Make no mistake about it – you’re in for a very bumpy ride if all you really want to do is help a loved one fight through their alcohol addiction. It really is a matter of no good deed going unpunished here and well I’m not opening with this rather gloomy outlook to scare you, but rather just to prepare you for the reality which lies ahead.
It is some sketchy ground on which you will be walking in your quest to help a loved one through their addiction – a resolution which may not always appear to be appreciated by the loved one in question, so keep in mind that your original reason to help them is what will help you fight through all the challenges you’ll face. Don’t take it personally; in most cases it will be just another case of the alcohol talking, even long after it has “left the system,” so to say.
Highlighting the problem
This is a little bit of a stern step to take in one’s overall approach to helping their loved one try and beat their alcohol addiction, but a very necessary one nevertheless. What it does really is set the wheels into motion to get the person thinking about what is clearly a problem they have with alcohol. If they’re old enough to drink then they’re old enough to understand that they need to take responsibility, so sit them down, perhaps when they’re sober and talk to them about the problem they have. Be direct and tell them “We need to talk about how we can address your problem.”
Doing it this way (offering your help and support) instead of merely appearing to attack them through saying something like “You have a drinking problem” will go a long way in breaking down any psychological defensive barriers and help you get through to them.
The road to recovery
Best case scenario your alcohol addicted loved one will try to take control of the situation and either proactively take steps to work towards fixing it, or they’ll be willing to listen to any suggestions which you may have at hand – suggestions which you should always be ready with. Worst case scenario they put up a real fight and perhaps even entertain their addiction further, but either way, you need to present yourself as someone who has some suggestions for solutions.
Granted, you definitely won’t have all the answers, but simple gestures such as perhaps encouraging them to get in touch with the likes of Aid in Recovery – a drug and alcohol addiction support programme, will at the very least open up the door to their recovery. They many not take action right away, but at least they know there is something they can do if they’ve acknowledged their problem and are ready to get help.
Take an active role in their recovery
This is when your support means the most and this is when it will have the biggest impact. Be careful of the fact that your loved one’s desire to take action at this point might just only really be the third stage of the five stages of healing/recovery, which is bargaining as opposed to the fifth step – acceptance. Either way, don’t let the desire they show to do something about their problem slide. Take every opportunity to capitalise on it, perhaps lending your hand of support through driving them to their AA sessions, counselling, etc.
Work through the recovery tasks they might have been given with them and be that person who the professional that’s helping your loved one knows about as the supporting mechanism. After all, alcohol addiction in one of its most severe forms does indeed require professional attention.
Working through this three-step approach of subtly highlighting the problem, mapping the road to recovery and taking an active role in your loved one’s efforts to fight their alcohol addiction is your best bet at succeeding, but remember that it’s mostly just about getting things under control. You’re not necessarily trying to get them to stop drinking altogether, but rather to reduce the harmful effects which arise as a result of their drinking problem.