How Do You Help Someone with Alcohol Addiction?


Alcohol addiction is never a simple issue. It’s complex and challenging. It often masks an underlying trauma or mental health issue, and it’s often hidden for a long time. It hurts everyone involved.

All of these factors make it difficult to help a loved one with alcohol addiction. Yet, that doesn’t mean you should give up on them. It means a multi-faceted approach that considers these complexities is needed. Here are some strategies to approach the issue with thoughtfulness, careful consideration, and support.

Come from a Place of Love

When a loved one has an alcohol addiction, it can fill you with sadness, helplessness, and even frustration and anger. However, it’s important to start the conversation with empathy and understanding.

This will make them more receptive to your concerns and opinions. They will be less likely to lash out and get defensive than if you were to approach them with blame and anger. Create a safe space to offer support and ensure you listen to your loved one without judgment. Encourage them to talk about their issues, challenges, and future goals, and make sure they feel heard.

It is the first step to a positive conversation about overcoming alcohol addiction. It builds trust, which is essential for the success of any intervention.

Assess Your Loved One’s Unique Situation

Coming from a place of love is easier if you take the time to assess your loved one’s unique alcohol addiction. Their history, triggers, family life, past traumas, and mental health should be assessed to better understand how you can help. For example, should you recommend trauma counselling? Help them stay on medications? Offer them a safe place to stay away from abusers.

This assessment can help you understand why your loved one has an alcohol addiction, which can lead to a personalized treatment plan and support.

Consult Addiction Treatment Centres

Many individuals struggling with alcohol dependency simply cannot overcome their addiction on their own, regardless of the support they may have from loved ones.

If you’ve tried to help your loved one over time with no long-term recovery, your best option may be to convince them to check into an addiction treatment center. Here, they can receive the medical intervention, therapy, and supervised detoxification that they may need to beat their addiction for good.

Addiction treatment centers offer intensive and structured support. Many offer both residential and outpatient care.

Become Educated on Addiction and Recovery

Understanding the complexities of alcohol dependency and educating yourself about the recovery process can better prepare you to help your loved one when they need you the most, with the appropriate care and support they may need at any given stage of the process.

This is important during the early stages of intervention and for ongoing recovery care. Equip yourself and your loved one with relapse prevention strategies, coping mechanisms, and trigger recognition.

Create and Support Goals

If your loved one is receptive to receiving support and making changes to their lives for the better, you’re one step closer to helping them overcome alcohol addiction.

The next stage is to encourage momentum, empower ownership of the recovery journey, and help ensure long-term success by creating small, achievable goals.

Examples of goals could be removing themselves from triggers – like negative influences. It could be searching for and applying for five jobs per day. I could be signing up for weekly therapy sessions.

Explore Support Networks

As much as you want to help your loved one struggling with alcohol addiction, they may need more support than you alone can offer them. Consider exploring additional support networks that they can access, such as group therapy sessions or Alcoholics Anonymous.

Involving other family members and friends in their recovery process can also help them have more people to turn to when they need additional support.

Review Therapeutic Intervention Options

Therapeutic interventions may be required for long-term recovery. Research options for your loved one, such as cognitive-behavioural or motivational enhancement therapy.

While you cannot force your loved one to use these therapeutic interventions, you can suggest the options and explain their benefits, such as helping them address underlying issues and develop coping strategies.

Encourage Holistic Health

As we’ve already mentioned, alcohol dependency is often interconnected with trauma and mental health. Our emotional, mental, and physical health are all connected.

It only makes sense, then, to encourage holistic health care that includes mental health support when a loved one is in recovery. Encourage them to make healthy lifestyle choices, like improving their diet, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness.

If possible, take a fitness class together, cook healthy meals together, and participate in yoga or meditation together as an act of encouragement and support. These steps can aid in sustaining recovery.

Commit to Continuing Care

Addiction recovery is not a one-and-done process. Your loved one will be in recovery for the rest of their lives – and they will have ups and downs during the weeks, months, and years ahead.

Commit to supporting them for the long term by creating a comprehensive follow-up care plan that will help them transition back into their daily lives and avoid relapse. Your continued support will be important to promote long-term recovery.


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