Living With An Alcoholic: How To Help Someone Overcome Alcoholism

Living With An Alcoholic: How To Help Someone Overcome Alcoholism

Watching your loved one struggle with alcoholism or a drinking problem can be both frustrating and painful. You may feel hopeless, especially when your attempts to help them go unappreciated or unseen. You might also be wondering if the person even needs your help.

The truth is you can’t force somebody to get help, face their demons, or admit they have a problem. It all boils down to one’s desire to change. While you might not be able to change the situation or make the decision for them, there are ways to help someone overcome alcoholism, and these include the following:

  1. Understand What Alcoholism Is

One of the best ways to help somebody dealing with alcoholism is to understand what it is. Know that there is a difference between an alcoholic and a person who occasionally drinks alcohol. You can visit and other sources online to understand alcohol addiction better and the treatment options available.

Basically, people who display signs of alcoholism can’t control their drinking. If there’s a drink or bottle in front of them, they need to finish it. They also have the following symptoms:

  • Cravings
  • Loss of coordination
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Dizziness
  • Blackouts
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • High alcohol tolerance

When diagnosed, alcoholism is referred to as alcohol use disorder. It is categorized depending on severity – mild, moderate, and severe. Every category has different symptoms and may cause dangerous side effects. If left untreated, any alcohol abuse may worsen.

People struggling with alcohol use feel that they cannot function well without consuming alcohol. It may result in various issues and can affect one’s overall health, relationships, personal matters, and professional goals. Over time, the side effects of alcoholism may worsen, resulting in damaging complications.

  1. Never Try To Communicate To Your Loved When Under The Influence Or Drinking

When trying to help your alcoholic loved one, never approach them when under the influence or drinking. If possible, approach them when they’re the least troubled. Often, the best time to talk to your loved one is in the morning.

Approach them in a private and peaceful setting. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss alcohol recovery programs, help them open up to you, and get the important message you’re carrying for them.

  1. Get Help From Professionals

If your alcoholic loved one’s life is in danger and still resistant to treatment, you should never hesitate to get professional help. Trained professional interventionists can be a crucial resource to the alcoholic and your family.

For beginners, interventionists are objective, and their judgment isn’t clouded. Since they don’t have an emotional attachment to your loved one and only desire to help, they can stay focused and calm if the situation becomes stressful. In some cases, an intervention is also what your loved one needs to make a start in recovery, regardless of how resistant they are.

  1. Avoid Enablement

When dealing with your loved one, one tricky thing to avoid is enabling their behavior. Enablement is a typical factor in codependent relationships, and as you love and care for them, ensure you’re not encouraging their alcoholism.

When helping your alcoholic loved one, avoid the following enabling behaviors:

  • Finishing tasks that your loved one was unable to do
  • Drinking with your loved one
  • Taking your loved one to a bar or buying alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid talking about alcoholism out of fear
  • Providing financial support or paying bills for your loved one
  • Paying legal fees for your loved one to bail them out
  • Lying to cover up their actions
  • Making excuses for extreme behaviors

Alcoholism is challenging, and it can be difficult to watch your loved one suffer. However, being an enabler can prevent your loved one from seeking professional help or treatment.

  1. Never Offer An Ultimatum

People with a drinking problem will always choose alcohol over other options they’re given, leading to more pain, frustration, and stress. Rather than offering ultimatums, offer options or advice for help. It means doing your homework ahead of time and knowing the different programs to refer to your loved one or being familiar with the professionals they can reach out to for help.

  1. Engage In Careful Conversations

It takes courage to seek help for alcoholism. Your loved one might not be prepared to discuss their drinking problem and admit they require treatment. In such situations, you must speak to your loved one regarding their drinking problem, encourage them to seek assistance, and how the problem affects you.

You might want to speak to healthcare providers specializing in alcoholism treatment before talking to your loved one. You might also consider writing down what you wish to discuss before approaching them. Just avoid rushing the process. Sometimes, it takes a few conversations before they seek help.

You must speak carefully and stay calm when communicating with your loved one. Avoid accusatory or harsh language because you don’t want them to feel judged or attacked. Be clear that you want to help them, explain how alcoholism affects everyone, and present some facts.

Remember that alcoholism isn’t a condition your loved one can easily control. So, be helpful, empathetic, and honest. In addition, never push your loved one too hard during the conversation and change your topic if things get uncomfortable.

Alcoholism is never an easy conversation. So, avoid confronting the alcoholic without a plan. This way, you can be sure that you’ll have a meaningful conversation.

  1. Support Their Recovery

When your alcoholic loved one takes their first step to recovery and wants to reduce their alcohol consumption, give them your support. For example, you can check in regularly and drive them to treatment. You can even offer to attend sober meetings. It’ll help them feel you’re on their team, making them feel less shameful, afraid, and alone. Therefore, showing your support and love can go a long way.

When your loved one completes the treatment, it doesn’t end there. Never presume they’re okay, and ensure they’re not isolated after the treatment.

You have to accept that recovery can be a bumpy road. It isn’t uncommon for some people with alcoholism to relapse, and it’s nobody’s fault once it happens.

While there’s no way to control relapse, there are ways you can take it. Aside from knowing the signs of relapse, removing triggers for your loved one is also helpful. For instance, avoid having alcohol in your home or don’t drink alcohol in front of them, particularly during the early stage of sobriety.

You may also find new interests together that don’t involve drinking. If you often drink to deal with stress, look for other coping techniques. For example, you can eat your favorite food instead of drinking alcohol. You may even go on a stroll or a road trip to de-stress.

Moreover, be sure to make your loved one accountable for their responsibilities and actions. This way, your loved one will be more mindful of their actions, keeping them on the right track to fully overcome alcoholism.

drunk alcoholic lain business man drinking whiskey from the bottle and glass depressed wasted and sad at home couch in alcohol abuse and alcoholism concept
  1. Look For Treatment Options In Your Area

Searching for the best professional treatment options is crucial to help your loved one overcome alcoholism effectively. Many treatment programs provide medical supervision for various withdrawal symptoms, a strong support network, and therapy sessions to help individuals with alcoholism develop healthy coping skills.

Providing your loved one with concrete options can help them deal with alcoholism successfully. Before you approach your loved one, list the different alcoholism treatment programs in your area. 

The proper treatment for your loved one may vary depending on factors such as mental health conditions, co-occurring addictions, dependence level, and attempts to quit. While selecting the best treatment for your loved one, help them decide by comparing the options.

Some of the types of treatment for alcoholism are as follows:

  • Medical Detox 

After heavy or chronic alcohol use, the initial step to recovering from alcoholism often involves a withdrawal management period or detoxification. Withdrawal symptoms may develop if your loved one has developed a physical alcohol dependence and wishes to stop drinking.

Since withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, medical detox can be challenging but vital to alcohol recovery. Generally, the process enables one’s body to remove alcohol’s toxic influence while keeping the individual as comfortable and safe as possible.

All detox facilities have their own set of protocols and plans. Your loved one’s medical detox plan may include emotional support, medications, stress management, nutrition, and complementary therapeutic approaches.

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Also referred to as day programming, PHP offers an intensive care level but in a more flexible environment than residential inpatient treatment centers. This care level enables patients to attend treatments during the day before heading back home. In PHP, patients will check in five days every week and will get four hours of group therapy regularly.

The treatment settings in most PHP centers are appropriate for people with stable living environments and strong support networks. However, a patient’s eligibility for a PHP treatment depends on the physician’s evaluation of one’s needed care. This type of treatment might not be perfect for people with severe cases of alcoholism or co-occurring disorders.

  • Residential Or Inpatient Alcohol Treatment

Residential or inpatient alcohol treatment centers offer 24-hour care and rehabilitation while providing patients access to psychiatric and on-call medical services during their stay. A residential facility differs in services and amenities, but all incorporate various recovery programs, such as coping skills education, group and individual counseling, and relapse prevention classes.

Many residential treatment facilities also provide a month or 3-month program to help patients focus on their recovery without any distraction. Depending on your loved one’s condition, a 3-month treatment program may provide the best results and help them recover from alcoholism effectively.

  • Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

An outpatient rehab facility for alcoholism may operate in various settings, including counselor’s offices, hospital clinics, residential rehab centers, or community mental health clinics. The treatment times may vary throughout the week and can be limited on weekends.

The attendance requirements may also differ by program. While others may offer daily sessions, some may only have meetings twice or thrice a week.

With outpatient alcohol treatment, patients can live in their homes, enabling a level of flexibility that most people have to fulfill, especially at work. However, those participating in an outpatient treatment program will require a stable home environment free from drugs and alcohol to ensure a successful recovery.

  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

It focuses on dependencies or disorders that don’t require detoxification or 24-hour supervision. Such programs will let patients continue their everyday lives and won’t require much time weekly in therapies, unlike other treatment programs. IOPs are also designed to help patients manage relapse, establish support mechanisms, and provide coping strategies.

Even if patients can initially go through a medical detox phase, they can move into this treatment level as they progress through their recovery programming. IOPs also require that one’s home environment be drug-free or alcohol-free and have a support system. Sometimes, they’re used after completing an inpatient program to ease the transition back to one’s daily life.

Those are some of the many treatment options your loved one can consider. While they are beneficial, not all may fit your loved one’s needs. To make the right choice, seek help from professionals.

  • Ibogaine for Alcoholism

Ibogaine, a naturally occurring substance found in the root bark of the African Tabernanthe iboga plant, has been gaining popularity in recent years as a potential treatment for alcoholism. This powerful psychoactive compound has been used for centuries in traditional African spiritual practices, but it has only recently caught the attention of Western researchers and addiction specialists.

One of the most promising aspects of ibogaine for alcoholism is its ability to interrupt the cycle of addiction by resetting the brain’s reward system. When someone becomes addicted to alcohol, their brain’s pleasure centers become wired to crave the substance, leading to compulsive use and a host of negative consequences. Ibogaine works by binding to certain receptors in the brain and triggering a flood of neurochemicals that reset this reward system, essentially wiping the slate clean and giving the individual a chance to break free from their addiction.

Another benefit of ibogaine is its potential to address the underlying emotional and psychological issues that often drive alcoholism. Many people turn to alcohol as a way to cope with stress, trauma, or other mental health challenges. Ibogaine has been shown to induce profound introspection and self-reflection, allowing individuals to confront and work through these underlying issues in a safe and supportive environment.

Of course, like any medication or treatment, ibogaine is not a silver bullet for alcoholism. It should only be used under the guidance of a trained medical professional in a controlled setting. Additionally, there are risks associated with ibogaine use, including potential cardiac complications and interactions with other medications. However, for those who have tried traditional treatment methods without success or who are looking for an alternative approach to overcoming their addiction, ibogaine could be a powerful tool for reclaiming their lives and their health.

  1. Listen With Compassion

If your loved one has a drinking problem, one of the best things you can do is to be open and listen with compassion. Tell them you’re worried about their drinking habits and that you’re willing to help if they want to change. However, change is difficult, so you should be prepared to face an adverse reaction.

Some people with alcoholism are in denial and might not react angrily to your attempts. Never take it personally. Instead, give them space and time to make wise decisions and listen to everything they say.


Alcoholism can be defeated. When trying to help your loved one overcome alcoholism, always see beyond the alcoholic and focus on the real personality of your loved one.

Follow the above ways to help support your alcoholic loved one in many ways, but don’t forget that you can’t force anyone to change. Your loved one must also be ready to change their path. If your attempts don’t work, you might want to contact an interventionist to help you know more about the other options for your loved one.

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