3 ways you can support the alcoholic without supporting the alcoholism
Alcoholics often realize that they have a problem, but they will do everything they can to rationalize their drinking. Because of this, it can take a very long time for them to confront their alcoholism and choose to quit. To help them reach this point without damaging the relationship, utilize these tips to support the alcoholic but not the alcoholism.
Encourage activities without alcohol
One of the best ways to help your friend overcome alcoholism is by suggesting fun activities where alcohol is not allowed. While sporting events and concerts are fun, your friend will be tempted to drink as usual. Instead, invite him or her to go hiking in the woods, or join a game of Frisbee in the park.
Activities like hiking are a great way to get their mind off drinking. First of all, they will be in an area where alcohol is discouraged or even forbidden. Secondly, light physical activity can help an alcoholic to feel better without the help of alcohol. While one hike won’t cure their alcoholism, it’s a positive step in the right direction.
Other fun activities include workshops where you can both learn a new skill. You can find workshops for cooking, woodwork, and nearly any other craft you can think of. Try a group lesson for piano or another musical instrument in the hope of inspiring a new hobby.
The goal of these activities is to get them away from alcohol, (a crucial step in fighting alcoholism), for a short period of time and to spark interest in a new activity. If they become interested in hiking or crafts, they may wish to spend more time sober in order to advance their new hobby. Remember not to pressure your friend, and try to find an activity that you both enjoy so that it can happen again.
Limit your drinking in their presence
If you drink in the company of your alcoholic friends, you may be subtly encouraging alcoholism behavior. Even if you consume just one beer, they will likely find ways of rationalizing and normalizing their behavior. One of the key difficulties alcoholics face is accepting their problem. They will always find ways to rationalize their own drinking, and by seeing their friends drink, they will constantly tell themselves that it’s normal to drink. They will do this even if they are drinking far more than you or others in the group.
To help them wrestle alcoholism, try to avoid consuming alcohol in their presence. They will soon feel the pressure to limit their drinking, and they will have a more difficult time accepting their habits. This will not be an instant or major change, but it’s a small step towards helping them accept their problem.
Express your concerns, but don’t be pushy
Alcoholism is a disease, and no amount of force can get the alcoholic to stop. The willingness to quit must come from the alcoholic and not from their friends or loved ones. As much as you want to help, you must wait for them to come to the realization themselves.
To support them, try using positive reinforcement to lead them towards a healthier lifestyle or even towards an alcoholism detox center. Instead of telling them that they look unhealthy, try mentioning how healthy they looked before they started drinking. Remind them of the activities you used to do together before their drinking became a problem, and let them know that you are there for them. Many alcoholics understand that they have a problem, but they bury the thought deep inside of themselves in the hope of ignoring the alcoholism. Subtly bring the problem to the surface without accusations or anger, and they will likely start to think of it themselves.
By supporting the alcoholic, you will help them to confront their own demons while encouraging change. Over time, they may wish to receive treatment for their alcoholism, but this desire must come from them. While quitting is ideal, some alcoholics may need professional help during detox to ensure that they stay healthy and safe during the process. If you are concerned for their safety during detox, refer them to a local help center to ensure success.