How to Help a Loved One with Alcoholism

How to Help a Loved One with Alcoholism
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Watching someone consumed in their own world of alcohol addiction is both devastating and heartbreaking. Alcohol addiction can destroy a person both physically, emotionally and mentally.

 You feel helpless as your loved one destroys themselves little by little with this disorder. You will also feel useless at times when you can’t put an end to their addiction. Don’t worry; there is still hope, no matter how grave you see their situation is.

 The truth of the matter is you cannot force someone to change just because you say so. Alcoholic needs to face their own demons and the strong desire to change. That willpower must come from a place of their self-discovery.

 Nevertheless, you can offer your sincerest help to them. You can show you full support as this loved one fights to change. Talking to the person is always the first step in taking the initiative to help. If you show deep concern for the person most likely they are already alcoholics or progressing to be one. There are a number of ways to help someone you love with alcohol abuse disorder.

 How to offer help

  •  Learn what Alcohol Abuse Disorder and understand what alcoholism is all about

Learning about the disorder will let you know what exactly the person is going through. You will have an idea what caused the person to turn to alcohol.  Understanding the disease is probably the most effective way of helping someone who is struggling with drinking problems.

  •  When you learn, you understand, and in that way you can show genuine empathy towards the person.

 Empathy plays an important part in the initial phase of intervention. You will easily convey you message as something that came from a place of love.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

It is also significant to know the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. This will further aid you on how you can distinguish at what phase the person is. Whether you loved one is at the early, middle or end stage of alcoholism, the list will help you recognize the symptoms. Several of the symptoms include:


  • Aggression
  • Blackouts
  • Behavioral changes which may seems more destructive
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Dizziness
  • High tolerance for alcohol
  • Loss of coordination
  • Physical dependence on alcohol


Knowing these symptoms can help you why the person does what they do. Alcoholism is far more than a social habit. Alcoholics don’t usually drink in moderation, they crave more of it.

  •  Know you cannot help someone from developing into an alcoholic.

 Heavy drinkers turn to alcohol because they feel they need to. There is an emotional need for them to do so. Sadly, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change their way of thinking. So don’t feel disappointed if you cannot change them.

 You may not change them right away but you still have a control on how you can save them from destroying themselves more. You can stop any support you are giving them just so they can drink. It may seem cruel and unsympathetic but a necessary move to control their compulsive behavior of drinking.

When you cut out the support, it means you will stop providing for them financially. Examples of these include not allowing them to manipulate you to pay for their bills and free rides.

  •  Learn how to approach the person and practice your lines

 Talking to someone with alcoholism is a very delicate matter. The most sensitive part of the approach is the conversation itself.

It is very important to stay calm at all times and genuinely expressing you concern towards the person.  This will convey the most realistic way to show them how deep your concern is for them. Let the person know that you are supportive and willing to help whenever you can to get them back to sobriety.

 Also, don’t talk to them in an accusing matter. People with alcohol abuse disorder usually deny their situation. Be prepared for any kind of response, try to avoid sounding like accusing or demoralizing. Usually alcoholics disregard this kind of approach, and you may lose the chance to try and talk them out of their addiction.

 Whatever their response, it is imperative to stay calm. Be specific and uncritical as possible. Assure them that you are coming from a place of love.

  • Suggest attending meetings or family gathering with the person, alcohol free

 Offering help to attend meetings will show you concern towards them. People with alcoholism often think that they are alone. When you go with them they might feel valued and less shameful because they have someone beside them to fully support them.

  •   Avoid talking to the person while under the influence.

 While it is tempting to confront you loved one with alcoholism, don’t do so when they are still drunk. The outcome will always be the same- horrible. You want to talk to them when they are least troubled and at least sober. The best way to do this is probably in the morning, without a glass of wine in their hands.

 Also, it is important to talk to them in private and peacefully. Try to avoid any interruptions and both of you have full attention to the conversation. Make sure you loved one is not preoccupied with other things.  In this way, no emotions are involved and have the higher chance of getting heard.

  •  Listen with honesty and care

 When talking to you loved one with alcohol abuse disorder, try not to sound like you are reading a litany. Hear them out. Expecting the person to get their lives back, without alcohol will not happen.  They need your help, and talk to them to show your honest concern and that you care.

 Talk to them how concern you are about their behavior and them let know that you care. Again, be prepare to any negative reaction, denial is a normal behavior with alcohol abuse disorder.

  •  Explore other treatments available

 It is vital that the grounds of conversation stands in a solution-based perceptive. When you initiate the conversation with your loved one, it is important you have an idea where they are coming from. You want to show them that you took time to get help from their addiction.

 Also, you loved one should also know the available treatments for them. Try to explain in full details about detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment program. Similarly, try to know the best available treatment that the patient will agree. They are the ones who are going to get these treatments, whatever they pick; you must show you full support. This involves:

  •  give guidance on how to get into treatment
  • explain the treatment options
  • find programs in your area that the person would agree

 The fact that they agree to admit their predicament and to seek help means they are on its way to sobriety. A first step to have their lives change and shows that all your efforts have paid off.

  •  Support your loved one throughout the journey

 Alcohol abuse treatment is an ongoing process. Don’t stop your involvement once you loved one agreed to undergo therapy. Offer them help like babysitting their kids or do household chores for them while they attend therapy. In this way they feel valued and less lonely if they have someone by their side.

 Guiding your loved one during therapy and after treatment plays an important part for them to stay sober. Alcohol is the most widely available substance subjected to abuse. Even after treatment, your loved one may experience relapse and may get back into drinking. Your loved one may experience the urge to drink again, and once they do, it will be the whole cycle again.

Also, get involved in their lives; let them open about what they learned in treatment or meetings. To get you loved one engage in long-term treatment doesn’t try to put them in situation like these:

  •  Do not drink around loved one  (even in social events)
  • Do not provide financial support unless for treatment
  • Do not take on their responsibilities
  • Do not tell them what you think is the best for them

 Instead try to:

  •  Get support
  • Do not try to talk to the person while under the influence
  • Always stay calm
  • Show them deep concern and empathy

 If everything else fails, try these:

  •  If the person tried to change but failed

If you loved one tried to stop drinking alcohol but miserably failed, it is best to talk about an alcohol rehab facility. Try to intervene once more and remember to stay calm and give you best effort to be patient with them.

  •  If the alcoholic refuses to go to rehab,

This involves a stricter policy you the person involved, try not to bail them out in legal and financial woes. Do not cover for their professional and personal problems. If the person lives in your house for free, try talking them out and refuse to provide for them unless they go to rehab.

  •  consider getting additional help

With all your efforts failed to convince your loved one, and then consider talking to authorities. These experts can set an intervention and help the person involved to get help.


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How to Help a Loved One with Alcoholism
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Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D. CEO

Gastroenterologist and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.

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Doctor of internal medicine, C.F.O. He is Instrumental in the success of Detox of South Florida. He is known for his cheerful, ever happy and helpful attitude.

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Doctor of internal medicine, medical director, and Nursing Supervisor. She is known for her ethical practice and expertise in the various detox protocols and programs.

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Office Management

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Director of Admissions

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Clinical Director

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Director of Operations

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