Of the many maladies that could affect a loved one, alcoholism is one of the most damaging and pernicious. Watching someone you care for slowly descend down a path of addiction is unsettling — to say the least — and gets even more frightening as their behavior starts to change.
In addition to noticing your loved one’s physical health declining, you may also note a change in their behavior, along with some of the commonly cited symptoms of alcohol abuse — a loss of interest in hobbies or family activities, signs of depressions, and perhaps even increased aggressiveness. In extreme cases, alcoholism might affect your family to the point where you’ve had to hire a domestic abuse lawyer or a lawyer for DUI arrests because of your loved one’s behavior.
This begs the question: how can you help a loved one who is suffering from alcoholism. If someone close to you has been exhibiting the signs of alcoholism and you want to stay supportive, here’s where to start.
The Path To Treating Alcoholism
It’s widely known that some of the most effective treatments for alcoholism are done under the care of skilled medical professionals. As a friend or family member, though, there are specific actions you can take to help your loved one understand that they need help, and guide them to taking the steps they need to receive treatment.
It starts with unmasking the issue. Though alcoholism can be an embarrassing topic of discussion, hiding the problem won’t help bring about desirable changes. Instead, be open to discussing the issue and voicing your concerns. Allow your loved one to feel some of the negative relationship consequences of their alcoholism, and they will be more likely to seek out change on their own.
Of course, knowing how to tactfully confront an alcoholic friend or relative is an important skill to have if you want to make progress with them. It’s best to talk with them about the issue when they are sober, as doing so while they are inebriated will make the conversation more difficult. Remember that while they might become defensive about the topic, and you may not get to them on the first attempt, patience (along with compassion and understanding) are key.
It might also be possible that your loved one isn’t ready to seek help, even after repeated conversations on the topic. In these instances, you may want to consider staging an intervention, but be sure that you do so prepared, and with the help of an intervention specialist who can help you navigate the finer points of the discussion.