You can’t make your loved one sober, and you can’t love away alcoholism.
Individuals who are actively addicted to alcohol are often the last to realize they need help. Likewise, family members who have been hurt, traumatized and overwhelmed by a loved one's addiction are typically at a loss as to where to turn or how to help.
The first step forward is recognizing that alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that involves alterations in brain chemistry and circuitry, and impacts a person's physical, mental and behavioral health. It's also important to understand that alcoholism is an isolating disease that thrives in secrecy and shame.
The most loving response you can have is to give voice to your concerns and reach out for help.
So what can you do if you're worried about your loved one's alcohol abuse?
1. Educate yourself about the medical implications of alcohol use disorder. Left untreated, alcoholism can lead to many serious diseases that can be fatal.
2. Learn about treatment methods and rehab programs. Addiction treatment comes in many different forms and modalities. What are the most-effective approaches for alcoholism, and how can you find the best treatment fit to help your loved one get sober?
3. Consider having an intervention. During an intervention, family members show love and support while setting clear boundaries around substance abuse and consequences related to drinking. It is not a confrontation, a fight or an argument. A professional intervention can be especially beneficial if your loved one is in denial about the extent of their substance use problem. In active addiction, denial can be a powerful dynamic for the person with alcoholism as well as loved ones. A professional interventionist has expertise in addiction treatment, family systems and what's involved in encouraging an alcoholic or addict to enter treatment.
4. Get help for yourself. While you can't will your loved one to get sober or control their behavior, you can control your responses. Support groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen are free, accessible recovery programs for family members and friends of alcoholics and addicts. Learn more about the importance of self-care and setting healthy boundaries.
Unconditional love and encouragement will go a long way in helping your loved one find freedom from alcoholism but, ultimately, the desire to change must come from within.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, get the help you need and deserve. With residential and outpatient levels of care available, Valor Recovery Center can offer the very best chance for lifelong recovery.
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