Alcohol & Health
Treatment
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on February 3, 2023
7 min read

How to Help an Alcoholic Stop Drinking

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding alcoholism and its signs can give you the information you need to help your loved one quit.
  • Alcoholism impacts the affected person's family, friends, work, and personal life.
  • You can help a loved one by carefully and gently discussing your concerns about their substance abuse habits.
  • Involving other family members and the community in the process will enhance support for your loved one’s recovery.
  • Seek professional help from a treatment provider who fits their needs.

Signs Your Loved One Has a Drinking Problem

Alcoholism is a family disease because it affects close family members and friends. However, those friends and family can be vital to a successful recovery.

The first step in helping an alcoholic is acknowledging the problem and identifying the signs. These signs include:

  • Frequent binge drinking
  • Inability to stop drinking despite damage to the heart, liver, kidney, brain, etc.
  • Spending lots of time drunk or hungover
  • Strong urges or cravings to drink
  • Leaving hobbies and activities to drink
  • Engaging in risky behavior (driving under the influence, unsafe sex, etc.)
  • Unable to perform at work or school
  • Unable to meet social obligations 
  • Financial problems
  • Poor health and weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Social isolation
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms 

If you notice a combination of the above signs, it may be time to seek professional help. Without proper treatment, their alcoholism can worsen and affect everyone around them.

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10 Tips to Help an Alcoholic Stop Drinking

Helping a loved one deal with their addiction can be overwhelming and confusing. Fortunately, there are ways for you to approach the situation.

Here are 10 tips to help stop someone from drinking:

1. Know What Alcoholism is

Remember, alcoholism is a disease, so it’s essential to treat it as such. Informing yourself about alcoholism helps you understand and recognize behaviors related to alcohol abuse.

Understanding what alcoholism is can help you sympathize with what your loved one is going through. You can even be there to assist them when an emergency happens.

You can also help guide them to sobriety by doing things like:

2. Approach With Care

Alcoholism can be a difficult conversation, so make sure you have a plan. More importantly, don’t try to discuss the issue when they’re intoxicated or emotionally unstable.

Avoid making them feel attacked, judged, or shamed. So, avoid harsh or accusatory language.6

When you approach them, be honest about your concerns and show that you care about them. Try not to push them too hard. You can change the subject if the conversation makes them uncomfortable or irritated.

3. Communicate Openly

Make sure they feel comfortable talking about their drinking problem. Your loved one may be too shy or afraid to speak to you about it, so make them feel safe.

You can do this by being sympathetic. Put yourself in their shoes and show them that you understand what they’re going through.

When you communicate openly, you’re providing a safe and understanding space. They’ll be willing to have a deeper conversation about your concerns when they're comfortable with you.

4. Find out the Underlying Cause of Alcoholism

Your loved one may be suffering from anxiety and depression, and they’re using alcohol to cope. However, telling them that they’re suffering from depression may sound accusatory. Instead, ask them gently what they think could be contributing to their drinking behavior. 

Try to mention some common causes of alcoholism they can relate to. This may help them open up to you.

5. Don’t Offer an Ultimatum

Someone struggling with alcoholism will choose alcohol over everything. With that in mind, don’t make them agree to a “quit day.” Doing so will give them more pressure and stress.

The last thing you want is to see your loved one frustrated when you’re trying to help. The best thing to offer your loved one is an option for treatment.

Research the types of alcohol treatment programs available near you.7 Make sure you consider these options and choose the right one for your loved one.

6. Avoid Being The Trigger

Drinking around an alcoholic encourages their urge to drink. On the other hand, if you’ve already approached them about their drinking problem, drinking alcohol around them won’t encourage them to stop.

It will affect the trust they have in you and discourage them from seeking your advice. You should also avoid putting them into triggering situations like:

  • Social events or activities with alcohol
  • Going near bars or liquor stores
  • Having alcohol at home

7. Don’t Enable Their Addiction

Making excuses for an alcoholic or bailing them out when they get in trouble isn’t helpful. Giving your loved one money when you know that they will use it to buy alcohol makes the problem worse.

Practicing some tough love is necessary. Let them handle their troubles. Even if they feel unloved, it will benefit them in the long run.

8. Involve Other People

Don’t give up if you’re not confident about your ability to help. Recognizing the problem and having the will to help is good enough.

If you know someone who has successfully quit alcohol, you can learn a few things about their experiences. Then, see how it applies to your loved one.

If they’re okay with it, have them talk to your loved one about recovery. Other family members can also help by encouraging or funding treatment.

9. Be Supportive

When discussing recovery, show your loved ones that you’re willing to support them through recovery. This will encourage them to pursue the recovery journey without relapsing.

Set goals with them and even come up with rewards for achievements made. Remember, recovery is a continuous process, and it continues beyond treatment. 

Knowing both treatment and aftercare programs will help you prepare for the process, especially in case of relapses. As an affected person, you may also need to get some form of support, such as family therapy.

10. Seek Professional Treatment For AUD

Addiction therapists, physicians, and counselors can provide effective detox and treatment. They can also help your loved one manage unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

You can enroll your loved one in an inpatient or outpatient program. Your choice can depend on the extent of addiction and the availability of resources. 

Outpatient programs allow them to attend treatment while continuing their daily lives. However, inpatient or long-term recovery programs require them to stay in an alcohol-free facility during treatment.

How Does Alcoholism Affect Family & Friends?

Alcoholism is a disease that can ruin relationships. It can affect everyone around the addicted person and cause significant damage. 

  • Alcoholic parents: can cause a financial crisis, loss of employment, poor spending, poor decision making
  • Alcoholic partner: can cause emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse

Children are the most affected when a family member has a drinking problem. If alcoholism leads to divorce, children get frustrated by the separation. They may even become alcoholics themselves when they grow older.4

Friends may drink together for social reasons. However, alcohol dependence can ruin great friendships if the alcoholic proves to be a burden, nuisance, or embarrassment.

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Treatment Options for Alcoholism

If you’re wondering if alcoholism can be treated, the answer is yes. People with AUD can benefit from some treatments and therapies available in alcohol rehab centers across the U.S.

Available treatment options for alcoholism include:

  • Inpatient rehab: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision 
  • Outpatient rehab: A treatment program where people are freely allowed to leave the rehab facility
  • Partial hospitalization program: A treatment program where you stay at a rehab facility for a day and return home at night
  • Cognitive–behavioral therapy: A short-term therapy technique that explores the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): Involves using medication, counseling, and therapy to treat addiction
  • Support group programs: Provide a much-needed community to help maintain sobriety after treatment

Caring for someone with an alcohol problem may be difficult. Consider seeking support from other people, such as friends or family.You can join a support group like Al-Anon and Alateen as a family member.5 These are groups focused on helping family members and young people living with an alcoholic.

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Updated on February 3, 2023
8 sources cited
Updated on February 3, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Alcohol Use in the United States,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 2022.
  2. Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2020.
  3. Types and Signs of Abuse,” Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
  4. Park, S., & Schepp, K. “A Systematic Review of Research on Children of Alcoholics: Their Inherent Resilience and Vulnerability.” J Child Fam Stud, 2015.
  5. Who Are Al-Anon Members?,” Al-Anon Family Group 
  6. Words Matter: Terms to Use and Avoid When Talking About Addiction,” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  7. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide,” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2014.

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