When you have a close friend or a loved one who is an alcoholic, it can be a difficult and complex problem. On one hand, you don’t want to wrongly accuse them of anything or put them on the defensive, but on the other, you want to ensure they are getting the help they need. There’s certainly a fine line between providing support and enabling someone with a drinking problem.
The following are seven ways to offer beneficial help that won’t further them along the path of addiction.
Ways to Support an Alcoholic
1. Protect Yourself
Alcoholism is a problem that affects everyone around the person who is suffering from the disease. It’s natural for those close to the drinker to feel a variety of emotions from anger and frustration to anxiety, disappointment, and denial. The first step is identifying that there is a problem.
Some of the signs to be on the lookout for include:
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Run-ins with the law
- Hangover symptoms
- Increased tolerance
Once the problem has been established, gain strength in knowledge. Find others who have suffered from the disease. Al-Anon is a great option for learning about the disease and getting help for yourself.
2. Don’t Lend Money to an Alcoholic
It’s incredibly common for at least one family member or friend to be financially supporting an alcoholic. Alcoholics are often quick to cry poor when they want funds to spend on their habit. And, they will often neglect financial responsibilities such as rent, child support, and bills just to buy more alcohol. The reality is that money never cures alcoholism. It only extends the problem. The majority of alcoholics will not feel compelled to seek recovery unless they are faced with serious consequences. By providing money, you’re only preventing the individual from hitting the place where they can identify they need help.
3. Stay Calm When They Are Drunk
The time to discuss an alcohol problem isn’t when the alcoholic is drunk. This will only fuel a heated argument that will not resolve anything. It’s important to approach an alcoholic when they are sober and share how you feel in a calm, straightforward way.
4. Talk to Others Within The Alcoholic’s “Inner Circle”
It’s important to try and get everyone in the alcoholic’s life on the same page about the problem. It only takes one person enabling to prevent the alcoholic from getting the help they need. Share this article or get outside resources to tell others what boundaries need to be set and what help is required. Alcoholics Anonymous has a tremendous amount of beneficial content on the topic to help better explain the problem.
5. Get Help From an Interventionist if the Alcoholic’s Life Is at Risk
It’s a common misconception that an alcoholic has to want help for the help to work. In many cases, the addiction is so strong, they are long past the point of identifying their need for help. For alcoholics who are deeply entrenched with their addiction and heading down a very risky and dangerous path, it may be time to call in an interventionist to confront them about the problem before it’s too late.
6. Offer to Take the Alcoholic to an AA Meeting
Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that works for millions of alcoholics, and it can be a very effective part of a comprehensive treatment program. If your friend or loved one is unwilling to go on their own, offer to attend a meeting with them. Often, this first step can help propel the individual to get the help they need.
7. Get Off Your High Horse
Taking the moral high ground and chastising an alcoholic will only backfire, even if your intentions are good. The individual knows right from wrong, but is battling an addiction that requires treatment. Just as you wouldn’t “preach” to someone battling diabetes or cancer, you shouldn’t do this to someone suffering from alcoholism.
Whether you’re an alcoholic or you know someone who is, call us. The first step starts with asking for help. Our caring and supportive staff is standing by.