How To Deal With Your Loved One’s Alcoholism
Seeing a friend or family member falling into alcoholism can be frightening. As you watch the problem escalate, it might seem like there’s nothing you can do about it. You may have tried speaking to them, or even tried keeping them away from alcohol. You may have caught them unambiguously in countless lies. And yet, nothing that you've said or done has changed a thing.
The good news is there are ways you can help an alcoholic. It will be a difficult process and there is no quick fix, but others have done it before, and there are guidelines you can follow.
If you fear that a family member or friend is abusing alcohol, take the following steps.
Learn About Alcoholism
It’s all too easy to start thinking of the problem in ethical terms. Abusing alcohol is “wrong,” while getting sober is “right.” Unfortunately, alcoholism is a lot more complex than that. After all, most people struggling with alcoholism know that alcohol is causing them and their loved ones tremendous harm. Their problem isn’t a result of not knowing right from wrong.
On the contrary, alcoholism is a disease. Just as you can’t help someone with the flu if you have no knowledge or experience with it, you’ll struggle to help an alcoholic unless you know enough about it.
The internet is a trove of resources such as this one, and you can learn the basics by doing some research. This knowledge will help you identify if your loved one is definitely an alcoholic and give you a better idea of why they might be struggling with the problem.
Look to the Pro’s
Ultimately, no matter how much you are able to learn on your own, your best resources are the professionals who deal with alcoholism on a daily basis. They have seen many alcoholics through recovery, and have helped their families recover as well. They can provide the guidance necessary in such a tricky situation.
Professionals will give you further information on whether your loved one is an alcoholic. If you think an intervention is necessary in order to get your loved one into treatment, they can set it up for you. A successful intervention will lead to your loved one getting treatment – treatment that has to come from the pro’s.
One of the most important reasons to turn to professionals isn’t for their knowledge. It is because you, as a loved one, are far too close to provide what the person needs. While in normal situations, loved ones are the people we turn to for advice, when a person is trapped in an addiction, objectivity is necessary.
Seeing a loved one suffering is difficult to bear. Someone trying to get clean will inevitably suffer at some points, and you may well become an enabler while trying to help them. Furthermore, alcoholics learn to use manipulation in their pursuit of their addiction, and it is far easier to manipulate a family member or friend than a professional.
Do’s and Don’ts
Finally, we’ll leave you with some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when dealing with a loved one’s alcoholism.
Do: Offer them support
Don’t: Try to save them
Do: Show empathy
Don’t: Show pity
Do: Express your concern
Don’t: Pass judgment
Do: Lighten their burdens
Don’t: Take on all their responsibilities
Do: Help them get into treatment
Don’t: Provide financial support for anything else