It can be terrifying to watch a person you love struggling with active, chronic addiction. Whether you’re suffering from a substance use disorder yourself or watching it occurring in another, you may eventually find yourself losing hope that there is any way to vanquish this devastating, life-threatening disease permanently. The truth is, however, there is no cure for alcoholism. But it is very possible to effectively treat it and manage it when the right tools are available.
If you are someone close to an alcoholic, you likely have a significant impact on his or her life. Although you cannot save this person yourself, you can encourage him or her to seek help and support them through the recovery process. The following are several tips that can help an alcoholic accept they have a problem and make the decision to seek professional treatment.
Confronting an Alcoholic
People have many preconceived notions about how to help those struggling with addiction, and you may have been told that an addicted person needs to hit “rock bottom” before they are motivated enough to make a change. Others still adhere to the outdated idea that addiction is a moral failing or matter of sheer willpower alone, and unless the individual decides to “just say no,” there is nothing you can really do but stand by and watch.
However, oftentimes, these persons have not themselves experienced or witnessed severe addiction unfold firsthand. The reality is that many millions have had great success in recovery programs, even if they initially resisted treatment or never fell to what might be considered “rock bottom” or the ultimate worst point in the disease.
Most people intuitively know when the adverse effects of alcohol abuse have become apparent in a person’s life. Consequences may include mental and physical health issues, relationship conflicts, poor work or academic performance, and financial or legal problems.
Addiction is a very sensitive subject in general. But to the person suffering, the very word itself may be a personal affront to their feelings, and they may become defensive and steadfast in their denials. When preparing for the initial discussion, there are several critical elements to consider:
Use a Careful Approach
Before confronting your loved one, remember to keep your attitude in check. As frustrating as this individual may be, you have to remember that addiction is a complex, chronic disease that tends to accompany other mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and low self-worth.
Negative talk about personal failures should be avoided, and instead, the focus should be on expressing love and concern. They need to know that others, such as yourself, are there to support them in any recovery endeavors and that you are doing this because you care profoundly about their emotional and physical health and well-being.
Research Treatment Options
If a loved one seems unmotivated to face their issues with addiction, it’s up to you and others to begin researching treatment options for them. Alcohol recovery typically begins with detox, but this process can be dangerous to do at home. If a person has been drinking excessively for an extended period, withdrawal symptoms can be severe and life-threatening. Therefore, it’s safest to undergo medical detox in a clinical environment capable of monitoring the person’s health throughout the alcohol withdrawal process.
After an individual has completed detox, they should immediately be transferred into an addiction treatment program. Ideally, this would be a residential or partial-hospitalization program, but, in some instances, outpatient treatment may be prudent.
When researching options, look for a licensed, accredited facility that offers comprehensive, personalized treatment and evidence-based services that include behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness education, and aftercare planning. If the detox unit is separate from the long-term treatment center, it should ensure a smooth transition between the two programs and provide transportation, if needed.
Stage an Intervention
An intervention may be beneficial for the alcoholic who continues to deny or deal with their issues despite clear evidence of a problem. An intervention is a structured conversation in which the person’s closest friends and family gather in support and attempt to persuade him or her to seek help. The intervention process is often facilitated by a professional, such as a therapist or counselor, who works to keep the conversation productive and promote the best outcomes for all.
During preparation for such an event, would-be participants are often understandably worried that the individual will lash out, and their relationships with the loved one will become even more strained. This is possible, but remember that interventions can be beneficial when they are approached and planned correctly. For this reason, an ample amount of careful preparation is needed to ensure the person is relatively comfortable and will not be subject to vilification or feel “ganged up on.”
If Necessary, Step Back
It’s not hard to get swept up in the turmoil of your loved one’s alcohol abuse problem, but you must remember to also take good care of yourself and others who count on you. You can support the individual throughout the recovery process while also understanding it is not your job to save them. You can encourage him or her and offer some tough love, but, in the end, he or she must take responsibility for their own decisions. And, regardless of what factors have contributed to their addiction, above all, remember that it’s not your fault.
One of the best things you can do is learn as much as you can about addiction and alcoholism. Read and share articles, books, and information with friends and family members. The goal is to achieve a well-rounded perspective about what addiction really is—a disease—and not just a physical ailment but one that is borne of a multitude of emotional and spiritual matters, in many cases.
Others who have gone through similar issues can also be a good source of knowledge and advice. For example, you may want to consider attending Al-Anon—free group meetings that serve as support for family and friends who are actively dealing with a loved one’s alcoholism.
Keep Emotions in Check
Watching a person you love continually suffer can result in feelings of utter powerlessness and frustration. However, when you are talking to an addict or alcoholic, you can not let your personal pain control the conversation. Emotional appeals, such as those related to much harm this person has done to you or others, can exacerbate their own negative feelings and sense of self-worth and increase their motivation to drink or engage in other forms of self-harm.
Don’t Cover for the Alcoholic or Drink With Them
Every person, even those with addiction, must be required to take responsibility for their own actions. You should not make excuses for them, take on their obligations, lend them money, or pay their bills. These are enabling behaviors that will ultimately allow the person to continue their active addiction with fewer obstacles.
Also, you should avoid drinking with an alcoholic. Any action that appears to condone their behavior may be taken as a sign that the problem is not as serious as it is.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers care for and supports patients in recovery using a comprehensive approach that tailors treatment to the individual. Call us today to discuss treatment options and find out how we can help your loved one break free from the chains of addiction and get a new lease on life!