Helping Your Loved One With a Drinking Problem

How to Help an Alcoholic

Helping Your Loved One With a Drinking Problem

If your loved one has a drinking problem, they are not alone. Alcohol use disorder (AUD), more commonly known as alcoholism, is a chronic relapsing brain disease that develops with alcohol abuse or dependency on alcohol. 

Your loved one may binge drink, abuse alcohol, or have alcoholism, but there are key differences between the three types of alcohol problems. That said, one problem can lead to the next. If you’re wondering how to help someone stop drinking, you should first understand the levels of alcohol problems.

Binge drinking is defined as a drinking pattern that elevates one’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 g/dL. One’s BAC level differs depending on a gamut of factors—from food intake, weight, and medications (or lack thereof). But it typically reaches .08 g/dL after four drinks for women and five drinks for men in about two hours.

Those suffering from alcohol addiction, un binge drinkers, continue to drink alcohol despite: 

  • Recurrent, alcohol-induced health problems
  • Social consequences
  • Occupational consequences
  • Legal consequences 

However, people who abuse alcohol may have an easier time breaking their habits than people who struggle with alcoholism.

Alcoholism is the inability to control drinking due to both a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol, including alcoholism. 

AUD changes the chemical makeup of one’s brain, which drives them to drink first for pleasure and then to avoid withdrawal symptoms. People who have alcoholism tend to suffer from withdrawals while they’re not drinking, which can make quitting even more difficult. 

If your loved one has an alcohol dependence, there are ways you can help. Professional help is available.

How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

How do you help an alcoholic in your family? You can help an alcoholic family member to reduce or quit their alcohol consumption, detox, and improve their overall well-being.

If you are a close family member, you may not want to push this person away. Instead, you may try to avoid confrontation in order to keep the peace.

But it’s important not to be an enabler by financially supporting your family member’s bad behaviors, making excuses for them, and ultimately denying their alcohol problem.

While you may not want to believe that they have an alcohol problem either, the quicker they can get professional help, the easier their recovery process will be.

Family therapy is a great option to find out what may be triggering your loved one to drink.

If you cannot get your loved one to attend family therapy, however, staging an intervention with your other family members can help them open up and hold them accountable for their behaviors.

As an interventionist, you are letting them know that you are not going to tolerate their drinking problem but that you care to support them along their recovery journey.

Rehabilitation Services To Help You Overcome Your Alcohol Use Disorder. Alcohol Rehab Help Has Specialized Drug And Alcohol Rehab Facilities Across The U.S.

Call now (855) 772-9047

How to Help an Alcoholic Spouse

What about getting an alcoholic help if you’re married to one? Helping your spouse is helping any other family member. While you may feel a responsibility for your spouse, it is their responsibility to take accountability over their own actions.

Again, it’s important not to be an enabler. While you may support your spouse financially, giving them spending money without questioning what you suspect they’re going to spend it on permits their bad behavior. wise, drinking or keeping alcohol in the house can make it more difficult for them to quit.

While a drinking problem can certainly take a toll on a marriage, traditional talk therapy for couple’s can help. If your spouse is willing to seek treatment, it’s also important to reach out to health professionals for addiction help.

How to Help an Alcoholic Friend

If you have a friend who is struggling with alcoholism, you can help them by supporting them in quitting drinking. Staging an intervention with your friend to let them know that you are concerned is one positive first step. Drinking around them will not help their sobriety efforts. Engage in other social activities together that do not involve alcohol.

Help your friend seek professional help. You can help them research local treatment centers, and you may even be able to go with them to group therapy sessions if they want your company.

You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.

Call now (855) 772-9047

How to Help an Alcoholic in Denial

Wondering how to help an alcoholic in denial? It’s not easy to help someone in denial who doesn’t believe that they need help. An alcoholic in denial needs to admit to their drinking problem and acknowledge that they need help before they’re willing to accept it. It can take a lot of time before an alcoholic admits to needing help.

Follow the steps above to support the person with alcoholism. If you don’t enable this person and hold them accountable for their actions, they may come around and agree to receive professional help.

Addiction Treatment Options for Your Loved One 

Fortunately, there are different alcohol and drug addiction treatment options for those facing alcohol use disorder (AUD). These include support groups, traditional therapies, medical treatments, and more. 

Here are some options to get you started:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

AA is a global, community-driven program that involves regular accountability meetings and group discussions surrounding addiction.

It’s “nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere.

” AA uses a 12-Step approach to overcoming alcohol addiction, which include admitting to addiction, making conscious choices to change, and using prayer and meditation.

Addiction Rehab Options

There are both inpatient and outpatient treatment options for those seeking a rehabilitation center. Rehab centers offer medical support from trusted healthcare professionals, as well as supervision during the withdrawal journey and recovery phase. Sober living houses are more involved treatment facilities than outpatient centers.


Counseling through traditional talk therapy can help someone with an alcohol addiction discover any mental illness or emotional baggage that may trigger their addiction. Identifying the causes can help them to overcome their addiction in a healthy way. Group and family therapy are great options for people who want to go through it with peer support and/or their loved ones.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication for alcoholism is usually used in combination with other methods of treatment to help someone detox from alcohol. A medical professional will assess them to prescribe the best medication for them, given their health history and needs. 

Medication might include Naltrexone that can help to reduce alcohol cravings. Acamprosate can also help to repair the brain. And Disulfiram can trigger a negative physical reaction to alcohol to help prevent someone from drinking it.

Questions About Addiction Treatment?

Figuring out how to help someone with alcoholism isn’t easy on your own. If you have questions about an alcohol problem or addiction treatment, reach out to a professional treatment provider.

What's Next?


Helping A Loved One With A Drinking Problem

Helping Your Loved One With a Drinking Problem

It is natural to want to help a close friend or loved one when they are in a predicament, especially if that predicament is a drinking problem. However, the problem can become more complicated if your loved one doesn’t notice that there is one. One example of this is alcoholism.

If you believe that a loved one has a drinking problem, you may notice it but not know exactly how to help. You may not even know if it even is a drinking problem. Moreover, you might be worried to even bring it up as you don’t want them to get angry or you don’t want to offend them.

With that said, it is better to bring it up and talk about it if you do believe that there is a serious problem. If you are concerned about a loved one’s health when it comes to drinking, or substance abuse in general, do not wait to bring it up. The problem will most ly get worse, not better, if you wait to talk about it.

But, again, what do you say? How do you say it? When you notice that there is a problem, how do you proceed? All of these are important questions and ones that you need to learn about and address, but, first you need to examine the situation and understand if there is a actually a problem or not.

What is Considered A Drinking Problem?

While you can look at how many drinks a person has to determine if a person may be overindulging in alcohol, it is better to look at how the drinking is affecting someone’s day-to-day life. For example, if they are missing commitments and social activities, or are having trouble with relationships because of drinking those can be signs that they have a drinking problem.

The recommended amount of drinks that a person should consume without too much health risks is 14 drinks per week for men and 7 drinks per week for women. But again, the more important thing to look at when it comes to drinking problems is how the alcohol affects someone’s social and professional life.

“A good indicator is that something is whack. Is your personal life deteriorating because of your drinking? Are people starting to shun you? If you’re feeling generally miserable, that’s a warning sign,” said Dr. George Koob, director of the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

To determine is someone has an alcohol use disorder, you can ask these questions:

In the past year has the person

  • Drank more or longer than they planned on drinking?
  • Tried or wanted to cut down or stop drinking but couldn’t?
  • Had withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol was wearing off? Symptoms include shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, nausea, and more.

A full list of questions to ask can be found here.

Excessive drinking can lead to a number of health issues and negative effects on the body. For one, drinking too much can interfere with brain communication pathways and lead to short-term disruptions in mood and cognitive and motor abilities.

However, in the long term, over drinking can cause many heart and liver problems. For example, drinking a lot over time can cause irregular heartbeat, stroke, and high blood pressure, all of which can be detrimental to your health.

Furthermore, heavy drinking takes a major toll on the liver, causing liver scarring and, if the situation gets bad enough, can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

Along with these organ problems, drinking is also known to increase the risk of a number of different types of cancers including oral, colon, liver, and breast cancers.

Because of this, helping a loved one with an alcohol use disorder should not be put off. Get help for your loved one immediately if they are struggling with substance abuse.

How To Help

Once you determine if your loved one has a drinking problem, it may be hard to know what to do next. To help understand what do next, it may be best to focus on what you should not do:

  • Don’t make excuses for your loved one’s drinking if there is a problem
  • Don’t take on responsibilities, it will make it easier for your loved one to avoid the consequences of their actions
  • Avoid arguing when your loved one has been drinking, it will ly lead to nothing productive
  • Do not feel guilty, their problem is not your fault. You can’t control it, but you may be able to help

It is not an easy thing to do to talk with a loved one about about their drinking. The best way to go about this is, as mentioned before, find a time to talk when the person is not drinking.

When you are talking about a loved one about a drinking problem that you believe they have, the NIAAA recommends focusing on three major therapeutic principles: empathy, goals, and choice.


Previous approaches to alcohol treatment have taken confrontational styles in which they are supposed to “break through” the denial.

However, the NIAAA says that research does not support this approach.

Instead, it is best to communicate a sense of understanding and support and encourage your loved one to discuss their drinking and help them look at the problems that are associated with it.


It can also be helpful to lay out a set of goals for your loved one when discussing their drinking habits. For example, it can be beneficial to bring up their children or friends when talking about their problem, as motivation to help them get sober.


Providing clients who have drinking problems with choices about which treatment options they can decide from. Instead of assuming full control over the situation, providing them with a course of action that they can choose from allows them to maintain power while still doing what they need to do to get sober.

Staging An Intervention

An intervention is one of the many tools that people will use to help their loved ones become aware of their problematic behavior and help motivate them to seek help for their substance abuse issue.

It can be challenging to help a loved one struggling with some sort of addiction, the problem can be even more difficult if they can’t see or don’t acknowledge the problem themselves. In these cases, an intervention may be the best path forward.

An intervention is a planned process that can be done by friends and family, in consultation with a medical professional. During the intervention, people will gather to speak to your loved one about the consequences of addiction and ask them to accept treatment.

It should be noted that interventions are high-stress situations and that they can lead to angry outburst, and feelings of resentment or betrayal.

Steps For An Intervention

There is a normal step-by-step process that most interventions go through. The process is as follows:

1. Making a plan — The first step is to figure out how to go about this. Propose an intervention with other family members and friends. This should be done while consulting a counselor, addiction professional, or other medical expert.

2. Gathering information — The second step for setting up an intervention is to learn more about treatment options and facilities that can help your loved one.

3. Bring other people in — It is best to bring in other people for an intervention, close friends and family members are best. Setting up a date and coming up with a cohesive message and plan for how to present that message is important. Some interventions enlist the help of an addiction professional to be there on the day of the intervention.

4. Decide on consequences — It is important to set pre-made boundaries and actions that you will take if your loved one does not want to accept treatment.

5. Know what to say — Each family member and friend should describe specific incidents with your loved one that caused some type of problem. Talking about the toll that their behavior has had can help open their eyes to the impact that their drinking has on others.


Hold the intervention — Bring your loved one to the agreed upon location of the intervention and have members of the group go around and express their concerns and feelings about the person’s substance problems. They will be presented with treatment options and asked if they will accept that option then. Remember, giving them control over choosing which treatment option is important.

7. Follow up — Many treatment centers will involve family members and other close people with someone who is in treatment to help avoid relapse. Furthermore, your loved one will need your support to stay strong following rehabilitation

It is important to plan the intervention carefully so that it works as intended. If the intervention is planned poorly, it can make the situation worse.

Interventions For Youth

According to information from the NIAAA, 1.4 million youth aged 12 to 17 meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence. However, not even a quarter million of the youth meeting the criteria received any treatment for these disorders.

Unsuccessful Intervention

Unfortunately, not all interventions end up being successful. In fact, in some cases, your loved one might just flat out refuse the treatment plan. You should prepare yourself for his outcome while still remaining hopeful for a positive change.

Helping After Rehab

Sobriety is not something that is solved after going to a rehabilitation facility, it is a lifelong battle that many will struggle with. It is common for people who have gone through treatment to relapse, but this is not always the case.

One of the factors that can lead to long, successful sobriety following a drinking problem is social support. In fact, according to one study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, support from family and friends has been cited as an important factor in recovery, especially long-term recovery.

“As previously discussed, recovery is a dynamic process that makes changing demands over time in terms of coping strategies and can thus be stressful.

Social support has several benefits that may contribute to the recovery process over time. For example, social support has been found to buffer stress.

Moreover, the support of, particularly recovering peers, provides hope, coping strategies and role models, giving strength in trying times,” the study said.

While family and friends can play an important role in helping someone maintain sobriety, many people not know what to do to help this process. Overall, friends and family are there to help to provide social support and motivation for individuals with substance abuse problems to stay sober and avoid relapse.

The motivation that friends and family provide can be something that might be needed even during rehab to help them stay on the straight path toward sobriety. While there are a lot of factors that determine whether a patient will stay in treatment or not, one big factor is the social support that they can receive from family and friends.

For some treatment centers, counselors may bring in family members to participate in family therapy sessions which can further educate and inform not only the family members but people going through therapy and counselors as well.

It should also be noted that there evidence that indicates that substance abuse treatment includes family therapy works better than substance abuse treatments that do not.

It can increase engagement, retention, reduces drug and alcohol uses, improves family and social functioning, and discourages relapse.

In Conclusion

Alcohol use disorder is a serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Unchecked drinking problems can lead to a number of negative health consequences. If a loved one is dealing with excessive alcohol use, Landmark Recovery can help.

At Landmark, our medical professionals use a evidence-based and holistic approach to recovery that can help your loved one achieve sobriety.

If you would more information on a personalized path forward and how Landmark can help, please visit our website here and reach out to our admissions staff at 888-488-0302.

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Tips on How to Help Someone Stop Drinking

Helping Your Loved One With a Drinking Problem

If you or someone you love has been through alcohol or drug treatment, you’ve ly heard something along the lines of, “You can’t make an addict stop. They will only stop when they’re ready.”

While the addict is the only person who can stop their own alcohol use, loved ones can still take certain steps to try and curb addictive behaviors. The following methods may help bring light to your loved one’s drinking or drug problem. Here are some tips on how to help an alcoholic stop drinking.

Related Topic: Can you force someone into rehab

Article at a Glance:

  • Good communication and encouraging someone to talk about why they drink can help someone quit alcohol.
  • Citing specific examples of the effects of someone’s drinking are more effective than giving an ultimatum.
  • Talking with someone who has been successful in quitting drinking can help a person feel less alone in their battle with alcohol.
  • Never drink around a person with an alcohol problem or enable them to drink.
  • Offer treatment resources and continue to support your loved one as they try to stop drinking.

1. Open the lines of communication

The person you are concerned about is never going to know you’re concerned unless you voice that. This may be an uncomfortable conversation for you and the drinker, but it is a necessary one. You could call this an “intervention,” or simply a conversation.

  Interventions are typically more serious and have more concerned people in attendance, so it depends on the specifics of the situation.

Whether an intervention or a conversation, the desired end result is the same: bring attention to a loved one’s drinking, and hope they can understand where your concern is coming from. If they can, they are one step closer to recovery.

2. Make it comfortable to talk about the underlying cause contributing to their drinking

Very rarely do people drink simply to drink. Often they struggle with depression or anxiety and drink as a way to self-medicate.

It is important to acknowledge that you think there may be an underlying mental health issue that results in drinking. Try not to sound accusatory, especially if the person may not know they suffer from depression or anxiety.

Instead, ask them gently if they think there could be a contributing cause to their drinking. Feel out their response, and go from there.

3. Be ready with concrete examples of why you think there may be a problem

Before seriously confronting someone about their drug or alcohol use, spend some time thinking about the reasons you have for being concerned. Be ready to offer these up as examples when having a conversation with your loved ones. If you say you are concerned but have no solid reasoning, your loved one isn’t ly to take you seriously.

4. Don’t offer an ultimatum

More often than not, someone with a drinking problem will choose alcohol over any other option they are given, resulting in more stress, frustration and pain.

Instead of offering ultimatums, offer advice or options for help.

This means doing your research ahead of time and knowing some good programs to refer a loved one to, or being familiar with a professional they can talk to for help.

5. Don’t pass judgment or shame

Making an addict feel more shame or lowering their self-esteem will do no good in a situation such as this. Remember, alcoholism is a disease.

If you have not been through it, do your best not to make any judgments when someone you love is struggling with it. Not only do you not understand it firsthand, but you may also do more harm than good.

Shaming an addict will only make them turn to what coats their emotions, which is ly drinking. The approach of judgment and shame does nobody good in the end.

6. Utilize the people in your life

If you know someone who has successfully quit drinking, speak with them. Ask them how they finally came to terms with their problem and how they were initially approached. Of course, what works for one person will not necessarily work for everyone.

However, if you think their experience sounds similar to that of your loved one, ask them if they’d be willing to talk to that person for you.

Sometimes information and concern coming from someone who has been through recovery mean more than when they come from someone who has not.

7. Offer resources to your loved one

Sobriety and recovery will seem a lot less daunting if they have a starting point. Be ready to direct them to a treatment program you think may be a good fit or to online resources.

There is a wealth of information about recovery, and it can be overwhelming to decide where to start in the early stages of sobriety.

If you can make that task a little more manageable, your loved one is more ly to take advantage of the work you’ve put into their well-being.

8. Don’t drink around the person

Once you approach someone about their potential alcohol problem, it would be highly inconsiderate and counterproductive to drink alcohol in their presence.

Drinking around the person could lead them to want to drink, or make them believe you weren’t serious in your concern.

This is not to say you can’t drink — just don’t do it around the person you confronted, at least not soon after voicing that concern.

9. Do not enable them

Enabling an addict means that your behavior somehow allows them to continue their use. This could mean making excuses for them or bailing them bad situations. While it may be difficult to practice tough love, it will be beneficial for the addict in the end.

The longer people allow their use to continue, the longer they will take advantage of that fact. Enabling can also mean doing things for an addict that they are plenty capable of doing themselves.

Part of recovery and sobriety is learning how to be self-sufficient, a skill that will never be refined if someone continues taking on an addict’s responsibilities.

10. No matter what, continue to be supportive throughout their recovery

Show them that you are proud of them and will support them throughout their journey, including getting treatment or attending meetings and support groups.

This usually also means educating yourself on their addiction and getting support for yourself as an impacted loved one. Continued support is vital for continued recovery.

The moment it seems you no longer care about a loved one’s recovery, they will pick up on it.

If a loved one in your life is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us to discuss intervention help, treatment options and available resources to help your loved one on the road to recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

View our editorial policy or view our research.

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