Alcoholism is a powerful addiction that can overcome a friend or loved one without warning. It takes hold of a man and dangles his livelihood in its depths. An alcoholic can struggle for years to overcome his addiction, but he usually cannot do it alone. If you are wondering how to help an alcoholic, follow these steps.
Talk about it. The first step in helping an alcoholic is helping him to admit that there is a problem. Sit down with your friend or loved one and bring up his alcoholism in a way that doesn't threaten or embarrass your friend. You'll probably need to take a loving, concerned approach. Try starting off by saying, "I don't know, Frank, but I'm worried that you're drinking a lot lately". Let him know that you're worried about him and that you are willing to help him through his recovery. By getting the problem out into the open, the alcoholic is more likely to recognize the addiction and be willing to get help.
Treat him respectfully. The entire time that you are trying to help an alcoholic, you must remember that this is a person with an addiction. Focus on the fact that he is still a person, and you'll realize that he needs to feel respected even amidst his addiction. It's important not to judge an alcoholic or to label him using hurtful words. Such comments will likely only lead to further stress for the alcoholic and delay his recovery. You don't want to give an alcoholic any other reason to drink, so make sure that you do your best to make him feel good about himself.
Offer help. Let your friend or loved one know that you are willing to help him through the recovery process. If you try to force or threaten an alcoholic into getting help, the chances of him making a full recovery are slim to none. Recovery has as much to do with willpower and dedication as it does with professional help or the right facility. And timing is just as important. Look for that perfect moment to suggest help to an alcoholic. Talk about options with him and let him be involved in the decision. An alcoholic cannot be pushed into recovery; it has to be his decision and he needs to feel supported throughout.
Contact Alcoholics Anonymous. If you've exhausted all of your options trying to help an alcoholic, there are professional organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous that can offer support and treatment. Not only can they provide you with support as you deal with the strains of alcoholism on your life, but your alcoholic friend can also attend meetings and work with a support group to overcome the addiction. You may jumpstart this process by giving your friend a copy of the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting schedule, and tell him that you're willing to drive him there.
Know when you've done all you can. Sometimes all of your efforts may do very little to help an alcoholic. You need to take care of yourself too. Know when it's time to bring in the professionals or to notify the appropriate agencies of your alcoholic friend's plight. Sometimes your friend will need to hit rock bottom before he will be willing to accept help. You can try your hardest, but until your friend is ready for change, you may need to step away and pray that your friend will be open to help sooner than later. Never give up on your friend, but recognize that there may be someone else you can approach who might be able to help an alcoholic.