There’s actually a lot you can do to help someone you care about get ready to quit drinking. Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to, none of us can make someone else stop drinking if they don’t really want to. Most of us feel that if someone (a spouse, child, friend, sibling, parent, partner or relative) cared enough about us, they’d want to quit and be able to do so. That thinking’s not only unhealthy because it fosters resentment but more importantly, it ignores the physiology behind the drinking behavior. People fail to stay sober not because they don’t care enough but because of what’s going on inside their heads.
The single most important thing you can do to help another person quit drinking is to understand what’s causing their seemingly bizarre, frustrating behavior. Once you do, you’re better able to respond in helpful ways that move the individual towards readiness to quit. It’s critically important both for your mental health and for the sake of the relationship that you accept they no longer have a choice not to be thinking about drinking. They can choose not to pick it up but they can’t choose not to think about it. When a person becomes dependent on alcohol they’ve achieved a condition known as Reward Deficiency Syndrome that creates anxiety when they stop drinking that builds until they drink again. Regardless of resolve, most people eventually drink just to stop the anxiety and to feel OK. Having that understanding allows you interact patiently, with compassion and without judgment. That makes the individual less defensive and much more receptive to change.
Simply explaining the actual failure mechanism to someone struggling to quit empowers them. Most alcoholics don’t understand why it’s so difficult for them to maintain abstinence. Invariably, they carry a ton of guilt, embarrassment and self-loathing due to their past failures. By educating them you allow them to shift their negative self-thinking to the actual cause for failure and ultimately what can be done about it. Understanding this failure mechanism provides hope they’ve previously lost.
Some guidelines for your communication
- Be honest in your Communication
- Pick an appropriate time to have a dispassionate conversation
- Focus on the drinking behavior not the individual
- Talk about how the drinking behavior makes you feel
- Discuss good times when alcohol wasn’t involved
- Focus on positive outcomes from change
- Offer to set up a free consultation for information only
- Emphasize the failure mechanism not lack of will power, conviction or character
- Discuss real medication treatment (Go Sober) instead of just “trying harder”
- Talk about how much better everyone will feel
- Talk about short and long term goals
- Accept the past and don’t dwell on it. It’s a condition and it can be treated
- Consider, once it done, it’s done. Move forward. There’re are so many fun and interesting things to do
- Suggest talking with others who’ve done this. Encourage questions
- Talk openly about readiness if possible. Your objectives and timing may not be in sync.
- Print out our reference card and have it available for them to use when the time is right
Remember, you’re not alone and you don’t have to face this alone. We’re here to help you, too. We have a team of trained, experienced counselors who can help you work through these issues and prepare you to help the individual you’re concerned about.
Help Someone Pay for Treatment
For those who are ready to quit but don’t have the resources to pay for treatment, giving the GO SOBER™ Gift Card is the perfect way to show how much you care. GO SOBER™ Gift Cards can be used towards payment for any of the GO SOBER™ products or services for alcoholic treatment in Longmont, CO and can be prepaid for any amount.