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Having a friend or loved one who struggles with alcohol abuse can be an overwhelming situation. Whether they’re just getting help or have been in recovery for a while, saying and doing the right thing can be tricky. Handling the situation the right way can make the difference between helping or enabling your loved one.
Here are a few suggestions on navigating their recovery with them:
DO: Learn as much as you can about alcoholism. By arming yourself with the facts, you will be able to walk with them through this and offer help when they need it.
DON’T: Preaching or lecturing will not help your loved one. If they are already seeking help, they are aware of their problem and don’t need to be reminded on an ongoing basis. Berating them will only drive a wedge in your relationship and remove the support they desperately need to recover.
DO: Support their recovery continually. There is no “quick fix” to addiction so be prepared for the long game. It’s an ongoing process involving accountability and therapy so always encourage them to stay focused on their treatment. By attending Alanon or therapy you learn about family recovery.
DON’T: Don’t enable or make excuses for them. Part of their recovery is taking responsibility for their own actions and enabling will just hinder their progress. You won’t be doing them any favors by releasing them from the consequences of their behavior. Be supportive without doing for others what they should be doing for themselves.
DO: Express concern if you feel they are sliding backwards in their recovery. Encourage them to meet with their therapist or sponsor to stay on track. If you have a love one who hasn’t been diagnosed with an addiction but you have concerns about their drinking habits, confronting them about it is the loving thing to do. It may be what brings them out of denial and helps them make the first steps to getting help.
DON’T: Don’t blame yourself for your loved one’s addiction. You did not cause their addiction and you can’t cure it. They made their own choices and have to take responsibility for it. Your role is to support them, encourage them and help them form new, healthy habits.
If you feel a loved one may be abusing alcohol, visit http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/SUMMIT for a free, confidential screening test, helpful resources and more information about alcohol abuse recovery. Call The Summit at 678-893-5300 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or intervention consultation.