Helping an Alcoholic Loved One: Six Practical Steps

Helping an alcoholic loved one is a great 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 the loved ones drinking behavior. Although he focuses on a partner, 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


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. Use motivational interviewing.

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 rather than 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.

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

 6. Prepare for unexpected changes in your life.

To learn more about these helpful steps, visit How to Change Your Spouse’s Drinking.


Two lists of books on coping and helping an alcoholic loved one follow.

WorldCat describes the books on the first list. It’s the world’s largest network of library content and services. Basicly, it’s the largest “library card catalog” in existence.

The second list contains those books for which information is provided on Amazon but not on WorldCat.

I. First List of Self-Help Books for Helping an Alcoholic Loved One

To learn more about a book in this list, simply click on the title. This leads to WorldCat. It describes the book and indicates which libraries have it in their collections. This information helps in requesting books through a library’s inter-library loan service.

II. Second List of Self-Help Books for Helping an Alcoholic Loved One

The following books are not in WorldCat. To learn about a book in this list, visit It describes each book.

    • Alcoholic Husband. By A. Mentoring and J.C. Anon.
    • Alcoholic Spouse. By A. Rosebloom and J.C. Anon.
    • Coping With An Alcoholic. By J.C. Anon.
    • Dealing With Alcoholics. Proven Methods. By J.C. Anon.
    • How To Deal With An Addict. By J.C. Anon.
    • How to Help an Alcoholic. By C.K. Murray.
    • Secret Tips: How To Survive & Help the Alcoholic You Love. By R. Young.
    • Sober Siblings: How to Help Your Alcoholic Brother or Sister. By P. Olsen and P. Levounis.
    • The Wisdom You Need For Learning How To Live With an Alcoholic. By J.C. Anon.
  • Note
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