How to Help an Alcoholic

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Figuring out how to help an alcoholic can be a delicate and daunting effort. Alcohol dependence damages every area of the alcoholic’s life including relationships, career, and health. Too often family members live in constant hurt, fear, and desperation as they watch a loved one destroy themselves in their disease. Much of that desperation stems from not knowing how to help their loved one.

However, there are a number of ways that friends and family members can help lead their loved one into recovery. You can be proactive in helping your loved one while maintaining the necessary boundaries. The following guidelines can ensure a healthy approach to helping an alcoholic:

Get Educated

Educating yourself on the complex disease of alcoholism and understanding your role in the treatment program can increase the odds for a successful recovery. When it comes to understanding alcoholism, many family members still have dangerously misinformed perceptions and fears. This can intensify all of the toxic emotions and reactions that alcoholism causes. Family participation and support is essential during a loved one’s treatment and even more important to sustain long-term recovery. Stigma not only puts up barriers for loved ones to be successful in treatment and recovery, it prevents families from healing and from being successful partners in their own recovery. Seek out expert information and construct a list of reliable resources on alcoholism, addiction, treatment, and recovery. Dive into public health studies, community awareness coalitions, policy, news coverage, medical research, and personal testimonies.

Offer Support

Rather than harming your own mental health with unyielding stress and anxiety, speak up and seek help. Share your concerns with your loved one. Find a treatment center that would be a good fit for him/her and learn about the process and what to expect. Use the information to help make your case for treatment. Most importantly offer your support to help them during and after treatment. The family member will have excuses and express denial or anger. Be prepared with specific examples of behavior that has resulted from their alcohol dependence. These conversations may take place several times until the loved one agrees to seek help. Be patient with your support.

Show Compassion

Treatment and family support are essential for successful recovery from alcoholism. Once the disease manifests, powerful negative feelings drive the addiction to alcohol and other substances. These feelings typically include shame, guilt and worthlessness. It is important to understand that when your loved one is living in their addiction, they have almost no self-worth. Expressing your love and care for them while also pressing your case for treatment is essential. You do not have to wait for your family member to hit rock bottom. You can intervene now. Either way, they most likely will not seek treatment without your help.

Be Engaged

Once your member completes treatment, the recovery process truly begins. Long-term recovery is a lifelong journey for your loved one and the family as a whole. Remain energetic in your support of their recovery plans, which should include continuing care, sober living, a 12 Step program such as A.A. and related recovery activities. Taking an active role in the treatment process and creating a nurturing environment for your loved one when they return home can help speed recovery and reduce the risk of relapse.

Practice Self Care

Actively engaging in supportive resources and practicing self-care can empower family members to rebuild and renew healthy, loving and supportive relationships with loved ones in recovery. The work loved ones put in to achieve and maintain recovery requires hope, support, ongoing engagement and renewal. Family members, for their own well-being, must also be willing to put in the work to help overcome the pain and broken trust that alcoholism causes. To help ensure the family unit as a whole receives the care needed to be successful; Valley Hope offers a variety of services for family members at our residential and outpatient treatment facilities.

At Valley Hope, we have witnessed the devastating toll alcoholism has on relationships. However, we firmly believe that by embracing patients with compassion, treating them with proven therapies and empowering them with the tools to respect themselves, they can learn to manage their illness, repair their relationships and reclaim their lives.

Our counselors will work with you and your family member to develop the most appropriate treatment for his or her needs. We offer a continuum of care including residential or outpatient treatment and online access to therapy. We also offer special services for family members including counseling, education and group therapy.

If your family member is reluctant to seek treatment, we also offer tours of our facilities that can often help ease much of the anxiety and misconceptions of what entering treatment really looks and feels like.

A life full of hope and health is possible for your loved one. It is not only possible but also probable with a strong support system, a tailored treatment program, and smart recovery plan. Let Valley Hope help make it happen.

To learn more, call us anytime at 1-800-544-5101 or visit