Proven Tips for Helping a Loved One Who Misuses Alcohol

A group of friends providing support to each other
July 15, 2021
|   Updated:
August 15, 2023

1. Understand the Disease to Provide Better Support

Not everyone who misuses alcohol has an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). However, because of negative stereotypes and misinformation, many people who may fall on the spectrum of AUD do not seek the help they need to get better. Leslie Martin, a licensed clinical social worker explains how “[Seeing] the disease as an all or nothing dichotomy [is a] challenge that prevents people from being able to seek care.”


If you have a loved one who is misusing alcohol, be sure to educate yourself on the disease in order to provide the best help. Doing your research can help you gain knowledge and empathy, showing your loved one that you are taking the steps to truly understand their situation.


2. Suggest Treatment and Other Ways to Manage AUD

Once you have educated yourself on your loved one’s potential AUD, it can be beneficial to suggest treatment to those who need it. This can be a difficult conversation because of the stigma associated with it. Dominic Angres, Executive Director of Positive Sobriety Institute reminds us that there are a variety of different tactics that treatment providers and individuals can use to manage alcohol addiction and strengthen recovery skills.


The many different treatment options that include both inpatient and outpatient programs means that there is an option best tailored for your loved one’s situation. Explain to your loved on that Treatment is not something to be ashamed about. Rather, it is a way to empower oneself to get better.


3. Remind Yourself and Your Loved One that Relapse is a Normal Part of Recovery

Don’t give up on a loved one who has one or many relapse instances and encourage them not to give up on themselves. More than 70% of people who misuse alcohol will relapse at some point.

Falling back into old habits is not a moral failing nor is it the fault of the person with AUD. AUD is a chronic disease that takes consistent accountability to manage.


For loved ones who have completed treatment, try suggesting aftercare options such as recovery coaches, outpatient follow-up programs, support networks such as AA or SMART Recovery, and Alcohol Monitoring systems such as Soberlink. The continued support that these aftercare options provide are essential for long-term success.


4. Be a Consistent Part of Your Loved One’s Recovery Circle

Isolation can be very detrimental for those struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder. Even when your suggestions are not successful and it seems as though your loved one is not taking the steps needed towards recovery, it is important to remain connected, engaged, and rooted in solidarity.


Connecting with others can have profound physical and mental health benefits, and your constant encouragement, motivation, and emotional support can be their kick-start towards sobriety.

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