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How To Help Someone With Alcohol Use Disorder

If someone you love is struggling with AUD, there are new solutions that can help. Ria Health offers comprehensive, evidence-based treatment from home.

Watching a loved one struggle with alcohol use disorder can be an incredibly challenging experience. If you’re in this position you’ve likely felt a mixture of frustration, grief, overwhelm, anger, and even shame.

When you love someone who struggles with addiction, it can have a tremendous impact on your own well-being. Know that your loved one’s drinking is not your fault. And while you cannot force them to change, there are things you can do to support them on their journey to recovery.

If you’ve ever wondered how to help an alcoholic stop drinking or how to help someone quit drinking alcohol, we have the information you need.

Table of Contents

Does My Loved One Have Alcohol Use Disorder? 

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a condition where someone’s drinking causes significant distress or impairment in various aspects of their life, such as their social relationships, work, or health. Despite these negative impacts, someone with AUD will continue to drink. AUD is a chronic and progressive condition that can range from mild to severe. 

AUD is characterized by excessive alcohol consumption, difficulty in controlling the amount of alcohol consumed, withdrawal symptoms, and a strong craving for alcohol. If you’re wondering if your loved one really has AUD, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Increased tolerance to alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, sweating, and agitation when not drinking
  • Inability to limit alcohol consumption
  • Neglecting responsibilities (e.g., not fulfilling work, school, or family obligations)
  • Continued drinking despite negative consequences
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol
  • Giving up activities in favor of drinking
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as driving while drunk

If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms in your loved one, consider taking our free 11-question assessment to assess your loved one’s drinking habits.

Concerned your loved one is drinking too much?
Take our free survey to get a clearer sense of where their drinking falls on the spectrum

How To Talk To Someone About Their Drinking 

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s drinking, an important step can be to talk to them about your concerns. You may not know how to help someone stop drinking, but talking to them about it can help aid them on the path to recovery.

In having these conversations, one of the most important things you can do is communicate compassionately and with empathy. Approaching someone with hostility, shame, or other strong, negative emotions won’t lead to a productive conversation. Instead, put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they might need or want to hear. You can even try asking them what kind of support they need most.

In talking to someone about their drinking, focus on using “I” statements to describe your concerns and how their drinking has impacted you. Avoid using language that induces blame or shame.

Also be sure to give your loved one space to share, and practice good listening skills. This might be the first time they’ve had the opportunity to have an honest conversation with someone about their drinking, so practice listening with empathy and care.

When To Hold an Intervention

Sometimes, addressing your loved one’s drinking might involve a more formal intervention. How can you know when an intervention is appropriate?

Interventions are typically the best option when other methods haven’t worked. If you and others have already addressed your loved one’s drinking, but their behavior hasn’t changed, it might be time to hold a more formal intervention.

The success of an intervention can also depend on your loved one themselves. Is your loved one prone to bouts of anger and defensiveness? Do they often feel ganged up on by others? If so, an intervention might exacerbate those feelings and might not be the best option.

Read more: How to Talk To Someone About Their Drinking

Download Our Free Guide
Download our guide on How to Help Someone Quit Drinking. Learn more about alcohol use disorder, communicating with a loved one, and the resources available to help.
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Helping Someone in Recovery 

Helping someone in recovery from alcohol use disorder can be challenging, but it can also be a rewarding experience. The key is to provide support and encouragement, while also setting boundaries to maintain your own well-being. 

Here are some tips and resources for helping someone in recovery:

Encourage professional help

Encourage your loved one to find professional help to treat their AUD. If your loved one is ready for a change, one big way that you can help them is by assisting them in finding a suitable treatment option. New innovations in technology mean that your loved one can access treatment from the comfort of their own home through telemedicine. 

Learn more about how to help someone find treatment.

Practice empathy and understanding

Recovery from alcohol use disorder is an ongoing process. In fact, recovery from any kind of addiction will inevitably involve some setbacks and relapses. Practice empathy, patience, and understanding with your loved one and know that this is all part of the process. 

Understand what recovery looks like

It’s important to know what to expect when a loved one is in recovery. Recovery has many different phases and your loved one won’t return to normal overnight. Instead, your loved one might go through several stages of withdrawal and detox as alcohol leaves their system. Your loved one might also experience challenging emotions and memories as they recover and detox from alcohol. Know what to expect and adjust your expectations accordingly.

Learn more about long-term recovery from alcohol addiction

Create supportive environments

Help your loved one by creating supportive environments and avoiding situations or activities that could trigger the individual’s urge to drink. This can include avoiding alcohol in social situations and instead opting for non-alcoholic beverages. You can also encourage others within your social circle to do the same.

Educate yourself about Alcohol Use Disorder

Educating yourself about AUD can be an important step in supporting someone in recovery. Understanding the nature of AUD and the challenges they may face can help you provide better support and encouragement. Reading books, attending support groups, or speaking with a healthcare professional are all ways to gain a deeper understanding of AUD and the recovery process.

Is your loved one ready to get help for their alcohol use?
Help them get started with Ria's online treatment program today

Setting Limits and Practicing Self-Care

When helping someone in recovery from AUD, it can be all too easy to focus so much on your loved one that you neglect caring for yourself. It’s crucially important that you set appropriate boundaries, make space for yourself, and practice self-care. This can help you better support your loved one’s recovery and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and burnt out.

Consider the following practices to prioritize your own self-care and boundaries:

  • Set explicit expectations: Be clear about what you expect from your loved one, including attending therapy appointments, recovery meetings, etc. You might also set a boundary that you will not cover for your loved one when they make a mistake, but instead will let them deal with the consequences.
  • Prioritize your own health: It’s all too easy to neglect your own health when you’re caring for someone else. Prioritize your health by practicing stress management techniques, exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting enough sleep.
  • Maintain social connections: Spending time with friends and family, or participating in hobbies and activities, can provide a much-needed break and help reduce stress. Be sure to maintain your connections and lean on them for support when you need it.
  • Ask for help: None of us can do it all alone. Be sure to ask for help when you need it, whether from friends, family, or a therapist. Working with a therapist can help you cope with the challenges of supporting a loved one in recovery.

Continue reading:

How To Help a Parent With Alcohol Use Disorder

What To Do if Your Child Has a Drinking Problem

Is your loved one ready to make a change?

Get in contact with a compassionate member of our team today, or help them sign up for our online alcohol treatment program.

Is My Drinking Normal?

Take our short alcohol quiz to learn where you fall on the drinking spectrum and if you might benefit from quitting or cutting back on alcohol.