It’s heartbreaking to watch someone you care about struggling with alcohol addiction. Knowing how to help an alcoholic isn’t easy, especially if the person denies there is a problem or rejects your attempts to help.
Are You Living with an Alcoholic?
Whether it’s your partner, parent, child, or friend, living with an alcohol-addicted person is challenging your inner peace and mental health. Before trying to help your loved one, it’s important to fully understand what alcohol use disorder (AUD) is and isn’t. It may be helpful to join a support group to learn more.
AUD is a disease of the brain. It’s not an issue of willpower or desire. Recent studies show that around 50% of the risk factors leading to alcohol addiction are attributable to genetics.
Of course, having a genetic predisposition to alcoholism doesn’t mean you’re fated to become addicted, but it does show the strong link between biology and the disease of addiction.
Understanding that your loved one’s drinking is not proof that they don’t love or respect you is key to helping them and maintaining your emotional balance.
What Is a Functioning Alcoholic?
Many people with an alcohol use disorder deny they have an addiction problem because they continue to handle their daily responsibilities. This is often referred to as being a functioning alcoholic.
Continuing to work, taking care of children, or managing day-to-day tasks doesn’t mean the person does not have an addiction. By definition, an “alcoholic” is a person who is physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol.
The ability to continue functioning at a high level doesn’t last long when someone has an alcohol use disorder. Though they may manage to handle responsibilities now, if alcohol abuse continues, their performance and health will deteriorate.
4 Practical Tips on How to Help an Alcoholic
Whether you’re living with an alcoholic or they live elsewhere, the best way (and sometimes the only way) to help is by refusing to support their addiction. Consider the following tips to prevent yourself from unknowingly supporting their behavior.
1. Don’t Cover Up Their Mistakes
It’s natural to protect the ones you love, but covering up the lies, mistakes, or poor choices of someone with alcohol use disorder only makes it easier for them to sustain their addiction.
2. Be Compassionate
Addiction strains relationships, sometimes to the breaking point. Maintaining your compassion for a person making choices that negatively affect you, your children, your financial security, and your future is understandably a challenge.
Compassion does not mean you have to accept abuse, bad behavior, or dysfunction. However, remember that the person has a disease that has taken control of their thoughts and actions.
3. Stay Healthy
Maintaining good mental health is imperative. Anger, resentment, and hurt feelings are all valid reactions, but allowing those emotions to take over your life is unhealthy.
The stronger you are, the less likely you will be manipulated or fall into the role of enabler. Seek counseling or join a peer support group for friends and loved ones of those with AUD.
4. Plan a Professional Intervention
No amount of begging, threatening, or ultimatums will convince your loved one to enter treatment, but an intervention might. Research the addiction treatment centers near you and call for information about help with an intervention.
Find Compassionate Alcohol Addiction Treatment at A Better State
Convincing a loved one to seek help for alcohol addiction may be difficult, but it doesn’t mean you are helpless. The staff at A Better State supports our patients and their loved ones throughout the recovery process.
For more information, call A Better State today at 781.412.1488. We can help.