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Help an Alcoholic Overcome Their Addiction

Most alcoholics want to find the right help, but won’t follow through because they don’t have to. Is your loved one suffering from alcohol addiction and not budging to get help?

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How To Help

How to Help an Alcoholic

In order to learn how to help an alcoholic, you must understand the reason why they are resistant to getting help, how your own actions contributed to enabling their alcoholic behavior, how to recognize the symptoms of alcohol addiction and why it is crucial to hold an alcoholic intervention on your own terms.

An alcoholic bottom occurs when things get worse faster than the alcoholic can lower his or her standards.

Most alcoholics want help, but won’t initiate or follow through because they don’t have to.

This is largely for two reasons:

  1. The belief that they don’t have a problem.
  2. An enabling family system.
Signs & Symptoms

Recognize Alcoholic Behavior

Nearly every family we meet feels their loved one is unique, the most stubborn, bullheaded person ever. Newsflash: Every alcoholic is like that; every single one of them.

An alcoholic can walk into any AA meeting anywhere in the world, and within 10 seconds, everyone in the room can relate to what is being said.

Alcoholics are textbook stubborn, self-centered, “my way or the highway” and “I’m the smartest person I know.” They also believe their situation is everybody else’s fault.

Alcoholics are master manipulators who operate in chaos while making your life chaotic as well so that they can get ahead, leaving you to lag behind.

Alcoholics are like police sirens. The police employ sirens intentionally with a loud blaring noise designed to disorient others. That’s how alcoholics operate, much like the police with the siren going off. They know how to operate in chaotic conditions or “blaring noise,” so to speak, while you stand dazed and confused.

You most likely didn’t research intervention just because your loved one drinks. Instead, you are seeking help because of the alcoholic’s behavior. The goal of an intervention is to teach you how to function “while the siren is blaring” or by not getting near the siren at all.

There are also several key physical and behavioral symptoms of an alcoholic. Here are a few signs that can help you recognize an alcohol addiction:


  • Displaying alcohol withdrawal symptoms like shakes, sweats, hallucinations or seizures
  • Having yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • Having liver or kidney problems


  • Hiding their drinking or drinking alone
  • Drinking in the morning
  • Drinking to the point of passing out
  • Not remembering things the next day due to blackouts
  • Participating in risky sexual behavior
  • Acting violent to themselves or someone else
  • Drunk driving
  • Getting arrested because of their drinking
  • Getting fired from their job or dropping out of school due to alcohol consumption
The longer you allow yourself to be taken hostage by the alcoholic, the less likely he or she will seek help.
Far too often, non-professionals and sadly even some professionals profess that the alcoholic has to want help and hit rock bottom. Be that as it may, the loved one will never get to either of those places if you continue to make it impossible for that to occur.

Don’t Enable Alcohol Addiction

When the question of how to help alcoholics comes up, the answer is not to help them stay sick by enabling their behavior and by signing on to their justifications and manipulations.

Most alcoholics feel they don’t have a problem, that their drinking is under control or that they don’t drink nearly as much as others. Not all, but most alcoholics we encounter have a job, are still married, and suffer little by way of consequences other than a disrupted and dismantled family system – which is most likely why you are reading this.

When families enable alcoholics, they diminish the loved one’s ability to want help or to hit bottom. Enabling your loved one allows him or her to adapt to even lower standards at a pace consistent with things getting worse.

Alcoholics often say they won’t stop until they want help or hit rock bottom, but how is that going to happen when family members stand in the way of those things occurring? How many more times are you going to believe their broken promises?

How many more times are you going to believe the next crisis will be the one that leads them to sobriety? And how many times are you going to wait on pins and needles to see which person comes through the front door?

The alcoholic isn’t going to change unless you change first.

Learn about enabling VS helping alcohol addiction.

Next Step

Holding an Alcoholic Intervention

Alcoholics most likely won’t wake up one day and stop drinking, because in their view, everything in their life is going well. Every alcoholic eventually has an intervention. The question is will it be on the family’s terms or on society’s? An intervention for an alcoholic involves family and friends holding the alcoholic accountable while simultaneously establishing boundaries so that the alcoholic has to get help –the key words being “has to get help.”
Alcoholics aren’t going to stop drinking to fix a problem they don’t believe they have, so as long as they think and feel that everybody and everything else are the problem. 

If your loved one wants to remain an alcoholic, sadly, little can be done, but the family can choose not to put up with it. The family can change its behavior so that only the alcoholic’s resources are involved, not the family’s. But until that happens, nothing is going to change.

The loved one’s alcoholism is not your fault, nor did you create it. However, many families believe that, on some level, it is. If that is the case, the intervention can be an opportunity to offer the alcoholic a gift in exchange for any guilt or shame you may have over past behavior that may be causing the alcoholic’s problem.

You may not have direct control over the alcoholic’s drinking.

What you do have is control over how you deal with it and the role each family member plays in contributing to it. That being said, how much longer are you going to continue enabling at your emotional, mental, physical, financial and spiritual expense? Because right now, the only one benefiting is the alcoholic, and you’re the one paying for it.

Is It Time for an Intervention Quiz

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