If your spouse, sibling, parent, a close friend, or relative is addicted to alcohol, some tips are coming from experts on how you can help them with their problem. Alcohol addiction, or any addiction for that matter, is a mental health issue. The person with the problem is the only one who can will himself to stop what he’s doing unless he is forced to check in to rehab or be imprisoned. According to Steve Bressert, Ph.D. , “Studies indicate that many people drink as a means of coping with modern life and its accompanying economic stress, job stress and marital discord.”
But that’s not always the case. Every situation is different, and it may require a specific approach in addressing the issue. Still, as someone who genuinely cares for an alcoholic, you can always act a certain way around the person to make him think that he is worthy of change. You can help him help himself.
Keep communication lines open.
Alcoholics are often dense, and they aren’t aware that you are concerned about them unless you say it. The whole conversation may be awkward, at first, but it must be done. It can be termed as an “intervention” or a “tough conversation.” If you want the “talk” to be dangerous, it will be referred to as the former – as an intervention. Whatever you choose, the hope here is to let the alcoholic loved one know that you are concerned for his well-being. “Do not wait for them to reach bottom, because their bottom may be jail, serious injury or death,” says Drew W. Edwards, Ed.D., MS.
Know the real reason why your loved one is drinking.
There is always a reason as to why your loved one is drinking. Is he depressed or has anxiety issues which cause the drinking? It is possible that your loved one is trying to self-medicate and he has emotional pains that he doesn’t say to you. Talk to him about it without fighting and truly listen to his response. From there, you will know what to do. If he is depressed or anxious, therapy might help.
State your examples in a non-judgemental manner.
There must be a concrete example as to why you are concerned with your alcoholic loved one. If you try to intervene and don’t have a clear “evidence” as to why you need to “intrude” on his “relaxation” style, the person will not take your words to heart.
Ultimatum will NOT work.
Giving an ultimatum to an alcoholic will not stop him from drinking. This is a fact. If you keep on threatening or fighting, it is of no use. The alcoholic will become more stressed out or frustrated and drink some more. Instead of passing on an ultimatum, gently talk to your loved one of your concern about his drinking behavior and if there is anything you can do to help. If he asks for help, you should also be armed with a list of rehab centers or counseling programs that he can attend.
Never drink around the alcoholic or enable him.
You’re not an alcoholic, yes, but drinking around an alcoholic is tempting him to consume some more of it. Be considerate and let your alcoholic loved one feel that consuming alcohol is a bad thing. Also, don’t enable your loved one to drink. Don’t bail him out of jail when he is inside for alcohol-related issues and don’t cover for him. Your alcoholic loved one will take advantage of you when you are “weak” like that, and it will also bear a harmful effect on the both of you. Don’t make him continue with his addictive state.
With love and support from non-alcoholic family and friends, people with alcohol problems can turn their life around and start anew. For Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. , “There is no shame in becoming addicted to something that is addictive. There is shame in not admitting it and letting it become the dominating driver in one’s life. Treatment is available. Treatment is often successful, especially if the family is involved.”