How to Help an Alcoholic

Understanding how to help an alcoholic quit drinking will enable you to take the right steps to intervene and get a family member or friend to seek treatment. Here is the stand you need to take.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Aug 7, 2018
Friends Night Out
Alcohol is a strong addiction, and any assistance an addict receives helps further the recovery process.
The support of family and friends plays a significant role in this process. However, most people are unsure of what they can do to help any addicted family member or friend, and so very often they choose not to say anything at all.
The first step is to understand the addiction. Reading literature about it or visiting a treatment center for related information will also help you confirm if the said friend or family member is, in fact, an alcoholic.
Many of those who have an addiction are in denial or find it difficult to ask for or accept help, meaning that you have your work cut out for you. Understand that there are no hard-and-fast rules of helping an addict, for each person is different. Every alcoholic's needs and responses differ and so do his reasons for drinking and his readiness for treatment.
What to Do?
The first step is being sure that the person in question is addicted. If there are clear addiction signs, then you need to contact someone who can help, such as a mental health center, Alcoholics Anonymous, or a family physician. These people are accustomed to dealing with addicts and are equipped to talk to one about his/her problem and treatment.
If a person is a family member, you could hold an intervention, where each member can tell the alcoholic how his/her drinking affects each of them. You can do the same with an addicted friend, as well. However, make sure that you do this when a person is sober, and also do it in a manner that doesn't seem like an attack.
Alcoholic man lying
Studies have shown that, for every person with an alcohol or other drug addiction, at least four others are affected by his/her behavior.
If you are among the four, you need help too. Speak to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other mental health professional to help you deal with the stress of the addiction, and you could also join a support group for family members/friends of alcoholics.
What Not to Do?
Couple Holding A Glass Of Cocktail
In trying to help a person who has become an alcoholic, covering up for the person is a bad approach, and it constitutes enabling.
If you help and support him physically (with work and chores), then financially, you are actually making the problem worse, as he can focus entirely on alcohol and not has to take responsibility for his own actions. It is important to find the right balance between being supportive and coddling the person.
Other things you should not do is trying to use emotional blackmail to get him to stop. Among the guidance given for this purpose, you should never say, "If you really love me, you'll stop drinking," or "I'll leave you if you don't stop drinking," as a means to get him to quit.
For the parents of an alcoholic, it is not advisable to keep the person away from friends construed as bad influences, or locking him/her in the room. Other ineffective measures include hiding all the alcohol in the house and cutting off his allowance. Trying to reason with an addict also does not work.
What all this boils down to is that one must not make or try to help an alcoholic quit on his/her own. The best way of helping a person to quit the habit is to get him/her treatment at a facility meant for the purpose. It is very difficult for an addict to quit on his/her own, and trying to threaten or coerce the person to do so will end in failure.