Supporting Someone Who Struggles with Alcohol Addiction

addiction support

According to Talbott Recovery: More than 15 million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder in the United States, but less than eight percent of those receive treatment. It can be difficult to watch a friend or family member struggle with Alcohol addiction.

As psychologists, we have seen the effects alcohol can have on families & relationships. Some family members of alcohol abusers may feel like it is their fault. However, every person makes their own decisions and you cannot make anyone do anything. There are many reasons & risk factors why people turn to alcohol- such as genetics, emotional/relational issues and mental health issues like depression. Regardless of the reason, it is important for that person to reach out to get the help they need. You cannot make that person seek help but you can support them as they move in that direction.

Steps to Support a Loved One Who Struggles with Alcohol Addiction

Educate yourself on Alcohol Use Disorder: Get familiar with the symptoms and warning signs of alcoholism. Find out if the person who is struggling has alcohol use disorder. For example, not every person who binge drinks is an alcoholic. Also, there are several stages a person may go through who is struggling. The more you know about alcohol addiction, the more equipped you will be.

Consider your Word Choice: Think carefully about what you will say to your loved one who is struggling. Remember that one of the 12 steps of AA is acceptance and many who are struggling deny there is an issue. The less combative you can be with your words the better. Use “I statements” instead of “You statements.” Try not to be presumptuous or negative. Also, try not to take their response to the conversation in a personal way. A person will only get help if they want it for themselves.

Do not Give up Hope: Even if when you approach the person and they are not ready to seek help, do not stop trying. Do not be pushy but when you feel the time is appropriate, discuss it again. This process can become discouraging at times. Join a support group and or seek help from a professional to help you on this challenging journey. Try not to enable the person struggling with money and familiarize yourself with the signs of codependency; which can be common when in a relationship with anyone who struggles with addiction.

Support them on their Journey through Recovery: When your loved one has decided they are in need of treatment, stand with them. Offer your support as they chose a treatment center, go with them to their support groups and tell them how proud you are of them throughout their journey. Be aware that not everyone who seeks help will get through recovery the first time around. Know that once they start treatment it will be challenging for them and they need all the support and community they can get.

Recovery does not mean a finish line but a road they must continue to walk on making the right decisions throughout their life. If you are looking for more resources to help on this topic, check out our helpful resources page and follow us on our Facebook page.