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How to Help an Alcoholic: 10 Powerful Ways

dealing with relapse

10 Ways How to Help an Alcoholic

Over half of U.S. adults drink regularly. In addition, alcoholism affects nearly 1 in 13 adults in the United States. This makes it one of the most pervasive diseases in the U.S. and one of the more difficult to combat.

When dealing with a friend or loved one who you suspect to be an alcoholic, it can be difficult to know what to do. The following are 10 ways that you can help an alcoholic overcome this disease.

1. Identify The Problem

Alcoholism is a subtle disease. Many alcoholics appear to be fully functional the majority of the time. To identify the problem, look for signs like:

  • Drinking during the work day
  • Always ordering alcohol at restaurants
  • Frequent lateness to work or social engagements
  • Blackouts
  • Violence during or after drinking

If you need further help on how to identify some of these signs or what to look for visit the following sites:


Here’s an example of what these sites have to offer:

recognize alcohol addiction

If you are still uncertain on identifying signs always feel free to reach out to a professional who can assist you.

Just pick up the phone and call. There are many anonymous help lines where you can just ask questions without giving any information.

2. Confront the Problem

Alcoholism thrives primarily because those who suffer from it don’t admit they are alcoholics.

Once you have identified the problem, you need to confront it directly.

Subtle hints aren’t good enough. Force the alcoholic to face the problem head on.

Why is this so important? Take a look at these statistics on Alcohol Use Disorder:

alcohol use disorder

For truly difficult cases, this may require an intervention to truly convince the alcoholic that they have a problem.

3. Be Open About the Problem

One of the main reasons that alcoholism is so difficult to fight is that many people unintentionally enable alcoholics.

So what are two huge things you can do?

  1. Make friends aware of the problem
  2. Make family aware of the problem

With awareness the conversations begins. By ignoring the issue alcoholics are more likely to continue to engage in habits and continue the cycle of alcoholism.

4. Seek Professional Assistance

Use a treatment locator like SAMSHA.GOV to find treatment centers that suit your needs.

When you do you’ll have the option to search for treatment centers nearby or if you prefer to travel for treatment you can search by state or name.

samsha substance abuse treatment locator

A qualified addiction treatment center can offer treatments with high success rates compared to tackling the problem without professional assistance.

If the alcoholic won’t enroll them self in such a program or is resisting treatment options you may need to seek the help of an interventionist.

Visit For Tips and Guidelines on a Proper Intervention


5. Identify and Remove Triggers

Most alcoholics drink in response to triggers, like work stress or social stress. You need to identify these triggers and try to remove them or minimize them. This may mean that the alcoholic needs to make life altering changes like switching jobs or distancing from some friends.

Psych Central gives 5 excellent tips on how to manage and remove triggers:
manage triggers

  1. Identify – For everyone this is different so pay attention to your surroundings.
  2. Know What You’re Working With – Know your triggers well and stay alert.
  3. Practice – Rehearse what you will do when you are triggered.
  4. Take Care of Yourself – When you are healthy (eating right, sleeping etc.) you can handle triggers more effectively.
  5. Don’t Test Yourself – stick to what’s working.

6. Remove Temptations

It’s not possible to completely remove alcohol from an alcoholics life. But you can take steps to remove temptations. These steps are especially important in the beginning and the months following treatment:

  1. Remove all alcohol from the home of the alcoholic
  2. Hide all alcohol in your home
  3. Encourage mutual friends and family members to do the same.
  4. When going out, avoid places that serve alcohol.

Just following these four steps can make the difference between relapse or not.

7. Create a Support Structure

An alcoholic needs to know that they have family and friends that will provide support.

Set up a complete support structure for the alcoholic and make sure everyone in it is constantly in contact with each other and the alcoholic and that someone is always available, no matter the day or hour.

When in a reputable inpatient treatment facility this support is always available without fail but it’s also important to be aware of the different support groups available in the area.

Support Groups such as Smart Recovery always have meetings which are open to the public.

Click To find a Smart Recovery Meeting near you .

8. Support the Support Structure

This one may seem a bit odd but the alcoholic isn’t the only one who needs help. Providing support for an alcoholic is difficult and can be a struggle both physically and emotionally.

If anyone is having difficulty dealing with the alcoholism, make sure that they receive help coping or time off if they need a break. If you find yourself being overwhelmed, make sure there are people you can turn to for help as well.

A good way to accomplish this or set up the Support for the Support is to put everything down on paper and use a calendar to schedule things and set reminders for yourself.

addiction calendar

9. Engage in New Activities

Explore the world and find new shared hobbies. Break the old habits and try new things that keep your mind off your old ways. By staying focused and engaged in healthy activities you strengthen your chances of a success.
If you’re in need of a few suggestions head on over to WebMD and read their article:

Good Life Activities For Your Family

  1. Family Fun With Food
  2. Family Exercise and Outdoor Play
  3. Family Music, Games and Comfort

10. Never be Negative About Setbacks

Despite all of your actions, setbacks and relapses will happen. The worst thing you can do is offer guilt, anger, or scorn for these setbacks. Instead, provide encouragement. Learn from the setbacks, but don’t dwell on them.

This is easer said than done but if you need more support check out the article from About Health Dealing With Having a Relapse

dealing with relapse

Now it’s time to put these practices to work

Print out this list, expand upon it and stick to it…!

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