How to Help an Alcoholic
Alcoholism affects millions of people each year. Those affected by alcoholism is not just the alcoholic himself, but family members, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers. Alcoholics have difficulty maintaining relationships with spouses, children and even friends and those who drink and get behind the wheel of a car with 0.10 on score on a breathalyzer are 7 times more likely to be involved in fatal car accident than someone who is sober. In addition, alcoholics have difficulty holding down jobs, and pose a real danger to themselves and co-workers if they do manage to work in any field that may have inherent safety risks. Most people who live with or know someone who suffers from alcoholism understands the danger to the alcoholic and those around them, but just how do you help an alcoholic?
Start by Understanding that Alcoholism is a Disease
The first step in helping an alcoholic is understanding that alcoholism is a disease. Begging or demanding that alcoholic quit drinking isn’t going to help the alcoholic or you. In fact, fighting with an alcoholic about his or her drinking may only make things worse, causing them to hide their drinking from you in an effort to avoid the frequent fighting. If you are going to confront an alcoholic, the best way to do so, is by staging a planned intervention with the help of a professional substance abuse counselor.
An intervention is usually attempted by family and friends under the leadership of professional counselor. In most cases, each person taking part in the intervention tells the person who is abusing alcohol the effects their drinking has on them and other family members. This is done usually by reading letters that have been written in advance of intervention. Each person then tells the abuser how much they care for them, but tell them that unless they seek and follow through with a treatment program, they will not help them destroy themselves. This usually means, leaving the relations, refusing to give or loan money, or help the alcoholic who refuses help in any way.
Many experts don’t feel that intervention is an effective way to help an alcoholic, acknowledging the most successful treatments are those where the alcoholic has a real desire to seek help for their problem rather than to feel forced into treatment.
Treatment for Alcoholics There are a several different ways to treat alcoholics and most work best when treatments are combined. Initially, in order for treatment to be successful an alcoholic needs to go through detox (a period of not drinking to break the physical dependency on alcohol.) This should be done under a doctors supervision.
Once the detox is complete, then the alcoholic needs to undergo some type of counseling either as an inpatient or as outpatient or both. Most alcoholics need to continue being part of a support group to help them continue to avoid turning back to alcohol.
For those really wanting to help an alcoholic family member or friend, seeking your own counseling is advisable as it is believed that in order for the alcoholic to get and remain sober, those around them need to make changes and get healthy as well.
If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism talk to your family doctor and find out more about where and how to help those suffering from alcoholism.