There are not many feelings worse than the helplessness felt while watching a loved one self-destruct by abusing alcohol. Frustrations can easily mount once it becomes apparent that all involved seek to help an alcoholic save for the alcoholic themselves. This is made worse still by reminders from others that the alcoholic can only help his or herself.
While true that the alcoholic themselves must take the major initiative to secure their own sobriety, there are things friends and family can do to support their loved one in their fight against alcohol addiction.
Establish Lines Of Communication
It is very important for the alcoholic to be made aware just how much his actions are hurting himself and others. It is equally important that the alcoholic also understands the concerns that loved ones have for their well-being.
It is quite possible that approaching a troubled loved one with this issue will be initially met with great resistance. Loved ones would do well to stay mindful of the desired objective to assure the conversation is productive. The objective at this time is to bring awareness to the problem and express concern.
Be Willing To Listen
It is the rare alcoholic that over drinks simply for the sake of over drinking. In most cases, drinking is a well-developed coping mechanism used to mask many pains and frustrations. When not drinking, the emotions that have been buried under years of alcohol abuse will now be uncovered. The result will quite likely be an onslaught of negative thoughts and emotions for the alcoholic. Patience is key to dealing with someone in this psychological and emotional state.
There is nothing to be gained by further battering the self-esteem of an alcoholic. It is important to remember that alcoholism is a disease and most who have not experienced this disease will have trouble understanding the behavior of alcoholics. Causing the alcoholic to feel shame will only result in him or her searching for comfort, which very likely will come from drinking.
It is probably impossible for a non-alcoholic to understand just how strong the desire is to drink in an alcoholic. Ultimatums are a terrible idea when confronting an alcoholic because many times the alcoholic will choose drinking over all else when his hand is forced. In lieu of ultimatums, offering advice and providing options will be much more productive.
Do Not Become An Enabler
There are many ways, both subtle and not so subtle, to enable an alcoholic to continue abusing alcohol. This could be providing money to drink, constantly cleaning up the messes the alcoholic makes, or simply becoming an excuse maker for the actions of the alcoholic. Tough love is key here.
Alcoholics by nature can become extremely manipulative if need be to facilitate the continued usage of alcohol. Those around the addict must disqualify themselves as vehicles that can be used to prolong this self-destructive behavior pattern.
The challenges an alcoholic will face in finding sobriety can seem like an insurmountable task. Any aid an alcoholic can get from family and friends in their efforts to stop drinking can go a long way to increase the likelihood of a victory in their struggle against their addiction.
For starters, friends and family can perform some of the legwork for their loved one. It would be a good idea to research treatment programs and find programs you think would be a good fit for the person.
Once treatment begins, it helps for loved ones to take an active involvement in the recovery process. Attending meetings with a recovering person, providing encouraging, and celebrating milestones and successes are all great ways to be a resource to the recovering person.
Also, it would help the alcoholic to know that they will have help with life responsibilities while seeking recovery. This support could be as simple as baby sitting a child while the person attends an AA meeting.
Refrain From Drinking Around an Alcoholic Loved One
It would be highly inconsiderate to drink around a loved one who has recently began the search for sobriety. This is not a lifetime ban on drinking in the person’s presence as the hopes are one day that person will no longer suffer from alcohol cravings. But in the beginning the cravings for the person will be strong and to drink in his or her presence can have terrible consequences.
Be Willing To Stay The Course
The road to conquering alcoholism will not be without bumps or curves. Setbacks are inevitable and there will be times that may cause one to question their own willingness to continue to help an alcoholic loved one. However, it is the greatest importance that the alcoholic knows that he can depend on the support of loved ones with no fear of facing abandonment.