How To Help An Alcoholic?

This is a seemingly simple question yet the answer to it is anything but simple. Figuring out how to help someone with their alcoholism will vary depending on your relationship with the effected person, the severity of their drinking, their current circumstances and a whole host of other factors. When figuring out how to get an alcoholic help the first step is typically evaluating the severity of their drinking. Are they drinking every day? How long have they been drinking? How much alcohol do they consume per day?

For a daily drinker, in most cases, the alcoholic will need the assistance of a doctor to stop drinking. This is because alcohol severe alcohol withdrawal can actually be deadly. According to research done by Harvard University, “The most dangerous form of alcohol withdrawal occurs in about 1 out of every 20 people who have withdrawal symptoms. This condition is called delirium tremens (also called DTs). In delirium tremens, the brain is not able to smoothly readjust its chemistry after alcohol is stopped. This creates a state of temporary confusion and leads to dangerous changes in the way your brain regulates your circulation and breathing. The body’s vital signs such as your heart rate or blood pressure can change dramatically or unpredictably, creating a risk of heart attack, stroke or death.”

There are many options for alcohol detoxification, many of these options are offered in an inpatient setting. For a list of alcohol detox providers, please feel free to reach out to us.

Once the alcoholic is physically stabilized if needed, or has stopped drinking, typically the alcoholic will enter a treatment program. Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center is one such program. We offer various levels of care, hours, and schedules in an attempt to accommodate the full spectrum of alcoholics and their needs.

Along with a treatment program it is recommended that alcoholics enter a self-help group. There are many options including Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, and Refuge Recovery. These are groups that meet regularly and are based on a peer support model, they are open ended and alcoholics are encouraged to attend as long they they can benefit from them. Many alcoholics in recovery stay apart of these programs indefinitely as a long term support system. Alcoholics Anonymous is the longest standing, and largest of the self-help groups mentioned. We will go into more information about Alcoholics Anonymous later.

Approaching the alcoholic about getting this process started can sometimes be the most difficult part. The approach you take when attempting to help an alcoholic stop drinking will vary based on your relationship with the alcoholic. For example how to help an alcoholic friend will differ from how to help an alcoholic spouse. How to help an alcoholic son or daughter will differ from how to help an alcoholic parent. How to help and alcoholic employee will differ from how to help an alcoholic family member.

How to help an alcoholic spouse

If your spouse’s drinking is becoming a problem in the marriage you may be wondering how you can help. This dynamic will require you to approach your spouse as an equal. You do not want to talk down to your spouse or they become defensive. Typically the first step will be communicating to your spouse that their drinking is negatively affecting you and suggesting they get help to stop drinking. If they willing it is best to get in touch with a professional who can recommend appropriate next steps. Our team here at Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center would be happy to assist. If they are unwilling or not sure if they want to stop drinking, an intervention with a professional may be necessary. If that does not work you will need to make sure you are not enabling their drinking and set boundaries related to their drinking and behavior.

How to help an alcoholic parent

This is perhaps one of the tougher dynamics to approach. Under normal circumstances, the parent is the one guiding the child but when alcoholism is involved sometimes roles are reversed. In this situation you will want to do your best to approach your parent respectfully. Try to keep in mind that having their child confronting them may be uncomfortable. The first step will be communicating to your parent how their drinking affects you and suggesting help. If they are willing, you will want to contact a professional to set up next steps. If they are not willing, an intervention with a professional may be necessary.

How to help an alcoholic son or daughter

This situation can vary quite a bit depending on a few factors. Some of the factors that will determine how to approach this are, is son or daughter legally an adult, is your son or daughter living in your home, and are they dependent on you for their basic needs financially? The first step will be to confront your son or daughter about their drinking and communicate the problems their drinking is causing and suggest professional help. If they are not willing an intervention with a professional may be necessary. If your son or daughter still is unwilling, boundaries will need to be set. It is important to make sure you are not enabling their drinking.

How to help an alcoholic friend

Depending on how close of friends you are with the alcoholic you may want to involve his or her family. If you are close friends and find yourself asking “how can I help my alcoholic friend”, keep reading. In this scenario you will want to make sure to not be heavy handed. You will want to come from a place of support and understanding as a friend. Let your friend know you believe their drinking is an issue and recommend them getting professional help. If they are unwilling you may want to consider consulting their family and or spouse about a potential intervention.


How does Alcoholics Anonymous help people deal with alcoholism?

The full answer to this question is outside the scope of this article. To sum things up, Alcoholics Anonymous is a three pronged approach to what they deem a three pronged disease. The three parts of the disease of alcoholism as seen by AA are mental, physical, and spiritual. In order to address these there are three main tenants of AA that make it work Unity, Recovery, Service. For a more detailed account of alcoholics anonymous you can refer to this study done by researchers on how and why it works.

We hope that this article has been both interesting an informative. Hopefully if you’ve made it this far you have a better grasp on how to help an alcoholic, and how to get that alcoholic help. We hope you have also gained insight on the nuances of how to help an alcoholic spouse, how to help an alcoholic parent, how to help an alcoholic son or daughter, and how to help an alcoholic friend.

If you need further guidance on assisting someone you care about with their alcoholism, please call us directly at 1-855-698-3554.