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.


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.
    • Neither this site nor your host receives any benefit from listing any book.