What Are the Best Ways to Help a Recovering Alcoholic?
If you have a loved one battling to overcome a drinking problem, they may need your input and guidance more than you — or they — realize. Being positive, hopeful and encouraging can strengthen their determination and greatly assist their quest for lasting sobriety.
Here are some concrete ways you can help a recovering alcoholic:
Offer Praise and Acknowledgment for Every Moment of Success
Reliving past failures isn’t constructive, but focusing too much on a wonderful future that’s still months or years away won’t do much good either.
Addiction can only be defeated one day, one hour, one moment at a time: keep your feedback grounded in the present, acknowledging success as it happens, and you’ll help your loved one create a positive dynamic that supports the healing process. Alcoholism recovery is a lifetime project and it can’t be accomplished without an optimistic attitude and a consistent approach.
Be Wise and Observant
Alcohol recovery strategies should be practical and easy to follow. A recovering alcoholic needs sound, solid advice, not empty motivational speeches, clichés or hollow pats on the back.
For example, based on your personal observations you can help your loved one identify the specific triggers that leave them open to temptation and prone to episodes of binge or compulsive drinking. Knowledge is power, and recovering alcoholics who know their own weaknesses are better prepared to overcome them.
Don’t Ask Too Many Questions
Your intentions may be honorable, but if you’re constantly asking your friend or family member how they’re feeling, if they miss alcohol, if they’ve been attending all their 12-step meetings, and so on, it can leave them feeling pestered, besieged and defensive and quite literally drive them back to drink.
By all means you should let them know you’re there to offer guidance and moral support 24-7. But a recovering alcoholic doesn’t want to focus on their addiction all the time, and it can actually undermine their resolve and sense of purpose if you try to make them do so. In general, you’ll be more helpful if you talk to them about other subjects, particularly those that involve their hopes, dreams and life interests. Remind them what they’re fighting for and let them figure out the rest.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak About Your Own Personal Experiences
Recovery from alcoholism is a daunting challenge, and people going through it look for inspiration wherever they can find it.
Don’t worry about stealing anyone’s thunder. Your stories of personal transcendence and beating the odds can really make an impact, and you shouldn’t be reluctant to share them with those who need prodigious quantities of hope as they prepare to face the most powerful opponent they’ll ever encounter.