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If you wish to help a person affected by alcoholism, then know that a number of options exist. Below, we aim to demystify these options so you are able to assist a loved one, relative or even yourself in overcoming alcoholism.

Helping a loved one seek treatment for alcoholism is often an uphill battle. Why? Because those affected by alcoholism are renowned for denying this problem even exists. We believe this task of helping an alcoholic friend or family member will be significantly eased once you have fully digested the information we outline below.

The difference between alcoholism and ‘drinking too much’

If you suspect your loved one suffers from alcoholism, it’s likely he or she will dismiss your concerns. They may admit that they need to ‘just cut down’, but they are not an ‘alcoholic’ because they ‘don’t live on the streets’ or because they ‘manage to go to work every day’.

Unfortunately, this reasoning could not be further from the truth. There is a common misconception that one must be homeless and mentally unstable in order to suffer from alcoholism. In truth, the vast majority of those suffering from alcoholism will live productive lifestyles, including holding down a fulltime job.

Often those affected by alcoholism will eventually be forced to decide between seeking out professional treatment or giving up on life entirely. If you’re loved one has seemingly lost control of his or her drinking and even attempted to ‘give up’ on several occasions in the past, then it’s likely this time will inevitably arrive sooner rather than later.

The problem of denial

If your loved one continues to deny the existence of this obvious ‘elephant in the room,’ then you may be best advised to seek out the services of a professional interventionist. Alcoholism is often obvious to all those who must witness it even when the person suffering from this illness is convinced he or she is merely ‘drinking too much’. It is rare for those affected by alcoholism to be in a good position to judge the severity of their own illness. This is because alcoholism affects parts of the brain responsible for logical reasoning.

Witnessing your loved one’s mental and physical decline at the hands of alcoholism is devastating and emotionally exhausting. It is thus best to seek out help now rather than later. To delay seeking out help will mean your loved one’s condition will deteriorate further and to the point where the damage caused by alcoholism is irreversible.

It’s also difficult to admit to a loved one that professional help is required. This is especially the case if the loved one is an older sibling or parent. Again, we would like to stress the value of seeking out the services of a professional interventionist where your loved one is simply unwilling or unable to discuss his or her alcoholism. If a positive dialogue is not able to begin, it’s highly unlikely your loved one will even agree to consider the various types of treatment options that are available.

In many cases, the need for alcohol rehab treatment will be obvious to all those who must witness your loved one’s ever-worsening health. Perhaps, the only barrier preventing your loved one from seeking out this treatment is his or her refusal to fully admit up to the severity of this problem.

Here, we outline the symptoms and signs of alcoholism.

Approaching your loved one with your concerns

When discussing the problem with an affected loved one, do not come off as preachy or overtly confrontational. To do so is likely to stir up resistance to your offer to help your loved one. Remember that alcoholism is a disease that sadly carries a lot of stigma, so it is unlikely your loved one will admit to having this illness without first putting up some form of resistance.

To avoid a negative reaction, try to demonstrate empathy and genuine concern. It’s important to note that you cannot compel a person to seek out addiction treatment by threatening them with any form of ultimatum. Doing so may actually discourage them from admitting help is needed. This state-of-affairs is best summed up in the old saying ‘you can bring a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink.’

Alcoholism must be considered an illness and not a mere behaviour that can be consciously controlled. Alcoholism is not a choice. Alcoholism is a physical and mental addiction. People addicted to alcohol cannot simply stop drinking alcohol even when they are acutely aware of the severe negative consequence of continuing to do so.

It’s not unknown for those affected by alcoholism to resist calls for treatment on the basis that they actually enjoy being addicted to alcohol. Those affected by alcoholism often simply enjoy drinking alcohol. The very thought of giving up alcohol for good is one many of these people will not welcome. This attitude may seem masochistic for all those around them, but this is not uncommon.

The benefit of hitting rock bottom

The good news is that this deadlock does eventually end when the person hits ‘rock bottom.’ If your loved one hits rock bottom, he or she is likely to be more receptive to your approach. However, the mental state that’s known as ‘rock bottom’ is likely to be temporary, so it’s important to convince your loved one to enter a treatment programme before resistance is able to gain momentum.

An intervention is unarguably the best way forward once your loved one hits rock bottom. An intervention is a coordinated effort to convince your loved one of the need for professional alcohol rehab treatment. An intervention meeting is conducted by a professional interventionist. The interventionist helps your loved one accept the diagnosis of alcoholism and outlines the various treatment options available. This information helps your loved one build confidence in his or her ability to succeed in overcoming alcoholism for good.

To learn more about staging an intervention, contact us today on 0800 140 4690. We are able to connect you with a professional interventionist in your local area.

Entering an alcohol treatment programme

The most effective form of alcoholism treatment is inpatient rehab treatment. Overcoming alcoholism is not easy. Due to the universal availability of alcohol, it’s best to undergo treatment from the safety of an alcohol rehab clinic. Here, it will be impossible to access alcohol. This is not the case when your loved one undertakes outpatient treatment by visiting a local therapist or counsellor.

Inpatient rehab may seem like a radical course of action, but rest assure that going to rehab is almost always the recommended option for those affected by alcoholism. Alcohol rehab treatment begins with a medically assisted alcohol detox. Because alcohol is a physically addictive substance, your loved one will require medications that help to ease dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms typically require ongoing treatment for up to 10 days.

Whilst in rehab, your loved one will undergo therapy and counselling. This helps to treat the psychological aspect of alcoholism. Often, alcoholism is caused by mental trauma. Counselling and therapy aim to heal mental scars so your loved one no longer needs to abuse alcohol to self-medicate traumatic memories.

Many alcohol rehab clinics also offer family therapy. Family therapy is particularly useful when a condition known as co-dependency has arisen. Co-dependency arises when a loved-one acts in a way that supports and enables another’s alcoholism.

Another option is to seek out the help of your local GP. This person will assist your loved one by referring him or her to a drug and alcohol action team. It’s important to realise this assistance will not include residential rehab treatment. Unfortunately, due to cuts to addiction services, it has become difficult to secure the required funding for inpatient rehab treatment. This means the vast majority of people must fund treatment out-of-pocket.

Useful contacts

  • Rehab 4 Addiction – we offer a 24/7 helpline for people affected by alcoholism. You can contact us today on 0800 140 4690
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offers nationwide support groups following the famous 12-step model
  • Al-Anon offers a support group for family members of those affected by alcoholism
  • Addaction is a UK agency offering treatment for those affected by alcoholism and drug addiction SMART Recovery offers support groups that are evidence-based. SMART Recovery is promoted as an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous