Help for a Loved One

Witnessing a loved one dealing with alcoholism is a painful experience. One that can often leave you feeling helpless, frustrated, sad, and angry.

You may feel as though there is nothing you can do to help your loved one recover from their addiction. However, while it is ultimately up to the person dealing with addiction to take the steps towards recovery, there are still actions you can take in order to push your loved one towards recovering.

How to tell if your loved one has an alcohol problem

For many people, drinking is a normal part of life. Consuming alcohol is considered to be a normal social activity in most of the world, and, when done in moderation, drinking can be mostly harmless.

Unfortunately, however, alcohol can become addicting to some people, and this addiction can lead to years of pain, heartbreak, and health issues, both short-and-long-term.

But how can you know for sure if your loved one genuinely relies on alcohol? Perhaps they have told you that they could stop drinking any time they want to, or that they don’t get drunk as often as you suspect they do.

Whatever the case may be, there are a few key signs that point to someone’s alcohol habits being an addiction rather than an activity that they could stop participating in whenever they “want to.”

1. They drink too much too often

Lots of people tell stories of the few times they got drunk at a party and woke up with a terrible hangover. Or of how they were once so stressed out that they got drunk at a bar.

But for many others, drinking excessively is not an occasional occurrence reserved for times where they just feel like partying. For many individuals, drinking excessively has become a regular occurrence. Something that takes place whether at home, at a social gathering, or even at work, in extreme cases.

2. They are frequently neglecting daily tasks due to their drinking

Oftentimes, those suffering from alcohol addiction will begin to neglect responsibilities and tasks. This is either directly due to them being too intoxicated, or due to them having to handle the consequences of their drinking, such as having an awful hangover, or, worse, being in jail for driving under the influence of alcohol.

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To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 111 41 08

3. They are becoming more and more dishonest about their drinking habits

Perhaps, on a nearly regular basis, you are certain that your loved one has been drinking or is recovering from a hangover. But when you bring it up to them, they claim that this doesn’t happen often, or that they weren’t drinking that much, or they may even say they weren’t drinking at all.

Basically, they are refusing to acknowledge and/or accept what is obviously true. This is a sign that they are in denial, which is one of the most difficult symptoms associated with Alcohol Use Disorder (or AUD). And denial results in the next sign.

4. They drink even though it is causing clear problems in their life

Maybe your loved one’s relationships are starting to crumble or become tense due to their frequent intoxication. Perhaps they have lost their job because they have been absent due to too much drinking, or because they were drinking on the job. It is clear to an outsider that these issues are caused by alcohol addiction.

But to your loved one, things might seem different. Their mind will come up with excuses that result in them being convinced that the problems they’re facing have nothing to do with a drinking problem.

They might place the blame on others, or perhaps they will admit that they drink a lot but say that the problems in their life are due to some other issue. This is another sign of denial, which is, of course, a sign of Alcohol Use Disorder.

How can you help your loved one?

While you cannot make your loved one change their ways, you can help them by helping guide them towards making that change. This involves changing your perspective on your loved one’s issue, changing how you respond, approaching the situation at the right time, and providing encouragement before, during, and after the rehabilitation process.

How to bring up the subject

This can be difficult, as those suffering from addiction may become defensive or try to avoid the topic of their alcohol problem. But, while it is difficult, it is not impossible to start a conversation with your loved one about their addiction. Here are a few basic steps that will help guide you through this first nudge towards recovery:

  1. Find the proper time to start the conversation: This will be when your loved one is sober, and when both of you are calm and collected. Keep in mind that your loved one could very well become irritated or stressed out as the conversation persists, but starting out when both of you are calm increases the chances of your loved one listening despite feeling agitated later. Plus, it will help keep you from saying something in the heat of the moment that might be less than helpful
  2. Find the proper place to start the conversation: Find somewhere to speak with your loved one that is quiet and private. That way they might have an easier time opening-up
  3. Use the right tone and words: Although your loved one’s denial may cause them to respond in a negative way at first, using a tone that emphasises that you care and are concerned for them will let them know, deep down, that you are not attacking them. They may feel attacked simply due to the fact that they are having to confront an issue within themselves, but they will come to realize that this attack is not, in fact, coming from you
  4. Be encouraging: Encourage them to open up, to speak to you about what they may be struggling with. This will be hard for them, but under the right circumstances and mindset, it can be done

Behaviours to change within yourself

We cannot change others. However, there are things we can change about ourselves that can help bring about change in others. In this case, here are some things about your own behaviour that you could work on in order to help your loved one as much as you can:

  1. Let your loved one face the consequences of their actions: It is understandable to want to help someone we love out of a tough situation. However, if you continue to help your loved one avoid negative consequences of their drinking, then they will only be stuck in an even harder situation for a longer period of time. A lot of the time, an addict has to hit rock bottom before they’ll finally start to come out of denial. And, although it may be painful, we have to let them hit that point
  2. Do not blame yourself: A symptom of alcoholism is to place blame on others, and your loved one may try to blame you for their drinking, or blame you for your suspicions of their habits. Keep in mind that your loved one is not in the right mind and that their brain has been terribly affected by alcohol, and do not believe what they are saying. This is not your fault
  3. Don’t make yourself responsible for curing them: Alcoholism is a disease, that needs to be treated by a professional. While you can provide encouragement and love, do not take it upon yourself to cure your loved one. This is a weight that you cannot bear
  4. If your loved one is becoming abusive towards you, do not put up with it: While they are not entirely in their right mind, this does tie into them needing to hit rock bottom. If they are becoming abusive and causing you psychological or physical pain, then you need to separate yourself from the situation. This will often lead them to realise just how dependent they have become on alcohol and could be what is necessary to get them to seek help

How to encourage your loved one during and after the rehabilitation process

Getting into rehab is only the first step of recovery. Now, your loved one has to stay in rehab for as long as they need to. The thought of this process can be intimidating to many who suffer from addiction, and the way to help them through it is to be an encourager.

1. Join them when they go to therapy sessions or doctor’s appointments

You may not have to join them each time, but offering to go at least occasionally can make a huge difference, especially at the beginning of the process.

The start of the journey can be scary, and having a friend, family member, or partner with them can help an addict settle more comfortably into the environment in which they will start to receive psychological help.

2. Help them make a plan

Assisting your loved one in creating a plan that will keep them away from places or people that could trigger a relapse, as well as give them healthy habits to focus on, can help them on their journey to recovery. And hold them accountable. Check-in on them, make sure they are sticking to their plan and avoiding negative influences.

Alcoholism is a terrible disease, and part of what makes it so terrible is that, oftentimes, the person suffering from it will refuse to see that they have it. But with specific actions taken from a caring standpoint, you can help your loved one start their recovery journey.


Ready to get help?

To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 111 41 08