How To Help An Alcoholic: 10 Things To Do If Your Loved One Has A Problem

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Jane Taylor in Life style

21 January 2020, 05:16 GMT

Figuring out how to help an alcoholic is one of the most gut-wrenching things a person can go through.

Addiction is a dangerous health problem, and it’s something that isn’t fixed with medication, doctor’s appointments, and a diagnosis. It’s only fixed when the person who suffers from addiction decides they are ready to get the help they need. How to help an alcoholic is something almost everyone who knows someone with addiction asks, and it’s terrifying.

If you’re looking for answers to help someone you love to face, conquer, and manage addiction, then you’ve come to the right place. Learning how to help an alcoholic requires strength and patience. There is not a quick fix for someone who suffers from addiction, and that means you’re going to face just as many challenges as you do triumphs.

Every addict has their own needs, and everyone will face a different challenge. While there is not a step-by-step process that will help you help your loved one overcome addiction, there are tips that can help you along the way. Learning how to help an alcoholic is a learning experience from start to finish for everyone, but these tips can help you minimize the missteps you take.

About Alcoholism

One of the first steps you can take while learning how to help an alcoholic is to learn as much as you can about alcoholism. First, it is no longer called alcoholism. It is now referred to in the medical community as alcohol use disorder, or AUD. It’s a pattern of abuse that involves using alcohol. A person who suffers from this form of addiction uses alcohol regularly. Many people who suffer from addiction are in denial about their health issues, and others often have no idea they have an addiction.

What Is AUD?

AUD is when you are addicted to alcohol. The common misconception is that you must be falling over drunk, slurring your speech, and unable to function to be an alcoholic, and if you don’t do these things, you are just fine. That’s not the truth. If you drink more than one to two alcoholic beverages every day, you are an addict. If you drink more than four to five drinks in two hours or less when you do drink, you suffer from AUD. If you find that you have to drink more and more to get the same effect you once got from having one or two drinks, you have a problem.

Functioning Alcoholics

As previously mentioned, you don’t have to be a ‘classic’ drunk as they are depicted in television shows, movies, and books. While there are some people whose dependency is so high that they cannot function, many people are labeled as functioning alcoholics. This means they get up, they go to work, they care for their kids and lives, they own homes, have a social life, and much more. They look and act just like everyone you know, but they are suffering from addiction you cannot see.

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Signs & Symptoms

It’s not always easy to see the signs and symptoms of alcoholism unless you spend a lot of time with the person who is suffering from this health issue. However, your part of learning how to help an alcoholic involves being aware of some of the signs so you can look for them. Everyone with an addiction is different, but many people do exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Lacking the ability to limit the amount they drink
  • Being unable to stop drinking
  • Being unable to cut back
  • Spending ample time recovering from a hard night of drinking
  • Having the urge to drink alcohol often and daily
  • Continuing to drink even when they know it’s affecting their lives
  • Drinking in secret
  • Having an alcohol tolerance that increases
  • Sweating, shaking, vomiting, and experiencing other withdrawal symptoms when they don’t drink

People who don’t know they have a problem with alcohol might also deny that they have a problem. They might drink secretly and then lie about it. They might drink more than a few beverages and pretend that they’ve only had one or two. They might drink and drive regularly even though they know better. These are people who drink regularly and heavily. It’s dangerous, and they are putting their own lives and the lives of everyone else on the road with them at risk.

Sometimes the signs are subtle. Sometimes they are bold. Either way, noticing them is one of the best ways to learn how to help someone with alcoholism. Your loved one might not exhibit all of these signs. They might exhibit a few, or they might even show other signs of alcohol abuse. Your job is to know what to look for and how to help.

How to Help an Alcoholic - 10 Ways

The process of learning how to help an alcoholic involves learning what to do and what not to do. The best way to help someone you love is to be kind and calm while also remaining firm. It won’t happen all at one time, and you must understand that there will be many disappointments along the way.

1. Don’t Place Blame

The most important thing you can do when learning how to help an alcoholic is to avoid placing blame. This is not your fault. It is not their fault. It is no one’s fault. Playing the blame game is not something that works for anyone.

2. Do Talk about It

You can’t avoid the conversation forever, and you do want to talk about it. The key here is to talk about what you feel and how you worry without placing blame. Do it with a calm demeanor and be sure you don’t talk down to the person you love.

3. Don’t Take Things Personally

There will be broken promises and false truths along the way to recovery. Your loved one will tell you he or she will try to stop or that they want to stop, and they might not do that. They might fall short. They might disappoint you. Just remember they are also disappointing themselves.

4. Do Tell Them You Love Them

Do tell your loved one that they are important to you and that you love them no matter what. They need to know that you aren’t going to give up on them when they fail. They need to know that you are there for them and love them through this entire process.

5. Don’t Help Cover Things Up

If your loved one is an alcoholic, don’t enable them. Don’t make excuses for them or help them hide their problem. Make them deal with their own issues and don’t make the problem easier on them. This is one of the toughest things you will do, but you cannot enable an addict.

6. Do Get Rid of All Alcohol in the House

If you live with an addict, you need to get rid of all the alcohol in your home and stop drinking with your loved one. You cannot sit down with a glass of wine and drink it in front of someone who is struggling with addiction. Your loved one will reach a point in recovery where they can be around people who drink, but this is not the time when you are trying to help them start the process of recovery.

7. Don’t Force Anything

Do not force your loved one to go to rehab or do anything they are not ready to do. Instead, ask them what they want, how they want to get help, and what their goal is. Then offer suggestions, but do not force anyone to do anything.

8. Do Provide Options

Your loved one might not know what to do now. They might not know how to handle their issues or where to go to get help. Your job is to provide options. Show them some rehab centers. Go to a meeting with them. Take them to the doctor.

9. Don’t Talk Yourself Out of Helping

It’s easy to try to talk yourself out of helping when your loved one is making things difficult. You don’t want to upset them or have them get mad at you, but that’s what has to happen in some situations. They have to know that you are going to be there for them while also remaining firm in your position. Don’t worry about their feelings to the point that you stop helping.

10. Do Call Out Unacceptable Behavior

Your loved one needs to know when their behavior is unacceptable. Do not allow them to drive with the kids in the car, without the kids in the car, or at all. Do not allow them to stay out all night drinking and making you worry and then hug them in relief and brush it off when they get home. Call them out. Be respectful, but make sure they know what they are doing to you, too.


Learning how to help an alcoholic is something you must-do if you need to help a loved one who is suffering. It’s challenging, but your loved one might need you to help them when they are unable to help themselves. It takes a village, and sometimes you have to take the hard road and be the person who helps your loved one recover. It is possible.

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