Helping an Alcoholic Loved One: Six Practical Steps

Helping an alcoholic loved one is a challenge. It’s frustrating. It can even seem hopeless. The alcoholic is usually a spouse or partner. But it’s often a parent, sibling, or child. Of course, it can also be someone else.

Alcoholism expert Kenneth Anderson provides six practical steps. They can help an alcoholic partner achieve control over their drinking. He focuses on a partner. But his steps for helping an alcoholic can apply to other loved ones.

The Six Steps: Helping an Alcoholic Loved One

1. Establish boundaries.

2. Focus on preventing or reducing the major harms first.

3. Avoid unhelpful actions. Don’t do these.

    • Confront
    • Try to use logical arguments.
    • Interfere with your partner’s techniques for abstaining or controlling drinking.
    • Accept blame for your partner’s drinking problems.
    • Use labels.

4.  Change interaction.

    • helping an alcoholic loved oneUse empathetic listening to stimulate thinking by your partner about the downsides of the person’s current drinking patterns.
    • Help your partner self-develop plans for changing behaviors. Instead of imposing them on the partner.
    • Don’t take any confrontational actions.
    • Show support for every positive change made by your partner as a triumph.
    • Clearly express your needs and concerns to your partner.
    •  Use motivational interviewing.

5. Change your thinking or your situation, if necessary.

 6. Prepare for unexpected changes in your life.

Resources

Readings
Don’t be an Enabler

   Enabling actions can include these.

    • Giving them money for alcohol.
    • Paying their bills.
    • Bailing them out of jail.
    • Making excuses for their actions.
    • Lying for them.
    • In general, making it easy for them to be drunk.
Note
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