If you believe that a friend or family member is suffering from alcohol dependence, knowing how to help an alcoholic can allow you to provide the kind of support your loved one needs to get better.
How common is alcoholism?
In the United States, one in 12 adults suffers from alcohol addiction or dependence.
It’s important to remember that some have a mild dependence on alcohol while others have a more severe addiction. Either can negatively impact the lives of those who love the person in question.
To help an alcoholic, you need to know the following:
- What it means to be an alcoholic
- How to approach an alcoholic
- How to support an alcoholic
In this guide, we will give you tips to aid you in each of these steps. Let’s get started with looking deeper into what it means to suffer from alcohol dependence.
What does it mean to be an alcoholic?
When someone is an alcoholic, she or he is suffering on both a psychological and physical level.
If you are trying to determine if your loved one is alcohol-dependent, look for the symptoms of addiction. Keep in mind that any one person may not exhibit every symptom.
Once you’ve assessed whether someone is showing the signs of alcohol addiction, it’s time to move on to how to help that person.
How to help an alcoholic part one: The right approach
Learning how to approach someone you love about a possible addiction problem is the first step. Here are some helpful tips that can provide you with a successful approach:
- Practice what you’ll say before you say it.
- Tell your loved one how you feel in a private setting.
- Speak and listen openly and honestly.
- Offer support–for example, you might offer to attend meetings with your loved one.
It’s important not to make your loved one feel as though you are attacking them. Own your feelings but be compassionate.
How to help an alcoholic part two: The right support
Once you’ve had the talk with your loved one about their alcohol dependence, how can you provide support?
We mentioned offering to go with your loved one to meetings. Other forms of support include helping them find a rehab center, a therapist, or other resources.
Offering an open ear can be a great boon, too.
Get support for yourself too. Al-Anon meetings can be a great place to start for family members and friends of alcoholics.
Don’t Make These Mistakes
You might be tempted to do these things because it might seem like they will help, but in the long run, they could have the opposite effect.
- Don’t enable an alcoholic by giving them money unless it is to pay for a medical service.
- Don’t labor under the impression that you are going to cure your loved one.
Remember that a woman who has more than 7 drinks each week, or a man who has more than 14, is at risk for alcoholism. Look for the signs and symptoms, take the right approach, and offer support.
If you have additional questions about helping a loved one who is struggling with alcohol dependence, please contact us.