. However, you cannot help another person unless you get help yourself. It is important that you stop trying to place blame and start taking proactive steps to get them—and yourself—the help needed to begin healing.Attend counseling for families of alcoholics to vent your own frustrations about your loved one's addiction. Speaking to a professional can open up ways to begin dealing with the hurt that your loved one's addiction has caused as well as identifying ways to avoid enabling their alcoholism. It can also give you a great starting point to offer help to your loved one should they choose to seek treatment.
Remember, you cannot "fix" an alcoholic: not with love, not with ignoring the problem, and certainly not by force. The only thing that you can do is be honest about the things you see, how you feel, and the boundaries that you want to set. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing when it comes to dealing with addiction in others. With enough time and firmness from friends and family, it is likely that your addicted loved one will begin to see how their drinking effects those around them and decide to begin their recovery.
With the right kind of help, any alcoholic can find their own way into treatment. Offer support when they come around and contact your local Drug Treatment Centers today at (910) 338-2891 to learn more about helping an alcoholic through their addiction in a healthy way.