How to Help Someone With Alcoholism and Addiction

by | Aug 1, 2022 | Addiction, Alcohol Addiction, Uncategorized

When you have a loved one struggling with alcoholism and addiction, it can feel like an endless cycle of false hope and disappointment.

But there’s good news.

Back in 2018, the CDC published a study with encouraging information: 

Approximately 75% of adults who report having a substance problem join a recovery program.

Recovery is possible for your loved one, and the first step is bringing awareness to their problem.

In this guide to helping someone with alcoholism and addiction, we’ll cover:

  • Dealing with alcoholism and addiction
  • How to help someone with alcoholism and addiction
  • How to help someone struggling with alcoholism and addiction
  • How to help your loved one get sober
  • Do’s and Don’ts of helping a loved one find/through recovery
  • How to convince someone struggling with alcoholism and addiction they need help
  • What to expect from alcohol and addiction treatment for your loved one
  • Supporting your loved one through recovery

Dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction: Denial, Enabling, and Recovery

Denial

Anyone who has tried to talk about alcoholism or addiction with their loved one can relate to hearing the same response: “I’m not an alcoholic” or “I’m not a drug addict.”

To them, everything might seem entirely under control, and understandably that’s probably the influence of the drug itself, distorting their perceptions.

Don’t be discouraged if your loved one refuses to admit to their problem; denial is all too common. 

Many people struggling with alcoholism and addiction have said the same lines yet eventually received help and seen a change in their lives.

Enabling

When you enable your loved one’s struggle, you communicate that they don’t need to change and don’t need help. Enabling isn’t always providing the means (money, transportation, the addictive substance itself); Sometimes, it takes the form of complacency. When we don’t speak up and address the issue, it’s as empowering to the addiction as if you were directly supporting it.

Codependency

When someone is codependent, they’re incapable of supporting themselves with life’s basic needs. 

Codependency isn’t a word with negative connotations in itself. For example, imagine an infant; they can’t feed themselves or bathe themselves. They can’t even walk in their first several months of life. They rely on a caretaker to meet their needs and keep them alive. 

A codependent adult relies on others to meet their needs as well. This could look like an inability to hold a job, take care of children, or lack emotional stability.

In alcoholism and addiction, the person is incapable of independence in areas of their life due to the harmful impact of the drug. Some substance problems can become so severe that the person wholly relies on a “caretaker.” This caretaker is usually a friend or a family member. While addiction’s effects are physically and mentally damaging to the user, their loved ones are also emotionally and, at times, financially burdened.

How to Help Someone Struggling with Alcoholism and Addiction

The first step in helping a family member or friend with drug addiction or alcoholism is to talk to them about it. Call out the destructive behavior, not the person; this shows compassion and that you care about them.

Bring to their attention the addictive patterns they exhibit, how it affects them, and how it affects the people around them.If talking to them about their problem doesn’t make a difference, or they become defensive, you can speak to them about an intervention. This might seem counterproductive – they already claim they’re “fine,” but some individuals do want help but feel helpless on their own. Offering an alternative like an intervention can give them hope and a fresh perspective on overcoming alcoholism and addiction.

How to Help Your Loved One Get Sober

Staging an intervention with friends and family members can generate support and convince your loved one that they need to break free of their distorted perceptions.

Having an addiction interventionist present can keep the conversation productive and moving in the right direction. They also will have expert insight and the ability to moderate from an objective perspective.

Offer positive words of encouragement to your loved one and be willing to listen. To become sober, they need a support system that wants to see them clean and believes they’re capable of it.

Following an intervention, seeking treatment through rehabilitation is vital in recovery.

Do’s and Don’ts of Helping a Loved One Find/Through Recovery

DO research the types of treatment options available.

It’s essential to look at multiple treatment programs and help your loved one find the right program that meets their needs. 

Here are a few things to consider during your research:

  • Do they want a local rehab? Would they be willing to travel? There are institutes to consider nationally.
  • Do they want inpatient or outpatient care?
  • Does the rehab offer treatment for their specific addiction?
  • Does the rehab offer fun activities and amenities?

DO give them room to be independent in the recovery process.

A support system is essential, but they must move on from their codependency. 

Allowing them to be independent and take care of themselves is a must.

DO be aware of their triggers.

If your loved one doesn’t know their triggers, their rehab addiction specialist can help identify them. 

Knowing what environments, situations, and conversations can risk a relapse is pivotal during recovery.

DO build a support network for your loved one. 

Having a circle of friends and family that offers encouragement shows that people believe in their ability to change and will reliably hold them accountable.

DON’T make all their decisions.

Helping your loved one find the right rehab shows your support, but they need to take the initiative. 

Let them make the appointment to tour the rehab and ask questions themself. If you continue to do everything for them, it will only further the cycle of codependency.

DON’T push them in recovery.

Addiction is a powerful force. 

It changes your worldview, your priorities, and your mental state. 

It’s going to take time to overcome it and fully recover. 

As your loved one makes their way through the stages of recovery, give them space and support but never discourage them because they’re making slow progress or falling short.

DON’T give up on them.

Even the most seemingly hopeless situations can change for the better. 

Every person struggling with alcoholism and addiction can change, especially with a solid support system. It comes down to their commitment to recovery.

How to Convince Someone Struggling with Alcoholism and Addiction They Need Help

Remember to be firm but compassionate when approaching a loved one about their addiction.

Address the problem from your perspective and avoid any statements that will make them defensive. Replace phrases that use “you” with “I’. 

For example, rather than saying, “You make me frustrated when you do this,” say, “I feel frustrated when you do this.”

Here are some other things to remember when confronting them one-on-one:

  • Listen. Of course, you have a lot to say; you’re worried for them and want to express your concern, but hear them out too. This can make them feel more comfortable about getting professional help.
  • Avoid tension. A conversation about their addiction is already going to be awkward and possibly lead to them getting irritated. Try to approach them gently, even asking ahead of time for them to make time to talk with you.

If a one-on-one conversation isn’t producing any change, the next step would be an intervention. 

You can stage an intervention with just friends and family members, but having an addiction interventionist present can keep the conversation productive and moving forward.

What to Expect from Alcoholism and Addiction Treatment for your Loved One

Alcoholism and addiction treatment options differ depending on the center. At Soul Surgery in Scottsdale, Arizona, we assess the specific needs and work closely with your loved one to ensure they stay on track in their recovery.

They will go through a detox that begins immediately after their assessment. Our team of highly qualified and trained staff carefully monitors our patients during their detox process.

We will then put a recovery plan in motion. Our evidence-based program will cater to your loved one’s specific needs and have them working closely with our addiction therapists in individual and group sessions with other guests.

Alcohol and Addiction treatment will prepare them for life back in the real world by teaching valuable coping skills and retraining their brain to let go of the distortions brought on by the problem.

It can be hard to watch a loved one go through a detox and struggle with alcoholism or addiction. At Soul Surgery, we offer exciting activities and amenities to make their time here enjoyable. 

Some of our activities and amenities include:

  • Full gym
  • Basketball and tennis courts
  • Spacious grounds
  • Yoga and massages
  • Putting green
  • Cardio platforms
  • Pool
  • Semi-private suite

These experiences reinforce that our guests can have fun and enjoy life sober.

Supporting your Loved one Through Recovery

The process of recovery will be a challenging time for your loved one. It’s a crucial time to encourage independence and accountability. Your loved one needs to know they can do this through self-will and with support – they won’t be alone. It’s a balancing act, but growth and patience make recovery possible.

Help for Families Dealing with Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Both alcoholism and addiction don’t just affect the user. It impacts their friends and family. Rehab isn’t a one-person show; if your family is dealing with the effects of alcoholism and drug addiction, consider options like family therapy, where you’ll work with a mental health professional in a group setting. Below is a list of resources for families needing outside addiction support.

Al-Anon

Al-Anon is an international organization with recovery programs for families and friends whose loved ones are dealing with alcoholism.

Codependents Anonymous

Codependents Anonymous offers a twelve-step program for friends and family to develop healthy relationships.

Adult Childen of Alcoholics (ACA)

ACA offers a twelve-step program specially designed for people who grew up in dysfunctional homes.

Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL)

PAL provides meetings for parents whose children are dealing with addiction. Parents receive the tools and information to help their son or daughter get support.

Don’t wait.

Call Soul Surgery for alcoholism and addiction support, resources, and recovery. Get your loved one on the path to healing today.

Related Questions:

1. What do you do when someone is an alcoholic or addicted to drugs?

Talk to them about their alcoholism or addiction. Be direct and compassionate, offering your support and voicing concern for their well-being. If they deny the issue or deny that they need help, an intervention with others in their support system can encourage their awareness. After an intervention, going to a rehabilitation center for alcoholism and addiction can put them on the path to recovery.

2. What are some solutions for alcoholism and addiction?

As you bring the issue to their attention, take each of these steps, progressing to the next when no positive change occurs: Speak with them one-on-one, have an intervention, and talk to them about rehabilitation. An intervention is an excellent transition into getting your loved one to consider rehab.

3. How long does it take a person to overcome alcoholism or addiction?

Every person’s recovery journey is different. We can’t place a specific duration of time on how long it will take for you to see your loved one overcome their addiction.

We do know that long-term in-patient treatment offers a higher chance of recovery

What’s important to remember is that recovery is possible.

4. What should you do if you have an alcohol problem or addiction?

If you have a substance problem, acknowledge that you’re already moving in the right direction by asking this question. Tell trusted friends and family about your concern to build a support system and reach out to Soul Surgery today so we can answer your questions and guide you through recovery.

Dr. Ravi Chandiramani
Dr. Ravi Chandiramani is a Naturopathic physician with over 15 years experience working with those struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Over those 15 years he has worked with over 7,000 patients. He is the founder of the Integrative Addiction Medicine (I-AM) model which combines evidence-based conventional addiction medicine with the nurturing and rebuilding modalities inherent to the practice of Naturopathic medicine.

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