As of 2015, over six percent of the US population suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). This is a staggering number, and it means that you almost certainly no someone who is currently suffering from this condition. It’s also likely that they may be a close friend or family member.
Luckily, there are many programs and facilities available to those struggling with alcohol addiction. But while these services are undoubtedly useful tools in the process of recovery, they’re not the only ones needed.
If you’re close with a person who is suffering from alcoholism, your support can be one of their biggest weapons in the fight against addiction and relapse. That said, knowing how to support someone in this position isn’t always self-explanatory.
Being helpful and supportive takes many forms, and this list is here to help you along in that role. Here are a few tips on how to support an alcoholic in recovery.
Accept Them Unconditionally
This is one of the most important things you can do to support an alcoholic. They need to know that they are loved and supported regardless of their condition.
Sometimes, this is easier said than done. An unfortunate side effect of addiction is that it often causes people to act in ways that are counter to their character. Whether this comes in the form of lying, stealing, or other behavior, remaining an unwavering source of love can be a challenge.
It’s also important not to confuse acceptance with tolerating unacceptable behavior. It’s ok to draw personal lines and not let yourself be used while still reinforcing the fact that you accept and support your loved one no matter what.
Above all else, actively communicate your support both verbally and through your actions. Sometimes the difference between a successful recovery and a failed one is just having someone in your corner.
Keep Your Home Substance Free
Whether your loved one is living with you or just visits frequently, keeping your house free of intoxicants is incredibly important. There are several reasons for this.
For one, not having alcohol available simply reduces the sufferer’s access to it. Obviously, having a harder time getting ahold of alcohol seriously lowers the chances someone will be tempted to use it.
Beyond that, your willingness to keep your home drug-free demonstrates the lengths you’ll go to in order to facilitate your loved one’s recovery. By making personal concessions, you show that your friend or family member’s sobriety is first and foremost in your mind.
When someone suffers from addiction of any type, there are usually many factors at play. While a predisposition to alcoholism can have significant genetic factors, there are almost always external conditions influencing the person’s habits.
With that in mind, your loved one might just need someone to listen to them. Addiction is an uphill battle, but it’s even tougher all alone. When they have someone to prop them up in their defeats and celebrate their victories, the whole process seems far more manageable.
While professional therapy is a great option and an important step for many people, having someone close to the situation to vent to can be invaluable. When your loved one needs an ear, make sure to give them one.
Encourage Good Choices
There’s a lot more to beating addiction than just steering clear of alcohol. Without positive behaviors to replace the harmful ones, it’s easy to fall back into the cycle of abuse.
Try to help your friend or family member make healthy choices in every area of their life. This can take the form of healthier eating, regular exercise, or pursuing a positive and engaging hobby.
When the mind is focused on activities that build the brain instead of breaking it down, temptation decreases. All the many functions of the human body are linked, so improvement in one area is certain to lead to improvement in another.
Also, don’t be afraid to take part in these new healthy activities and hobbies yourself. Having an accountability buddy to follow them on their new journey will make forming those new, healthier habits much easier.
Suggest Seeking Outside Support
For as important as supporting your loved one directly is, things like support groups can be just as crucial to a successful recovery.
No matter how understanding you are, there will always be a disconnect between someone who is struggling with addiction and someone who isn’t. In a support group, a person can find other individuals who are in the ongoing process of recovery themselves. Being surrounded by people in a similar position to their own can make a world of difference.
Outside of support groups, things like rehab programs can help in ways that you don’t have the ability to. These facilities and programs provide a level of professional help that can seriously help someone suffering from alcohol addiction.
Last but definitely not least. There’s no need to beat around the bush. Helping someone battle their alcoholism is going to test your patience. A lot.
The best thing you can do in this situation is to remember that your loved one is in the midst of an ongoing process. Things aren’t going to get better overnight. A little resilience goes a long way.
As mentioned earlier, you should always have healthy boundaries, but be prepared to be taken out of your comfort zone. If you can find it in you to stick it out, both parties will be better for it.
How to Support an Alcoholic in Recovery: In Summary
Needless to say, the road to recovery is a long one with many twists and turns. And it’s not easy to accompany someone on that trek.
Hopefully, this list has shed some light on techniques that will help you and your loved one equally. Knowing how to support an alcoholic in recovery is a learned skill, not a natural one.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to be the best support system you can be, this is just the first step. Keep reading for more insights on addiction and how you can help.