“Annually, 3 million deaths worldwide are attributed to alcohol abuse.”
Alcohol abuse is much more prevalent than you’d think. It’s one of the most commonly abused substances worldwide – in fact, 76 million people around the world struggle with alcoholism.
While some people struggle with a full-blown addiction, others may abuse liquor through binge drinking. If alcoholism is an issue that hits close to home, figuring out how to help an alcoholic may be a top priority for you.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to addiction, and many people don’t know what they can do to help a friend or family member who is struggling with alcohol abuse. Many people sit by idly because they’re not sure what they can do. If you’re looking to help someone who is struggling with a drinking problem, we’ve got you covered! This article will guide you step by step on how to approach, help and deal with an alcoholic. Your support and guidance may be just what they need to get their lives back on the right track.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Here, at Róglas Recovery, we are dedicated to helping anyone struggling with alcoholism overcome their addictions. Our dedicated team of addiction experts will offer you all the support you need, from access to addiction resources to help connecting with local support groups and more.
#1. Learn how to deal with an alcoholic
Before you can help anyone, you need to help yourself first by learning more about alcoholism. If you want to learn how to deal with an alcoholic, you must first educate yourself on what it means to be an alcoholic.
Most experts agree that alcoholism is not a choice. It is a chronic mental health disorder.
Those who are struggling with this disease cannot simply quit. Their brains are now wired differently.
Studies show that there are fundamental changes in the neurochemical levels and pathways in the brains of people who have developed a dependence and addiction to alcohol.
After familiarizing yourself with what it means to be an alcoholic, it’s important to explore your relationship with the individual.
Many close friends and family members of alcoholics have a toxic, codependent relationship with the alcohol user. They may enable the addiction by helping the alcoholic come up with excuses for his or her drinking. Or, they may financially support the alcoholic.
Take a good look at yourself and determine how you may be contributing to the abuse. For example, do you help the alcohol abuser come up with excuses for his or her actions? Do you bail him or her out of jail or out of bad situations?
If you do, it’s time to stop. Consider going to mutual support groups, like Al-Anon, to learn more about addiction and how to help an alcohol recover.
How to Tell If a Loved One Is an Alcoholic
Before you take the time to learn how to help an alcoholic friend or family member, you must first be able to recognize the symptoms of an addiction to alcohol.
Currently, addiction specialists use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V or DSM 5) to diagnose a substance use disorder (SUD).
DSM 5 uses 11 criteria to determine the severity of an addiction. To figure out whether a loved one is struggling with a drinking problem, try to answer the following questions:
- Is your loved one drinking more than he or she intends?
- Has he or she ever tried to abstain from alcohol, but failed?
- Does he or she spend a lot of time getting, using or recovering from alcohol abuse?
- Does he or she ever experience cravings or urges to drink?
- Have you noticed his or her drinking affecting their work, home or school life?
- Does he or she continue to drink even when it causes problems in his or her relationships?
- Has he or she given up important recreational, occupational or social activities due to his or her drinking?
- Does he or she continue to drink even if the drinking puts him or her in dangerous situations?
- Has his or her tolerance grown over time?
- Have you noticed them going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
- Does he or she continue to drink even if it causes a physical or psychological problem or makes it worse?
If you were able to answer “yes” to two to three questions, it may be indicative of a mild AUD.
A “yes” to four to five questions may be indicative of a moderate AUD.
A “yes” to six or more questions may be indicative of a severe AUD.
#2. Explore the Various Types of Treatment Options Available
Approximately 89% of people struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction will never seek help.
These individuals may be too afraid to acknowledge that their “recreational drinking” has become a problem. They may be afraid of getting sober because the road to recovery is going to be difficult and trying.
You can take a huge load off the alcoholic’s shoulders by learning about the various treatment options that are available to them.
Help them understand what the different components of recovery may be, and figure out how to achieve long-term recovery. Those looking to achieve lifelong sobriety will need help from an addiction treatment center.
Professional treatment is fundamental to a successful recovery, and is one of the main suggestions on how to help an alcoholic.
What Alcohol Addiction Treatment Looks Like
Each patient will need something different. The addiction experts at Rósglas Recovery pride ourselves in offering customized addiction treatment plans. We tailor each component of our treatment plans to the unique needs of each patient.
Alcohol addiction treatment usually starts off with medical detox. Patients are prescribed a cocktail of medications, like disulfiram or acamprosate, based on the type and severity of withdrawal symptoms experienced. These medications are crucial to recovery, as they will reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. They even help patients avoid extremely dangerous symptoms, like delirium tremens.
The medical detox phase of most alcohol addiction treatment programs typically last 7 to 14 days. This is the amount of time that it takes for brain chemistry levels to stabilize.
Once patients have completed the detox phase of the substance abuse treatment plan, they can move onto other types of treatments.
An effective and comprehensive treatment plan will only rely on evidence-based treatment approaches, like:
- Behavioral Therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Addiction counseling
- Psychiatric consultations and psychotherapy
- Creative therapies, like equine-assisted therapy and art therapy
- Psycho-education and drug education
- Personal training and relaxation and mindfulness exercises
For the treatment to be successful, the alcoholic needs to be willing to receive treatment.
This may take time or may take a lot of convincing. Be patient with those who are struggling with an AUD, as many will refuse help in the beginning.
#3. Learn How to Talk to an Alcoholic About Recovery
Approaching an alcohol abuser about his or her drinking problem is never easy.
You might be met with a lot of hostility, denial and anger. It would help if you learned how to confront an alcoholic using effective intervention methods.
While there are many different strategies and techniques, there are some guidelines that you should consider:
- Invite the right type of people. It’s usually easier to host an intervention with other people who are concerned about the alcoholic. The right people will help you to defuse tense situations. For example, if you’re wondering how to deal with an alcoholic husband, it may be a good idea to have his parents at the intervention.
- Be as supportive and positive as possible. Let the alcoholic know that you love him or her very much. Try to be as compassionate and empathetic as possible. Don’t judge the alcohol abuser, as this will only push him or her further away.
- Emphasize that addiction is a disease. Let the affected individual know that you are on his or her side.
- Offer them various solutions. As mentioned above, there are many different types of treatment options. Give your loved one plenty of options to choose from.
- Be firm about the consequences. One of the main things that you’ll learn about how to deal with an alcoholic is to be firm with your decisions. Don’t let the individual push your boundaries. Firmly state the consequences of not getting help.
For example, many partners may decide to file for divorce when dealing with an alcoholic husband who refuses to get help.
Approaching someone who is struggling with alcoholism can be difficult.
It can be hard to find the right words. Members of our team, or an intervention specialist, can help you figure out where to begin.
Write an Intervention Letter
If you’re not very good with face-to-face confrontation, you might want to consider writing a heartfelt intervention letter instead.
This letter should convey the fact that you understand that addiction is a disease, and that you are not here to judge. It should give examples of how the addiction has affected those around the addict, and what the consequences for not getting help may be.
Many addiction experts recommend starting an intervention letter with an expression of love or gratitude. This will allow the recipient to be more open to your recommendations.
Make sure that you bring up specific instances of how their actions may have affected you.
Many alcoholics end up bringing the intervention letters with them when they go to rehab. These letters become a source of motivation and inspiration for them during difficult times.
It may help them stay on the right path and avoid relapses when all they want to do is give up.
A Sample Intervention Letter from a Mother to Her Daughter
I want you to know that I love you very much. I’ve loved you since the day that you came into this world.
You’ve always been my source of joy and happiness. I’ve always admired your kindred spirit and your motivation for improving yourself. Do you remember when you decided to move out for college? I was so worried, but you quickly showed me how capable you are.
I know that we haven’t been on good terms lately. We’ve been butting heads a lot ever since you’ve started abusing prescription pain pills. It’s not your fault. I know that addiction is a disease.
I’ve watched as the prescription opioids drained away your energy and your spirit. You’ve changed quite a lot. You lock yourself in your room every day and barely go out. You no longer have any interest in anything else. You used to go running every morning, remember? You haven’t gone for a run in months.
I’m worried about you. Sometimes, I find you passed out on the sofa when I come home. Other times, your eyes glaze over and it seems like you’re not even there when I speak to you.
I’m not the only one who has noticed this. Your dad has too, and he’s equally as worried.
We love you, and we want you to get help. We’ve found an excellent alcohol rehab facility that offers you the treatment that you need to get sober, and we’ve already reserved a space for you. All you need to do is agree to get help.
This is hard for me to say, but if you don’t agree to get help, I won’t lie for you anymore. I won’t bail you out of trouble or continue to finance your life. It’s time for you to take responsibility for your own choices in life.
I know that overcoming an addiction is difficult, but I know that you can do it. You have our support. Please consider getting help.
Contact Rósglas Recovery to Learn How You Help an Alcoholic
Approaching a loved one about alcoholism can be difficult. You may not know what to say, and you may not know where to begin.
Here, at Rósglas Recovery, we offer some of the best psychiatric, medical and clinical care available for those struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Our treatment approach allows us to focus on only one client at a time.
We are a luxury therapy retreat in Ireland that offers a wide range of evidence-based treatment approaches, like biochemical restoration, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, equine-assisted therapies, alpha-stim therapy and more.
This means that your loved ones will get around-the-clock medical supervision and care. They’ll have the attention of every specialist on our team.
If you think your loved one is ready to get sober or if you want to learn more about how you can help an alcoholic, contact us to learn more about our treatment plans and rates.
Our addiction specialists will walk you through the different substance abuse therapy programs that we offer, and the benefits of each unique feature.