Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a dark place to be, and for many people it is extremely difficult to understand how to best support someone with this condition. So many times you read articles, hear about the struggles, and are told what to do if you think you may have this condition, but not many people are talking about how to support someone with alcoholism. The aspect of support can be almost as difficult as having an alcohol dependence itself.
The overall experience of alcoholism can vary with each person, as does the support they may need. Some are high-functioning alcoholics, meaning they perform well at work and can maintain relationships, and some struggle just maintaining a job or even doing daily activities without the consumption of alcohol. Regardless of the severity, it is often extremely difficult for the person suffering from alcohol dependence to admit that they have a problem, which can make it difficult to support, especially if they are noticeably struggling.
If you notice that someone you love and care about is struggling with alcohol dependence, it is so important to actively support that person. This support can come in many forms, such as: helping them get medical support, mental health or therapy support, and just keeping the door open for conversation about their condition. So many people with alcoholism feel very alone and embarrassed about having a dependence on this substance, so just letting a person know that you’re open to discussing the topic can make a world of a difference.
The support of family and friends does not end once the person is in some type of treatment. This person is going to need continual support and love from those around them in order for them to continue on their treatment path. Some ways that you can support your loved on while in treatment for alcoholism are:
- Get rid of any substances in the house. Pour out or conceal any alcoholic substances that could trigger the user. While the “out of sight, out of mind” tactic won’t take away the dependence all together, eliminating these substances shows that everyone is committed to helping that person live a healthy lifestyle and avoid the temptation certain substances may give.
- Create a plan for healthy eating and regular exercise. Families of alcoholics may have experienced a decrease in family time and many times, treatment plans try to include some type of exercise/healthy eating. By practicing these types of activities together, not only are you creating a healthier lifestyle for the both of you, but showing interest in their treatment can also help strengthen your bond together by doing activities that involve the both of you.
- Attend family therapy together. Substance abuse often puts a strain on relationships; even if you think you’re fine, it’s best for everyone involved to actively be aware how this treatment is affecting them. Attending family therapy offers an incredible third-person, unbiased view that will give you all ways to cope in this life-changing journey. Many treatment centers offer some type of therapy that is structured on rebuilding those relationships and trust since they are the main things that are lost due to alcoholism.
- Offering rides to and from treatment. If the person recovering attends some type of outpatient treatment, they may need help getting there. Driving them to and from treatment can help them avoid any temptation that might strike along the way, like passing by liquor stores or bars. It also ensures that they are on time and making it to their treatment. That time together in the car can also be a great time for the two of you to discuss their treatment progress and treatment plan, creating another safe space for that individual.
- Help them manage their resources. When a person is focused solely on their treatment, they may need help in other departments of life. Treatment can be expensive, and they may need help with medications, living situations, meals, and any other type of daily expense. There are a variety of resources that can be available through insurance, the treatment center, and even meal services that can help alleviate the financial stress that alcohol treatment might bring. Having another person help manage some of these things can help the person focus on their treatment and avoid slipping into alcoholic habits due to stress.
Staying sober is a lifelong process and although treatment will eventually come to an end, long term support is so important for friends and family to understand. Be positive about a person’s journey through treatment, it will have its ups and downs. At Go Sober, we offer support for those struggling with alcohol dependence as well as provide outlets for their friends and family. We would be happy to talk with you about all ways to support a sober lifestyle, call us today at 303-827-4837.