Recommended Articles

5 Ways to help an Alcoholic

Author: Kevin Olsen

Last Updated: 9/14/2022

Alcoholism is a difficult battle to fight. Everyone needs help from time to time and the same goes for those suffering from alcohol abuse disorder (AUD). There are many ways you can help an alcoholic. The best ways are by not encouraging their behavior or actions with alcohol, changing your mindset of what it means to be an alcoholic, and educating yourself on alcoholism. You also need to confront them about their behavior safely. 

One last thing you need to do is take care of yourself. It can be difficult to help those suffering from addiction and you do not want it to affect your own life. If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol use disorder, read on to learn more below.

1. Find out More About Alcohol Use Disorder 

Alcohol Use Disorder is a disease characterized by a dependence on alcohol. It is when your daily activities and daily life depend so much on alcohol that you can not go a day without taking several drinks throughout the day. Learning more about alcoholism is highly effective in helping alcoholics because once you’re educated you will know how to help. 


If you do not know what you are talking about it’s harder to give helpful advice. In this day and age, it is easy to educate yourself on a topic. Using the internet is great because there are dozens of websites with information available. Some libraries and community centers will offer classes on how to help those you love suffering from AUD.

2. Offer Your Help

Showing someone that they’re not alone Is a great way to help them quit drinking. Even if it doesn’t work, it still shows them that you will walk with them on their road to recovery. This is effective because if nobody will help them it’s harder to quit drinking and seek treatment. 

If you’re there to encourage them and to be a sponsor for them when they need it, that could be the extra push someone needs to get the help and do better. This could be as simple as just talking to them or calling them every day. If every day is too much, even once per week helps. There are many ways you can offer your help and just doing one or more of these things often means the world to someone who needs it.

3. Approach with Honesty and Compassion

When helping an alcoholic recover from alcoholism, it’s important to approach the situation with honesty and compassion. Make sure you don’t lie to alcoholics and approach every situation with the truth.

You need to also be able to tell them the truth without attacking them. Alcoholics need to know you are there for them and that you care about their wellbeing. This is effective because if you lie to someone and tell them, “No, your drinking doesn’t hurt anyone that bad but you should stop drinking.” They will just think that they are fine and don’t need to stop. You need to be able to say to them, “Your drinking has badly hurt your relationships with your friends and family and it is now negatively affecting your life.” Real friends will tell each other these truths and family should be able to do the same as well. 

Compassion also goes a long way. People tend to say a smile can make someone’s day and it’s true. Just showing an alcoholic that you are there for them and truly want to see them do better can help them to turn their life around.

4. Intervene

There are a couple of ways you can intervene when it comes to an alcoholic. Ultimately, you want to be careful as to which way you choose because not everyone will respond the same way.

A traditional way is an intervention. You invite over the person’s closest friends and family and you each write a letter about how that person’s drinking is affecting you or your relationship. Interventions are useful because they show the person how many people care for them. They also show people the damage their drinking causes. 

The downside to interventions is that some people feel like it’s an attack. They view it as their closest friends and family all telling them how bad of a person they are and saying things they hate about them. For some people, this can make the issue far worse and for those people, a 1 on 1 approach is better. Somebody they fully trust, family or friends, should sit them down and have that same talk with them but in a more relaxed setting. 

These methods are effective because it shows the person that they have people who care about them and who love them and when you do the group intervention it also shows the person how their drinking has affected multiple people in various ways. These are things they may not have thought about before. 

5. Right Time and Place

There is a right time and place to bring things up such as someone’s drinking. On a holiday or birthday, out in a public space, or while they have already been drinking are the worst times. You want to make sure the person has not had anything to drink, you want to make sure the setting is a comfortable place for them. Make sure only people who love them are there, you do not want to bring someone who does not know them well as they will not feel comfortable. 

Picking the right time and place is effective because if you start the conversation with any tension or with the person already uncomfortable then it will most likely not go well. You want to start the conversation with the person feeling fully comfortable with where they are, who is there, and when it’s happening.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism occurs when someone can’t control the urge to drink alcohol. So, what is alcoholism? It’s an addiction to the consumption of alcohol, where you feel the need to drink constantly. Alcoholism typically starts with someone having 1 or 2 drinks every day but as tolerance builds that turns into 2 or 3 drinks a day.

As alcoholism progresses it leads to someone needing to drink to function and do normal tasks. Alcoholism also destroys relationships between this person and their friends and family. Seeking treatment for yourself or anyone who is suffering from alcoholism is important to make a recovery.

What is the Treatment for Alcohol Addiction?

There are various forms of treatment for alcohol addiction. The first step is talking about it. That can be with a close friend or family member or, when you feel comfortable, with a healthcare professional. Speaking to friends and family will feel more comfortable at first but the healthcare provider has the education and medical experience to provide you with the most help. 

The next step is a rehabilitation center, they have both inpatient and outpatient programs to fit your specific needs. Here you gain access to all the medication, counseling, and other help you need to guide you on the road to recovery and to get your life back.

We list some other forms of alcoholism treatment below.

It’s important in your treatment not to rush and to take small steps forward in each process. Moving too fast will set you back if you’re not ready for that next step and could then lead to a relapse.

What’s the Best Way to Live With an Alcoholic?

Living with an alcoholic is challenging but the best way to live with one is to support them and their recovery. Don’t attempt to control their drinking and avoid blaming yourself. Doing so causes several problems and makes the situation worse.

We list the other best ways to live with an alcoholic below.

  • The best way to live with an alcoholic is to become educated. Find resources, read books, and attend meetings on how to live your life with an alcoholic. Becoming educated can not only help you but could benefit them as well. 
  • You also can not hold yourself accountable for their actions. They decided to drink and do whatever they did, you need to let them be held accountable and deal with the consequences. 
  • Don’t enable them to drink, don’t buy alcohol, and leave it out. If you want to buy alcohol for yourself either lock it in a cabinet or hide it. 
  • You also need to understand that you can’t cure it. It is up to them to take those steps, you can guide them in their journey but if they are not willing to seek help then there is nothing you can do.
  • One last thing you can do, although you can’t cure it you also can not allow abusive behaviors. Whether they are drinking or not they need to be able to conduct themselves as if they are in public and act in acceptable ways. As the saying goes, “Act as if your grandmother is watching you.”

Always try and help a recovering alcoholic by recommending support groups and treatment options.

How does Alcohol Abuse Affect the Family?

There are many ways that alcohol abuse affects families. It can tear families apart and cause family members never to speak again. Usually, the ones that surround someone with alcohol abuse suffer from anxiety, depression, and sometimes even shame for the actions of the one suffering. 

If the person suffering causes scenes in public daily or shows up on the news, it will also reflect how others will then treat that person’s family. For the most part, the family just wants to see an alcoholic succeed and recover. Alcoholism doesn’t only affect the alcoholic, unfortunately, it also affects those around you as well.

How does Alcohol Abuse Affect Friends?

Alcohol abuse affects friends in the same ways it does family. They can start to suffer from anxiety and depression over how you are and if you’re okay and they may also feel shameful of your actions if you are all out somewhere and you cause a scene. 

If you suffer from alcoholism you may also notice that some friends stop inviting you out or stop talking to you altogether. This could be because they were being affected by your actions and they needed to put their health first. Sometimes that can be the wake-up call needed to find help.

Can Alcoholics Get Sober?

Yes, alcoholics can always get sober. It only takes 1 moment, or 1 step in the right direction to turn your life around. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Once you admit that you can begin your road to recovery. You can be someone who drinks lightly but finds that it’s a problem or someone who drinks a bottle a night. 

Either way, you always have an opportunity to get sober. If you want to get help use some of the steps outlined above like educating yourself to get started. No matter how small, the first step is all you need.