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Helping An Alcoholic Out Of An Addiction

The Symptoms of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is never a fun thing. Watching a friend or a loved one battle through an alcoholic addiction is troubling and you’d do anything in your power to help them through this tough time. However, we often don’t even know where to begin.

Alcoholism is as much a psychological struggle as it is a physical one. It takes a lot of mental capacity to resist the temptation of an addiction because your brain has been rewired to crave for and be wholly dependent on it. As a result, the overdependence incurred from the drinking habits begins to interfere with one’s health, social, and professional relationships. This is why addicts who need help should opt for rehabilitation.

Just like any other form of addictions, alcoholism operates across a spectrum. However, a mild addiction doesn’t negate the propensity for it to develop into more serious complications. Mild symptoms are the forewarnings before it snowballs into more severe conditions. This is why early intervention and treatment are arguably the most important and effective measures against fighting alcoholism, especially in its onset. By addressing the problem while still fresh, the habitual alcoholic dependence isn’t as deeply ingrained yet. Waiting to address the problem only when it spirals out of control would be already too late.

Steps to Help a Recovering Alcoholic

Step 1: Be informed about alcoholism

Just as how you’d approach any problem, you always want to ensure to be well-informed on the topic. Addressing an issue with no relevant contextual knowledge is just half the battle lost. You’re not well-equipped to tackle it and just end up going in blindly.

Additionally, for sensitive topics such as this, refrain from minimizing or dismissing it. It’s a difficult subject to address because it’s a personal struggle that shouldn’t be taken lightly or joked about. Thus, avoid viewing the problem of alcoholism through a narrow lens of it being a condition of “merely drinking too much of it from time to time” — it’s way more than that. In fact, sometimes alcohol being used as a coping mechanism to deal with life struggles isn’t even enough to be considered alcoholism.

What truly constitutes a drinking disorder would be the complete lack of control in drinking. They have no physical restraint on moderating their alcohol consumption and are subjected to this vice entirely. They’re basically under its control.

It’s only after you’re sufficiently educated about the condition, can you afford to extend a helping hand to the one in need. Some excellent resources for recovering addicts include Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, SAMHSA, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Step 2: Finding the Right Words
Think back to all the times you had to deliver a presentation — likewise, you have to rehearse what you’re going to say to the person. When you meet in-person, the situation is no doubt going to be rather tense and delicate. Hence, it’s essential for you to exercise as much tact and thoughtfulness as possible.

Your statements should be positive and uplifting while simultaneously recognizing and acknowledging the severity of the issue. Don’t go in headstrong with insensitive, negative, and presumptuous statements. Chances are, the person’s already well-aware of their faults and criticizing further would either make them more resistant to therapy or worse, drive their insecurities and self-hatred deeper, and prompt them to take drastic and life-endangering measures.

A great strategy to practice would be to adopt “I” statements. They reduce the accusatory tone in your voice and slots yourself into the conversation empathetically. It’s no longer just the person experiencing this struggle alone, but you’re also signaling to them that you’re present alongside them on their journey. Also, don’t be stingy with expressing your words of affirmation and validating their value to you as a person. Show your love and care for them in an abundance.

Moreover, where possible, bring up specific concerns stemming from the issue of alcoholism. For example, identifying the unintended consequences of drinking such as violent tendencies or economic burdens are excellent starting points to open up the conversation. While they might be resistant or reluctant to hear or recognize the harsh reality of their drinking state, they might be more open to reason about the unintended consequences it brings.

Lastly, be prepared for any sort of reaction. Whether they’re aggressive, passively resistant, or compliant, remaining calm and giving them assurance is always the right response to give.

Step 3: Appropriate Setting
Ensure that both of you are in an appropriate setting to discuss a sensitive issue as this. You don’t want any eavesdropping within the vicinity; it lowers the level of trust and sense of security the person has, making him or her less willing to confide in you.

Moreover, remove any potential sources of interruption to ensure that both parties are fully engaged during the conversation. Keeping distractions at a minimum is key to facilitating a transparent discussion. Last but not least, the person being sober is a given.

Step 4: Empathetic Listening
As the person pours out their alcoholic woes and struggles to you, the best response to give would be to be open and honest with them about their situation. Blind optimism of “hoping” recovery for the person isn’t going to do anything.

Listen empathetically but also be their voice of reason; tell them how worried you are and express your support in any context possible. Even if they react negatively and reject your help, don’t be frustrated and flare up at them. The last thing denial needs is retaliation, especially when confronted. Be understanding and roll with the punches. Don’t take it personally and instead, give informative advice according to what they are able to tolerate for now.

Step 5: Their No. 1 Support
The key ingredient to an individual’s success in recovery is support from their peers and loved ones. As mentioned previously, addiction is more of a psychological war than a physical one. Fighting the battle is mentally draining and difficult to overcome alone. What every recovering addict needs is a steady support system who’s there for the person through thick and thin, to bring them out of the fog and back into the light.

Strive to remain non-judgmental, empathetic, and sincere. It was already difficult admitting one’s faults, let alone be committed to working through them despite having their weaknesses exposed so vulnerably to others.

Step 6: Intervention
This step should be your last resort if the person is still blinded to the severity of their plight. If alcoholism is impacting them to the point of certain death, it’s a definite sign for external parties to step in and intervene. However, such an approach requires significant planning, ramifications, punishments, and offering viable treatments. It’s an uncomfortable position on both ends and would require the aid of a professional counselor or therapist to advise accordingly.

Although this is a rough guideline for helping alcoholics, it’s not a set guide. Feel free to explore and edit methods where necessary. Patience is key and recovery won’t happen immediately, just like how one doesn’t become an alcoholic overnight. It’s a long process but you should never give up.

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Helping An Alcoholic Out Of An Addiction

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