How Can I Help a Loved One
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Helping a loved one struggling with an alcohol addiction can be very challenging. It is likely to be a long process, and there will be many setbacks, mistakes, and challenging conversations full of intense emotions.

However, although they may seem helpless, there are various ways you can assist them! There are hundreds of thousands of people in recovery worldwide, and your loved one has every potential to join them. It’s essential never to lose sight of hope – you could be the vital difference.


What Not To Do: Behaviours To Avoid

An excellent start is understanding what to avoid when communicating and interacting with your loved one who is dealing with alcohol addiction. For instance, you may have to change your own behaviour and alcohol use around them to help them avoid temptations or triggers.

Watch for Triggers

Often triggering is done subconsciously with little knowledge of the consequences of your actions. Triggering could be as simple as inviting a recovering addict to a house that has a lot of alcohol on display or asking them to a bar or a location that serves alcohol. It is essential to stay alert about potential triggers and try to help your loved one avoid them as much as possible.

Don’t Cover Up

This is linked with enabling, as it can allow someone to continue with their destructive behaviour. It is essential not to make excuses for your loved one dealing with the addiction. As much as you feel like you are protecting them, do not attempt to keep this information a secret from other friends and family members. Do not lend them money or bail them out of trouble – you’re only making the problem worse.

They must understand the problems associated with their alcohol misuse and take responsibility for their actions. Confronting the problem is the first step in recovery.

Covering up for your loved one’s behaviour is dangerous as it can potentially prevent them from taking responsibility and ownership of their alcohol addiction. It also enables them to continue drinking, which will cause more damage to themselves in the long run.

Offer Advice and Support

Providing continuous emotional support for your loved one will be essential for helping them through this challenging period. You may feel helpless or powerless at some points, but it is essential to remind them that you are there and avoid counterproductive behaviour such as bribing them to stop drinking, punishing them, or threatening them.

These actions will only damage your loved one, as it will increase their guilt and the likelihood of drinking again. Any attempt to exhibit these negative actions will only cause adverse effects and will not help you in the long run. ‘

It’s important not to burn yourself out, though – don’t spend all of your energy caring for others. You need to set aside time to let yourself recharge so that you can help your loved one to your maximum potential.


The Important Aspects of Boundaries

While it is essential to encourage your loved one to seek professional help in the form of treatment or counselling, it is also crucial to respect their boundaries and refrain from forcing them. Treatment will only be effective if they are open to receiving help. Ultimately, they must decide to receive help off their own accord, as this is key in the recovery process. They must realise they are in control of their road to recovery.

When communicating with your loved one, it is important to remind them of their responsibilities (such as family, work, their own wellbeing, etc.), but this should not be forceful or judgemental. All conversations should be free from judgement and come from a place of love and support.

By reminding them of their obligations and responsibilities, you will help them see that they need to take action and control the situation rather than allow things to continue. These should be given as gentle reminders, but it’s also important not to bombard them or repeat yourself too often. This could have a negative impact and might cause your loved one to persist with their destructive behaviour.

Your loved one will likely understand that your actions are coming from a loving and supportive place, but they may not be ready to accept your help. They might be in denial, and therefore, they need to be able to move past this and into the mindset of acceptance.

This can be achieved by creating a support network for your loved one so that they have people they can turn to when they are struggling, if they need advice, and if they need support. It is difficult to watch a loved one struggle and feel powerless to help them, but by consistently showing support, there is a chance that they will react positively at some point and will seek treatment and help off their own accord.


Treatment Options

When your loved one feels comfortable and ready to seek support for their alcohol addiction, their friends and family should help them as much as possible. This could entail helping them find a treatment centre or travelling down with them. For those who might also need medical support beyond addiction treatment, consulting a Trusted Endocrinologist in New Jersey can be an important step. It could also be necessary to be present and provide emotional support throughout the recovery journey so that your loved one knows they are not alone and have a support network they can rely on.

There are many valuable resources for people struggling with alcohol addiction:

  • The NHS has access to various forms of treatment, care options, and resources.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous provides a structured program that enables them to track their progress over time while also celebrating their successes with others going through the same thing
  • Famanon provides a support network of families and friends with a similar journey to yourself
  • British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) has a list of trusted therapists and counsellors in your area

Counselling and therapy are also great options as they can help individuals understand their addiction and handle their cravings, teach them how to avoid relapse in the future, take back control of their lives, and much more.

If your loved one’s alcohol addiction is very severe, it may be wise for them to receive professional treatment. If physically dependent, detoxing without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous and often cravings can seem impossible to ignore. Specialised alcohol treatment will enable your loved one to get the help they need in a safe environment, free from triggers, and surrounded by people who care.

Jason Shiers
Author / Jason Shiers / Dip.Psych MBACP
Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.

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