Considering that alcohol is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States, it’s safe to say that helping an alcoholic friend, spouse, or family member can be tricky. Because alcohol addiction is such a harmful disease, you may be feeling afraid or helpless. Our drug rehab in Massachusetts offers some great tips on how to help an alcoholic, including how to address their drinking problem, find them professional help, and support them in their recovery. But equally as important, you’ll learn how to care for yourself in the process. After reading our guide on alcoholics and how to help them, you may develop greater compassion and understanding for your loved one’s situation.
Behavioral and Physical Signs of Alcoholism
For most people, drinking isn’t a problem or an addiction. While many people are social drinkers, others frequently engage in binge drinking and struggle with alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is when a person drinks enough alcohol to raise their blood alcohol level to 0.08 or higher. Usually, men have to have five or more drinks in 2 hours to reach this level, and women need four drinks in the same time frame.1
The earliest sign of alcoholism is when a person engages in binge drinking five or more times a month, after which it becomes heavy drinking. This pattern of behavior is dangerous and puts a person at risk of developing alcoholism and alcohol-related diseases like liver failure and cancer.
Some other common signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Failed attempts to stop or cut back on drinking
- Drinking alcohol despite the repercussions on health, relationships, or work
- Using alcohol under risky circumstances, such as drinking while driving
- Increased problems in relationships and family because of alcohol
- Using alcohol even when it prevents you from working, taking care of family, or fulfilling other responsibilities
- Craving alcohol
- Spending a lot of time looking for alcohol, drinking alcohol, recovering from drinking, or thinking of drinking
- Tolerance, which is when a person has to drink more alcohol to experience the same effect
- Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s reaction to not having alcohol, which is an indicator of physical dependence
If you or someone you know has displayed any of these signs of alcohol abuse, then it’s time to get help. Clearbrook Massachusetts provides alcohol detox to mitigate the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and keep patients as safe and healthy as possible during recovery.
How to Help Someone With Alcoholism
If you have a loved one with a drinking problem, you may be wondering, “how do you help an alcoholic?” Knowing how to confront someone with alcohol addiction is the first step to getting them the care they need. When a person struggles with an alcohol problem, they may hide how much or how often they drink, lie to others about their problem, or deny they even have one. This type of behavior can make it even more difficult to get them help. Below are some tips on how to help an alcoholic that can guide and encourage you through this tough process.
Educate Yourself About Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorder refers to an uncontrollable urge to drink. Before you do anything, you should first learn the signs of alcoholism to determine whether the individual actually has this disorder. One sign is a person with this condition will drink as often as possible and often drink alone. You should also research this condition and learn as much as you can about it. You may not know exactly how the person feels, but by learning about alcoholism, you will better understand their actions and how their addiction impacts their behaviors.
Research Alcohol Rehab Facilities
The type of treatment best suited to your loved one’s needs may vary depending on their previous attempts to quit, the severity of their current alcohol use and physical dependence, any underlying mental health conditions, and any additional substance use disorders. Even so, regardless of the severity or longevity of their addiction or the extent of their denial, finding the right alcohol rehab can help you understand the treatment process for your loved one.
Clearbrook Treatment Centers Massachusetts offers a safe, clean, and efficient alcohol treatment program that includes detox and utilizes addiction therapies to help patients recover both physically and mentally. Our program may be the solution to your loved one’s drinking problem.
Choose the Right Time and Place to Talk
The number one tip on how to help an alcoholic who refuses help is never to confront them while they’re drinking or intoxicated. They may not take you seriously, and they may not fully understand or even remember the conversation later because they’re inebriated. Instead, pick a comfortable place to talk to them and a time when neither of you is rushing to get somewhere else.
Also, keep in mind that getting your loved one to accept addiction treatment may take several conversations. They may feel defensive or deny their problem at first, but, over time, they may begin to understand where you’re coming from. Before speaking with your loved one, it may be helpful to talk with a healthcare provider who can offer guidance. Then, you can speak to the person while they’re sober. Additionally, be careful with your word choices and phrasing, and do your best to remain calm and patient throughout the conversation. Avoid using “you” statements, as these can imply that you’re blaming the person or “pointing a finger” at them. Instead, use “I” statements to take an active role in the discussion and to make it clear that you’re actively going to help them in their recovery.
Listen and Respond With Honesty and Compassion
One of our most important tips on how to support an alcoholic is to listen with compassion and respond with honesty. Hoping the person gets better won’t change things. You actively have to participate in their recovery. During your conversations with the person, express your concerns about their drinking. Explain how it’s impacted or can impact their health, relationships, and career. Be prepared to face backlash or a negative reaction. The person may be in denial or become defensive because they don’t want to admit that you’re right. However, stay patient and compassionate. In the long run, they’ll appreciate having someone they can rely on.
Offer Your Active Support
Now that you’ve talked the talk, it’s time to walk the walk, meaning you should help your loved one with their alcoholism by offering your active support. Active support in recovery ranges from offering to drive them to treatment or groups to listening to them without judgment. The person may also vow to cut back on their own, but actions will always speak louder than words. Breaking an addiction to alcohol is difficult without residential treatment, so it’s important to urge them to get professional assistance.
If Push Comes to Shove, Plan an Intervention
If your loved one continues to deny treatment, then it’s time to plan an intervention. An intervention is a meeting that includes the close family and friends of the addict. It involves planning, laying out consequences, sharing personal concerns, and presenting treatment options. An intervention may be the best course of action in your case if your loved one continues to resist help. During this process, close friends and family share how they’ve been impacted by the individual’s habit and their love for them. These meetings often bring into perspective the harsh realities of long-term alcohol abuse, encouraging the individual to get the help they need.
Our final tip on how to help an alcoholic is to stick by them. While there are plenty of boundaries that you should set up, that’s another discussion for another day. If you or someone you care about is currently struggling with addiction, let us help. Call Clearbrook now at 570-536-9621 for more information about our drug and alcohol treatment in Massachusetts.
- NIH – What Is Binge Drinking?