7 Ways to Support a Recovering Alcoholic
It is never easy seeing a loved one go through something like addiction and sometimes we don’t know how to help. Here are 7 ways to support a recovering alcoholic.
There are about 17 million Americans dealing with alcohol use disorder at this time. Additionally, about 10 percent of all Americans are currently recovering from a drug or alcohol problem.
Those numbers suggest that you will, at some point, know a recovering alcoholic. You might even know one now and be doing your absolute best to provide them with the support they need.
If you don’t have any formal training when it comes to supporting a recovering addict, you might struggle to do it. You might even inadvertently make things worse if you say or do the wrong things while a person is on the road to recovery.
Here are 7 ways you can successfully support a recovering alcoholic and help them through their darkest days.
1. Learn Everything You Can About Alcoholism
How much do you really know about alcoholism?
If you grew up in a household with an alcoholic in it or if you yourself have dealt with alcoholism in the past, then you might know a lot about it.
But if you don’t have much experience with it, you might not have the faintest clue what a recovering alcoholic is going through. It’s easy to think, “They should just the bottle down and stop drinking,” when you don’t have any idea how hard that actually is.
You should learn more about alcoholism by:
- Reading books on the subject
- Looking around online for articles on it
- Speaking with an addiction specialist about it
- Enrolling in a support group for the families and friends of addicts
- Asking the addict in your life about it
All of this will make it easier for you to talk to a recovering alcoholic.
2. Let Them Know You’re Willing to Talk Any Time
Life can be very lonely for a recovering alcoholic.
When things are good, everyone might be singing their praises and talking about how great they’re doing. But when times get tough, alcoholics don’t always know where to turn for help.
You should open your heart to a recovering addict and let them know you’re willing to talk whenever they need you to. You should then stick to that and invite them to call you or stop by your home at any time.
You should also make it a point to reserve your judgment when speaking with someone battling addiction. They’ll feel more comfortable coming to talk with you when they know you aren’t going to make them feel worse than they already do.
3. Avoid Becoming an Enabler
The last thing you want to do when trying to support a recovering alcoholic is become an enabler.
Often times, people think they’re helping an addict when, in reality, they’re enabling their behavior and in some cases even allowing them to slide back into their bad habits.
You might be an enabler if:
- You frequently lend a recovering addict money
- You make excuses for the decisions they make in life
- You give them ultimatums but don’t ever follow through on them
- You bail them out when they get themselves into legal trouble
- You refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem and need help
It’s easy for people to become enablers when they really care about someone and want them to get better. Sometimes, the best support you can show is tough love that forces a person to rethink the way they’re living their life.
4. Offer to Help Them Find the Help They Need
Do you get the feeling the alcoholic in your life needs professional help?
There is plenty of places for them to go. You should let them know that, if they would like, you would be more than willing to help them check into a facility to get some help.
The San Diego Recovery Center is one great example of a place where a person can go to work on battling their addiction issues.
5. Eliminate Relapse Triggers From Their Life
There are certain triggers that can cause a recovering addict to fall off the wagon.
These triggers include:
- Social events featuring alcohol
- Relationship issues
- Old friends and family members
- And more
If you know that an alcoholic might be tempted to drink by a trigger, try and help them stay away from it. It can make it a lot easier for them to resist the urge to drink.
6. Check Up on Them and Offer Positive Encouragement
Ideally, recovering alcoholics should be enrolled in some kind of support group that will offer up all the positive encouragement they need.
But the truth is that someone who is dealing with alcoholism can use all the support and encouragement they can get.
As long as you know it won’t trigger them, you should check up on a person every now and then and give them some encouragement to help them keep going.
Many people in recovery appreciate hearing some positivity from someone who they consider to be an important part of their life.
7. Understand That Recovery Is an Ongoing Process
Unfortunately, there is no cure for alcoholism.
Relapse is common. And even if someone manages to abstain from drinking for 5, 10, or 25 years, there’s always a chance they could end up downing a beer or drinking a glass of wine at some point in their lives.
You should prepare yourself for the possibility of relapse and do your best to avoid overreacting to news about it.
A person might not be able to quit drinking right away. That doesn’t mean you should give up on them and consider them a lost cause.
Start Showing More Support for the Recovering Alcoholic in Your Life
If you have a recovering alcoholic in your life, you should start showing them as much support as you can.
There might be times when this will be tough. You might get frustrated and angry at them when they suffer a setback. But it will all be worth it in the end when they are able to overcome their issues.
Check out our blog for more tips on dealing with addiction proactively.