Do you think your loved one is struggling with a drinking problem? You are not alone.
Over 14.5 million people in the US suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), often called alcoholism, and the person with AUD, an alcoholic. It is a compulsion for alcoholic drinks, with physical and psychological dependence.
And it does not just impact the alcoholic. Alcoholism also hurts the lives of others around them. It is natural to go through a range of emotions, such as anger and hopelessness, but your role does matter.
So, what can you do to support your loved one? There are different ways you can help them overcome alcoholism. Carers often play a pivotal role in a person’s recovery.
Keep reading this guide for ways you can help support your loved one; every step of the way.
Learn the Signs
A study found over half the US population had reported drinking alcohol in the 30 days prior. But even for many who heavily drink (also called binge drinking), they do not have AUD.
So, what constitutes alcoholism?
It would help if you learned about alcoholism. It will not only help when your loved one is in the first stages of recovery. It will also help you recognize relapse signs.
Also, learn about alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be disturbing for someone unaware. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include nausea, headaches, seizures, and hallucinations.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include nausea, headaches, seizures, and hallucinations.
Some warning signs of alcoholism include:
- Regularly binge drinking (for women, over four alcoholic drinks, for men; over five)
- Not being able to drink in moderation
- Lying or covering up drinking
- Self-medicating for stress, or mental health problems
- Blackouts and not remembering behavior
- They continue to drink alcohol despite problems
- Neglecting other responsibilities to drink
- Behavior changing
Some carers go into denial initially or find excuses for someone’s behavior. This is natural, but the sooner you confront the problem, the better.
Talk to Your Loved One
It can feel challenging to talk to your loved one. But it is an essential step for their recovery.
You can practice what you want to say beforehand. Focus on your love for the person and specific concern. For example, ‘I love you. I am concerned with how much you are drinking and how it is impacting your health’.
Avoid accusations. Addiction fuels isolation. So show you are there for them and allow them a space to express how they are feeling right now.
Do not take adverse reactions personally. Recovery from addiction is in stages, and they need first to accept they have a problem.
Even during difficult times, allow open space to talk. And let your loved one know you are here to listen. Once they seek help, a therapist can also help with this.
Stage an Intervention
Sometimes, carers have to intervene to help a person on their recovery journey. If you have spoken to your loved one, but they remain incredibly resistant to help. Maybe their behavior has not changed, or perhaps it is getting worse.
An intervention involves planning as you need to present treatment options. You can get other family, friends, or co-workers together to confront the individual.
You can also have a therapist help guide the meeting. The goal is to get them to accept they have an issue but feel supported to get help.
Interventions you present depending on the individual, their circumstances, and the extent of their problem. An alcohol detox program, intensive residential treatment, therapy, or outpatient treatment, are options.
You can offer your support but also set boundaries and consequences if they do not seek help. An example could be to take away their car.
Another treatment option could be Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Some people can cut down their drinking independently. But if they are in denial and an intervention is needed, they need professional help.
Support Their Recovery
Offer to support your loved one. You could drive them to treatment and check-in regularly. If they attend an inpatient program, visit them if they want. Showing your love and support will go a long way.
Once a person completes treatment, it is not the end of their journey but the start. Do not presume they are okay, and make sure they are not isolated.
You also need to accept recovery is a bumpy road. It is not uncommon for people with alcoholism to relapse. It is no one’s fault if this happens.
While there is no way to control relapse, there are some steps you can take.
Along with knowing the signs of relapse, it helps remove any triggers for the individual. They can discuss personal triggers. Do not have alcohol in the home, or drink alcohol in front of them, especially early into their sobriety.
You can also find new interests together that do not involve drinking. If drinking was to deal with stress, find other coping techniques.
Also, avoid any enabling behaviors, such as throwing away their bottles. The person needs to be held accountable for their actions and responsibilities.
Take Care of Yourself
To help others, you have to take care of yourself. Carers are superheroes, but they also need support. There are carer support groups, and treatment centers often provide carer support. Therapy is another option.
Even steps such as having a self-care day, or meeting with friends, can make a world of difference.
Overcome Alcoholism Together
Alcoholism can and is defeated. See beyond the alcoholic, and remember your loved one. They are still there.
You can support your loved one in many ways. But remember, you cannot force them to change; they have to be ready. It is not your fault, so please do not blame yourself.
Your love, and presence alone, helps so much. Follow these steps for more guidance, and know you are not alone.
Our treatment center is based in Costa Mesa, Orange County. We have a variety of programs to help your loved one, including residential and detox. Contact us today for more information.