Repairing a relationship with a friend, family member, or loved one who is battling alcohol addiction is a long and difficult process. When a person is struggling with alcoholism, it strains personal and professional relationships. Alcoholism not only affects the individual with the condition, but it also impacts those around them, particularly those who are close to them.
If you know someone who is struggling with alcohol addiction and you want to help them, here are some tips that you can use. Keep in mind, however, that recovering from alcohol addiction is something that will take some time. Thus, it would be beneficial to use an alcohol addiction timeline to help you adjust your own efforts and expectations.
1. Acknowledge Their Efforts
This is perhaps the most important thing that you should do to help someone who is struggling with alcoholism. Being vocal in acknowledging their efforts is a sign that you see what they are going through and you are appreciative of their struggle to even get to the point where they can admit that they need help.
Remember, if someone is struggling with alcohol addiction, they are also feeling shame and guilt over the strain and negativity that their addiction has caused. Often, these negative emotions can cause people to withdraw even further from the people around them because they are afraid that they will be judged, ridiculed, or even shunned. Thus, vocally acknowledging that you know what they are going through will go a long way in helping ease their minds.
2. Open Multiple Lines of Communication
Many alcoholics struggle with communicating their needs, even with people that they were particularly close with before they started to struggle with their addiction. For some people, the feelings of guilt and shame prevent them from asking for help, while others perceive asking for help as a sign of further weakness. There are also those that just find it hard to says what they need.
If your loved one is finding it hard to communicate with you, it falls to you to offer different ways for them to reach out. You need to find a method of communication that’s both effective AND comfortable for that person, and there’s no “one” method that can work for everyone. For some people, spontaneous talks might be helpful, while others find that scheduled chats work better for them.
You should also offer different ways of communication. You can offer to talk to them in person or over the phone. Even something as simple as being available on social media direct messaging can be effective.
3. Offer to Attend Meetings with Them
While there are countless support groups and organizations out there that are designed to help people recover from alcohol addiction, it could be daunting for someone who has never attended one of them to suddenly have to go on their own. However, in many cases, all they need is the initial push to attend a meeting for them to have the courage and initiative to attend future ones.
You can show them your support by offering to attend meetings with them. It would help to see a friendly, familiar, and supportive face during their sessions. However, you need to make sure that the particular support group allows for companions, as some support groups are designed solely for the attendance of addicts.
4. Be Prepared for Lapses and Resistance
It’s something that bears repeating: “recovering from alcoholism is not easy”. Even people who are fiercely dedicated to turning away from their alcohol addiction will have days where they find it difficult to keep away from alcohol, and during those days, there could be instances of relapsing or resistance to whatever progress they have already made.
During these instances, it is natural for you to feel anger or disappointment, but you can control how you express these negative emotions. Trying to force them to accept your anger and disappointment will do more harm than good. What’s more, you need to step back and really analyze why you would want them to apologize for their lapses. Is it in their best interest, or is it because you feel disappointed that they did not live up to your expectations? If it’s the latter, then you need to realize that you’re being selfish.
5. Be Direct and Honest
Those who are struggling with alcoholism are not mind readers. For you, it might be obvious what it is they need to do or say in order to regain your trust, but for them, they could still be feeling lost because of their situation.
It is helpful to be direct and upfront about what you want from them. Giving them concrete, measurable ways to help fix your broken relationship not only guides them in the right direction, it also gives them clear goals to strive toward. Start with small things, such as attending a month’s worth of support meetings without fail, or listing down each time they wanted to have a drink but stopped themselves. These small victories will lead up to bigger ones over time.