When surveyed in the united states of America, 85.6% of those 18 and older said they had consumed alcohol. Almost 15 million individuals aged 12 and up were found to have alcohol use disorder.
Alcohol on its own is not necessarily bad. It’s when people overconsume or develop dependencies on it that problems arise. In such a situation, these victims may find themselves needing help and not just for their sustenance abuse issues. Seeing your loved ones and friends struggling with an addiction can be painful. It can also be challenging to know how to help them.
Here are some of the basics that I’ve personally learned from struggling with drug addiction.
1. Learn About Alcoholism
It is essential to thoroughly research the condition before approaching the person suffering from it. This helps you better understand the facts behind what is going on and prevents you from acting on inaccurate knowledge, which may lead to you causing more harm than good. It also allows you to talk to your family member or buddy in a constructive, effective manner.
At this point, we know that alcoholism and drug addiction are a disease and should be treated. Possible recovery isn’t a matter of someone simply just quitting. It is about helping them to find the help they need.
2. Show Compassion and Understanding
Alcoholism is a disease, not a choice. It is imperative not to blame or apply “harsh love” tactics that involve lashing out at, shaming or judging the other person. Instead, remain caring and compassionate. Doing so may make the other party more receptive to accepting your help instead of attacking them, which may cause them to withdraw from or reject you.
The best thing you can do for someone struggling is to let them know that you are there.
3. Stage an Intervention
In some cases, the intervention of friends or family members may be necessary. Things you should do in such a situation include calmly expressing your concerns, offering suggestions and bringing up the topic of professional aid. Things you should not do include inviting unsupportive people, throwing accusations or trying to strong-arm the person into the action you believe is correct. You want to be gentle and encouraging but firm if necessary. Coercion is not the answer since the person must want to help themselves.
The key to someone seeking help isn’t that they were convinced. It’s that the person struggling was offered help, and at that time, they were ready.
Sometimes, having a trusted individual to vent to makes all the difference. Be that person, that listening ear, that soft, empathetic presence for them. Do not tell them what they have done wrong; sit and let them release their pent-up emotions and pain.
That being said, do not help feed the addiction. Learn as much as you can about the addiction and be there to listen, help, and maybe even share a meal. Don’t become an atm or an enabler.
5. Offer Support
Actions are vital, often more so than words. One of the best ways you can help struggling alcoholics is to support them in whatever way you can. Support may mean driving them to rehab or appointments. It may mean holding their hands at times. It may mean simply showing up if they say they need someone to be there. Knowing that they have at least one person willing to support them and that they are not alone can give them the strength they need to take steps to beat their addiction.
There is a reason I’ve been very open about my struggles over the years, and it’s pretty simple. We all need hope, and while I know my story won’t reach everyone, if it reaches just a few and shows them there is life after addiction or at least the act, it’s all worth it.
Supporting your loved ones and friends through addictions can be a draining and complex process. The most important thing is sticking with them and remaining compassionate because some pull through.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto