What makes someone pick up a drink and continue drinking until their life is out of control? Why are so many people effected by alcohol dependency? I asked myself how to help an alcoholic in the past because of a close association with one. I wanted to help but didn’t know where to begin.
Change your Behavior
The best place to begin helping an alcoholic, is by changing your behavior first. You can not change another, but you can definitely make changes within yourself. Practice courteous detachment. Emotional detachment can help you to see things clearly, without the distraction of anger or bitterness.
Detachment may not be easy, but you don’t have to stop loving or caring about the person. When you’re detached, the alcoholic is forced to examine their own behavior instead of focusing on yours. Practice detachment the best you can.
Stop compensating. As cruel as it may sound, allow the alcoholic to experience full consequences of their actions. Loosing a job for too many missed days, getting arrested for drunk driving, are all natural results of a drinking problem.
Don’t hide their problem, don’t bail them out of jail, don’t lie for them. The reality is the best teacher of all. Don’t make them feel comfortable in their addiction. Otherwise they will have no reason to make the change.
Communicate your boundaries and limits. You must let the alcoholic know what behavior is unacceptable to you. Make your communication with them firm, but in a non confrontational way. Your goal is to make them understand that you don’t accept or condone their drinking.
Set rules and explain repercussions. Don’t make idle threats. Follow through on your promises. If you know that you are unable to follow through, don’t make that promise. In order for the relationship to change, you must be honest and direct.
Point of Surrender
It is impossible to convince an alcoholic that they need help. They are fighting and struggling to keep control of their life. The alcoholic is the only person who can decide that there is a problem. This turning point for an alcoholic is called a point of surrender. Once they reach that point, the recovery can begin.
How do you know when the person is ready for help? When they ask fro it. Until then, nothing will work. Don’t waist your time reasoning, insisting, threatening or begging. I remember trying to invent new ways to persuade the alcoholic to seek help. It was futile. The degree of success lies mostly in the willingness of the alcoholic to admit that they have a problem.
Modern science attributes addiction to everything from a bad childhood to a chemical imbalance in the brain. There is a number of effective treatments for alcoholism. They usually consist of a combination of support groups, therapies and in some cases prescription medication.
Looking from a purely spiritual point, addiction such as drugs and alcohol often stems from a life lacking spirituality. The spirit naturally strives toward the infinite love that is the Higher Power. Unable to connect, the dissatisfied ego attempts to compensate for this love by resorting to substance abuse and other potentially self destructive behavior.
It is recommended that in addition to modern therapies, directing the recovering alcoholic to spiritual pursuits will often help to reinforce their recovery. It may give them support they can rely on during the recovery and well into the rest of their life.
Live well. Vlad