How to Help an Alcoholic Back on the Path to Recovery
Although the path to alcohol addiction recovery may be bumpy, there are several ways to ease up the process. Discover how to help an alcoholic here.
When someone you love or care for is in the throes of alcohol addiction, it can be uncomfortable and even nerve-wracking to walk alongside him or her during the path to recovery. Yet, this is a journey that many find themselves on. In the United States alone, 17.6 million people suffer from a form of alcohol abuse or dependence.
It is often through the support of others that alcoholics find long-term relief and freedom. The good news is that even the most severe cases are still hopeful. Industry experts reveal that one-third of those suffering from alcoholism make a full recovery.
If you’re wondering how to help an alcoholic you know get back on the right path, read on. Today, we’re breaking down how you can do your part to offer the guidance, advice, and connection that are so critical at this important juncture.
Learn About the Disease First
It’s easy to say “I understand” or “I realize what you’re going through.” Yet, those words can often fall flat if you’re unaware of exactly what alcoholism is. Before you begin providing support, it’s important to research the disease to the fullest extent possible.
Learn what it entails, where its roots lie, who’s most commonly affected, and what some of the most common signs are. If you can, attend an open session of an existing support group and listen to some of the stories around the room. Though it can be uncomfortable, immersing yourself in this environment can help you understand the addict’s mindset. It can also reveal some of the most common stumbling blocks.
After all, before you can understand how to help an alcoholic, you need to be able to offer support beyond a simple command to just quit drinking. Absorbing all you can on the topic can help you reach a deeper level of understanding and compassion.
Gather Support (For You, Too)
This isn’t a solo effort. To truly help the addict on the road to recovery, you’ll need backup and support from those closest to him or her. Sometimes, this might mean revealing the issue to persons who before now didn’t realize there was a problem.
Speak to the alcoholic’s spouse, close friends, or other family members, and join together to offer united support. If there is a confrontation, discuss the conversation beforehand to ensure everyone is on the same page. You’ll need to be firm in your resolution, yet remain calm throughout the conversation. Need a way to break the ice? Consider bringing informative literature with you so you can start with some key points and eye-opening stats.
Ensure Against Enabling
You might not be directly lending the alcoholic money, but did you know that you might still be enabling the habit, even without realizing it? Covering up for the person is a prime example. Making excuses for tardiness, sloppy behavior, or missed appointments is one of the most common ways a loved one can, over time, turn into an enabler.
The first step when learning how to help an alcoholic is knowing when to cut the purse string (or to tell others to). Barring a medical emergency, it goes without saying that if you are extending financial support, even under the guise of helping with rent or making a car payment for the alcoholic, you should stop immediately. Yet, also consider what others ways you’re making the road to recovery longer and even more difficult for the sufferer walking it.
Confront and Converse in Private
In a state of desperation, and to reveal to the alcoholic the full extent of his or her damaging lifestyle, it can be tempting to call the person out in public. You might think that if others see and overhear the conversation taking place, the public shaming might be enough to “snap” the alcoholic into sobriety.
Yet, experts reveal that being ashamed of drinking only leads alcoholics deeper into addiction, not farther away from it. It also leads to a greater likelihood of relapse. When the time comes
When the time comes to have those important, intimate talks (whether one-on-one or with a small group), choose a location that’s private, quiet, and relaxed. Putting the alcoholic on the spot or in the spotlight can conjure up the very anxieties that stir a need to drink in the first place.
Encourage a New, Sober Network
Recovery is more than a 12-step process. It’s a total lifestyle change that means shedding old ways for entirely new ones. As such, if you’re interested in how to help an alcoholic, one of the ways you can assist is by helping to recreate the addict’s social circle.
Encourage relationships with sober, like-minded individuals. Discourage those with peers who drink heavily, as this company could spur a relapse. Not sure where to start? Try asking some of your sober friends and family members to make an introduction. You can also encourage memberships in support groups for accountability and friendship.
Learn How to Identify a Relapse
As you navigate the addict through the recovery phase, you should be able to realize some of the most tell-tale signs of relapse. Then, you’ll be better able to call on the immediate help and care needed. Here are just a few signs the road to recovery might be taking a different turn:
- Isolation: Is the addict withdrawing from normal activities that used to bring happiness?
- Indifference: Does the addict no longer care about recovery, no longer attend support meetings, or no longer talk about his or her progress?
- Inversion: Has the addict returned to his or her favorite bar or watering hole more frequently or started hanging out with the original crew?
- Intensity: Has the addict started to express strong emotion, such as anger or anxiety, that he or she would normally stifle with alcohol?
How to Help an Alcoholic: Your First Step Starts Today
Maybe you’re just starting out in the support phase, or maybe you’ve been on this journey for a while. Either way, we’d love to help lighten your load.
We’re an affordable treatment center, based in Los Angeles, offering a range of support for those battling addiction. Our offerings include a Detox Program, Inpatient Rehab, Outpatient Rehab, and Sober Living Homes to aid in the transition.