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Dealing with an alcoholic

We understand that trying to help someone with an alcohol addiction can be overwhelming. From getting the person to acknowledge their challenges to supporting them through alcohol rehab, it is an emotionally demanding position to be in.

If you know someone who is struggling with their alcohol use, it’s so important to try and help them address their problem. Your support can be valuable in enabling that person to take the next steps towards recovery. When someone has lost the ability to control their alcohol intake, professional treatment is their best option to turn things around and embark on a better life ahead.

Read more about how to help someone with alcoholism to the best of your ability and how to make sure you take care of your own wellbeing at the same time.

When to start a conversation around alcoholism

It can be difficult knowing the right time to raise the subject of someone’s drinking. You may be wondering whether you should bring it up at all. How do you know for certain that they’ve lost control if they’re hiding the problem, or even denying it? There’s only one way in which you can, and that’s through starting a conversation.

If you’ve noticed that the person is displaying even a couple of signs which indicate that they could be struggling with an alcohol addiction, try to say something as soon as possible. Otherwise, their drinking may continue to worsen, which could cause their health to deteriorate further.

Before you talk to them, make sure you familiarise yourself with the symptoms of alcohol addiction, so that you’re well-informed.

And, don’t let fear of their reaction stop you. Even if they don’t react exactly as you might hope, you’ll have shown that you care and opened up the gates of communication. This is absolutely crucial.

How to talk to someone with alcohol addiction

Start by making it clear that you’re worried about them. You’re concerned that they might be struggling with alcohol and you want to help. Gently communicate how you’ve been feeling, and the impact that their drinking has had on you lately.

Let them know that you’ll be there for them if they’ll let you, helping them to get what they need to improve their health and happiness. If there have been troubling incidents stemming from the person’s drinking, talk about the effect that their behaviour is having on those around them. If they’re in denial, this is especially important as it can help the person to recognise the impact they are having on others.

It can help to sit down and plan exactly what you want to say in advance, either writing it down or rehearsing the words out loud. Prepare yourself for what the other person may come back with, as some of it may be negative; but don’t take this personally. Try to remain calm and let them know that you understand they may be feeling hurt and afraid, but you’re not here to judge them and you only want to help them get better.

Tell the other person that you strongly recommend that they get an assessment for alcohol addiction, so that they can get a professional recommendation of the next steps to take. However, give them time to decide what they want to do next, so that they can have the space to let what you’ve said sink in.

With a little perspective, they can consider the impact of their actions and how best to move forward. They should be able to see that you have their best interests at heart and this may leave them more receptive to the idea of getting help with your support.

Supporting someone through treatment for alcohol addiction

When the person has decided to access professional treatment, there are a number of ways you can continue to be a source of support for them. For example, you may want to help them arrange their first appointment or accompany them to an initial assessment or therapy session.

If the person undertakes a residential programme, just being on the end of the phone when they want to talk is important, as when someone is going through treatment, they will be working through difficult issues. They may also appreciate meeting up to spend time together every so often, especially if they’re trying to navigate new ways of socialising without the aid of drinking.

Helping someone through their ongoing recovery from alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is most effectively addressed with rehabilitation but a person’s recovery journey isn’t complete once the programme ends. Sobriety is an ongoing process that involves commitment every single day.

When a person is working on their sobriety, the support of those around them is important. They will continue to benefit from your encouragement and your contact as they continue trying to lead a life free from alcohol.

There are additional ways that other people can provide this support. Support groups give people the opportunity to speak with those who have common experiences and challenges, which can be incredibly powerful.

A comprehensive aftercare programme also gives people in recovery the vital benefit of ongoing professional help. This is a valuable coping tool as they readjust to being back home and the potential triggers of their day-to-day routine. At Manor Clinic, aftercare is free for life.

The importance of taking good care of yourself

When you’re focusing so much on someone else’s health and happiness, there has to be a careful balance. You need to look after yourself along the way and exercise some boundaries. This is particularly necessary if the person is not ready to face their problems or doesn’t want to be helped. Remember to prioritise self-care and do the things that you enjoy as much as possible. In turn, this will help you to be a better source of support for the other person, as you will feel emotionally capable and physically healthy.

For more details please call 023 8046 4721 or click here to book a FREE CONFIDENTIAL ADDICTION ASSESSMENT. Alternatively, you can enquire online and one of our team will get back to you via your preferred contact method.  

COVID-19 Update

We continue to accept admissions into our treatment programmes but are adopting screening protocols through the pre-admission process. In order to protect our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19, we have temporarily suspended family visits to those within our services. All patients will be supported to speak to their family over the phone and via video calls wherever possible.

This blog was reviewed by Sarina Wheatman, (Emotional Freedom Technique Master Practitioner (EFT), Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) NCAC), Addiction Treatment Programme Manager at Manor Clinic.

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