Useful Contacts For Alcohol Problems
- Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 .
- Alcoholics Anonymous is a free self-help group. Its “12 step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
- Al-Anon Family Groups offers support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
- We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse. If you are over 50 and worried about your drinking, call 0808 8010 750
- Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and a database of local support groups.
- The National Association for Children of Alcoholics provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
- SMART Recovery groups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.
Caring for an alcoholic? Find out where you can get support.
Do: Seek Counseling Or Therapy
Addiction affects everyone, from the person in treatment to their loved ones. Its important to ensure youre well enough to manage the potential stress of helping someone dealing with addiction. Acknowledging that you may be in over your head and in need of professional help is normal and healthy. Its also necessary for you to help your loved one to the best of your abilities.
Talk To The Drug Addict Alone
For the first conversation, it is important that you drop all expectations and focus on simply trying to get the addict to take a look at the negative consequences of substance abuse. It is very unlikely that out of this one conversation you will be able to get them into treatment so just drop that idea full stop. Instead, think of the first conversations as planting a seed, and speak to them with some gentility. Unfortunately, there is no one way to start the conversation, but it is important to create a sense of empathy, love, support and concern above all.
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Dont 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 werent serious in your concern. This is not to say you cant drink just dont do it around the person you confronted, at least not soon after voicing that concern.
What Do I Do If I Think Someone Is An Alcoholic
If someone close to you is displaying signs of alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to know what to do. You might feel worried about them, frustrated that they dont seem to want help or frightened for them or even by them.2 All of these feelings are normal and there is help out there both for alcoholics and those caring for them.
Talk honestly with your loved one about their drinking, and try to persuade them to see a doctor. It can be very difficult for alcoholics to admit they have a problem but being supportive, open and non-judgemental can make them feel safe.
If you accompany someone to an appointment, try to get a simple explanation for the person in simple language about the illness, the long-term effects and the options for recovery. Ask how you can best support the person perhaps request an out of hours emergency telephone number that may make you feel safer.
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The Dos And Donts Of Helping A Loved One With An Addiction
Once youve noticed the signs of addiction in your loved one like an Alcohol Addiction or an Opioid Addiction, for example youll need to know how to talk to and treat them in a way that is positive and helpful. There are several ways to do this, some easy to practice and others that require a little more effort and understanding on your part. Here are a few dos and donts for helping a loved one deal with addiction:
Do: Take Care Of Yourself
Indulging in self-care is not selfish, especially when youre helping someone dealing with addiction. You cannot let the addiction of your loved one derail your own life. Continue with healthy activities, like hobbies and social outings, and take care to look after yourself. Therapy or counseling is part of that process, but indulging in activities that arent centered around your loved one is necessary. Determine what it is that you need to keep yourself well and indulge in it.
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Talk To Other Family Members Or Friends And Encourage Everyone To Get On The Same Page
Even if youre not enabling the alcoholic in your life, theres a good chance other friends or family members are. The most effective way to bring about sobriety in an alcoholic is to remove the enabling factor. Get his closest family and friends together for a talk. Bring literature youve found helpful. Have an open discussion and try to set some strong boundaries for how to interact with your loved one.
Learning to say no to an alcoholic may be one of the greatest gifts we can ever give them. It isnt easy, but its very effective.
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 like you no longer care about a loved ones 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.
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A Note From Addiction Policy Forum
Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to wait for rock bottom and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomesand that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.
Be Mindful Of Relapse
A person is not cured of alcoholism after they leave rehab. Stressful situations, temptation, and toxic friends and environments can lead someone to start drinking again.
Common signs of alcohol relapse include:
- Elevated stress
- Mood swings and other behavior changes
- Spending time with people who drink
- Missed support group meetings or therapy sessions
- Abandonment of a daily routine
- Behaving in a secretive or isolated manner
- Anxiety and depression
The path to sobriety is not always free of obstacles relapse is a serious threat. If your loved one relapses, dont blame, shame, or get angry encourage your loved one to stop drinking and seek help as soon as possible.
Although rehab and treatment may help in the short-term, sobriety is a lifelong journey. Relapse may occur, and it is important that your loved one has ongoing, positive support to help them avoid slipping back into full-blown addiction. Remain supportive and avoid enablement with these tips, you can help your loved one recover from alcoholism and enjoy a sober lifestyle.
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Get Help For Yourself
Remember to take care of yourself, too. The emotional impact of helping a loved one stay sober can take a toll. Seek help from a therapist or a counselor if you feel stressed or depressed. You can also participate in a program thats designed for the friends and family members of alcoholics, such as Al-Anon.
General Tips For Quitting Drinking
All in all, the best way to quit varies from individual to individual, depending on their drinking habits, genetics, reasons for drinking, personal history, personality, and many other factors. Each person will need to consider their specific goals, and find a combination of the above methods that works well for themideally after consulting a doctor.
That said, here are some good general tips for quitting alcohol. Included are resources, basic strategies, tips for self-care, and some important things to keep in mind as you go forward. In brief, we recommend:
- Creating a solid plan beforehand
- Finding a reliable support team
- Making use of medication for alcoholism
- Talking with a doctor before attempting cold turkey
- Cutting back on alcohol first
- Choosing some self-care strategies
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How To Accomplish Your Goals
After youve set your goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish these goals. For example:
Get rid of temptations. Remove all alcohol, barware, and other alcohol-related paraphernalia from your home and office.
Announce your goal. Let friends, family members, and co-workers know that youre trying to stop or cut back on drinking. If they drink, ask them to support your recovery by not doing so in front of you.
Be upfront about your new limits. Make it clear that drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend events where alcohol is being served.
Avoid bad influences. Distance yourself from people who dont support your efforts to stop drinking or respect the limits youve set. This may mean giving up certain friends and social connections.
Learn from the past. Reflect on previous attempts to stop or reduce your drinking. What worked? What didnt? What can you do differently this time to avoid pitfalls?
Dont 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.
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When Should Someone Seek Help
Individuals often hide their drinking or deny they have a problem. How can you tell if you or someone you know is in trouble? Signs of a possible problem include having friends or relatives express concern, being annoyed when people criticize your drinking, feeling guilty about your drinking and thinking that you should cut down but finding yourself unable to do so, or needing a morning drink to steady your nerves or relieve a hangover.
Some people with drinking problems work hard to resolve them. With the support of family members or friends, these individuals are often able to recover on their own. However, those with alcohol dependence usually can’t stop drinking through willpower alone. Many need outside help. They may need medically supervised detoxification to avoid potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures. Once people are stabilized, they may need help resolving psychological issues associated with problem drinking.
There are several approaches available for treating alcohol problems. No one approach is best for all individuals.
Handling Setbacks In Your Recovery
Alcohol recovery is a processone that often involves setbacks. Dont give up if you relapse or slip. A drinking relapse doesnt mean youre a failure or that youll never be able to reach your goal. Each drinking relapse is an opportunity to learn and recommit to sobriety, so youll be less likely to relapse in the future.
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Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey
Cold turkey refers to quitting alcohol, or any addictive substance, abruptly. This often results in withdrawal symptoms, physical and mental discomfort, and a week or so of limited activity while your body goes through detox.
This isnt always necessary, but some people prefer to go straight through withdrawalthe equivalent of ripping off a band-aid. The advantage can be that you push through the physical symptoms quickly, and come out the other side ready to change your habits. The downside is that cold turkey can also leave you feeling drained and vulnerable. This might actually encourage relapse, and then make you scared to quit again.
The biggest issue with cold turkey is that withdrawal symptoms can be severe enough to threaten a persons safety. In the case of alcohol, they can even be life-threatening.
Drug Or Alcohol Abuse Symptoms
Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive list of symptoms that may be displayed by a person struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. Many of these may be internal experiences for that individual however, symptoms that may be evident to others include:
- Appearing intoxicated more and more often
- Developing problems with cognition and memory
- Being lethargic, sleeping more, sleeping irregular hours, or appearing unwell or tired
- Developing problems at work or school possibly losing ones job or dropping out of school
- Attending social events only if drugs or alcohol are available becoming intoxicated before the social event or attending fewer social events specifically to drink or use drugs
- Stealing money or valuables to pay for drugs
- Lying about the substance or how much they are using
- Becoming angry, sad, or lashing out when questioned about their substance abuse
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to take the drug
- Neglected appearance and poor hygiene
People who struggle with substance abuse problems are likely to behave differently when they are intoxicated versus when they are sober they may say or do hurtful things, and they are likely to take serious risks with their life, such as driving while intoxicated. These behavioral problems can cause intense worry and fear in loved ones.
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The Importance Of Persistence
Because AUD can be a chronic relapsing disease, persistence is key. It is rare that someone would go to treatment once and then never drink again. More often, people must repeatedly try to quit or cut back, experience recurrences, learn from them, and then keep trying. For many, continued follow up with a treatment provider is critical to overcoming problem drinking.
Offering Protection To People With Alcoholic Denial
Loved ones sometimes protect the person who is experiencing an alcohol problem, making excuses for their poor behaviors and failure to manage responsibilities.
This type of enabling can come in many forms, such as:
- paying bills the person cant or wont
- working on jobs around the house they failed to complete
- co-workers completing projects that they flaked out on
- posting bail repeatedly for them to get out of jail
- covering attorney or court fees for legal issues
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Looking For Rehab: What To Consider
If youre thinking about getting help for an AUD, there are some things to consider when looking for treatment:
- Medical detox. The withdrawal syndrome from alcohol can be very dangerous, sometimes inducing seizures and/or delirium tremens. If youre thinking of quitting alcohol, you need to line up a detox program. Some rehabs will include medical detox as part of the program.
- Qualifications of staff. When searching for programs, ask about staff credentials. This will help you to determine the quality of care youll receive and may help you feel confident about receiving treatment.
- Cost. First, start by asking if the program takes your insurance, if you have it. Have your insurance card with you when you call so that you have the necessary information at hand. You might also ask about options like financing, loans, and sliding scales .
- Amenities. When youre going to live at a rehab for 1-3 months or more, your comfort is important. If there are amenities that you know are must-haves, such as a private room, ask any potential programs if they offer them. However, do remember that your sobriety is priority #1, and benefits like pools, gourmet meals, and more are secondary.
Alcohol Or Drug Addiction: How To Help Someone
When someone you love is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, it may seem like theres not much you can do to help. Perhaps youve tried to show the individual how their drug addiction is impacting everything in their lives, but they just arent ready to see it. Or, maybe youre just unsure how to help someone. Dont let this get you down its common to struggle with thoughts like What can I do? or Did I do enough? or Have I done too much? when someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse problem, especially when that is paired with mental illness.
Loving an addict through his or her addiction is hard enough on the family members, friends, and support networks that put themselves out day-after-day to help the individual. While every situation that involves alcohol or drug addiction and helping someone is different, there are some basic guidelines that you can follow to ensure youre doing the best you can to help someone with an addiction. For example:
If youre thinking, Ive already tried all of these things, and NOTHING seems to work, Youre not alone! Addiction is a challenging disease that can leave those of us on the outside feeling like we have tried it all, and nothing has worked. But dont give up. Helping someone with addiction certainly requires patience and understanding as you navigate the road to recovery.
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