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Helping Someone in Alcohol Rehab

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How to Be There for Someone in Alcohol Rehab

Rehab is critical to their recovery from alcohol addiction, but there are still plenty of challenges and obstacles to face along the way. But even though addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, there are ways to support them and make the process a whole lot easier.

Navigation: How to Support Someone in Treatment for Alcohol Addiction, How Do You Deal with Someone Who Has a Drinking Problem?, What Can You Say to an Alcoholic?, How Do You Get Someone to Stop Drinking?, What are the First Signs of Liver Damage from Alcohol?, What Strategies are used to Treat Alcoholism?


Alcohol addiction not only affects the individual but also the people around them. It affects their relationships, including their family, and the closer the connection, the greater the strain. Eventually, the addiction becomes their greatest priority and they begin to neglect their loved ones. It may come to a point where alcohol influences every interaction they have with their families and friends.

It’s not easy to have a family member who is an alcoholic. You may spend a long time trying to convince them to go to rehab, thinking it is the magic solution to everything. But the reality is that rehab is only one piece of the puzzle, and it is a long journey ahead for the person in recovery.

Rehab is critical to their recovery from alcohol addiction, but there are still plenty of challenges and obstacles to face along the way. But even though addiction recovery is a lifelong journey, there are ways to support them and make the process a whole lot easier. Remember that family support is very important for someone who is addicted to any substance.

Today we are going to discuss how family members can properly support someone who is struggling with alcohol addiction. Knowing what to do and how to support them can go a long way when it comes to guiding them towards long-lasting sobriety.


How to Support Someone in Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Remember that every addiction is different, and your loved one’s situation may not be entirely similar with someone else who is dealing with alcohol use disorder or AUD. The support they need depends on their condition, their goals, and even their personality. As a family member, you are one of the people who have an understanding of their situation, so this may be useful along the way.

But if you want to help them, first you need to educate yourself on addiction and recovery. You need to learn about how alcohol addiction affects an individual so you can properly understand what your loved one is going through.

Learn about potential triggers that can make recovery difficult for them. Also learn about the difference between supporting your loved one and enabling them. This may be a hard pill to swallow for some family members, but you may be contributing to their addiction by saying yes to everything.

Learn about the physical and mental health effects of addiction so you know how important it is for them to receive proper medical attention.

Then you also need to learn about the different options that are available to them when it comes to treatment. The first thing you need to know is that a personalized treatment plan is important: most rehabs will create a proper treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs.

By learning all of these things, you can prepare for even more problems that may arise. Addiction tends to create plenty of problems along the way. This may include financial problems, legal problems, and relationship problems. These are things you have to deal with along the way.

 The connection between family members and the alcoholic individual may take years to repair, and you will have to work on that as well. Addressing these family issues may help them maintain long-term sobriety because there are fewer reasons to drink.

Also keep in mind that relapse is always a possibility. In fact, it is a very common thing for those in recovery. It does not necessarily mean that they have failed or that the treatment isn’t working, rather an indication that there’s more work to be done.

On that note, do not hold unreasonable expectations when it comes to their progress. The desire to change must come from within. So as a family member, you can only do so much to support them. You need to find a way to motivate them to stay on the path to sobriety. It’s normal to feel frustrated when a relapse occurs, but remember that this is not the end of their journey to recovery. Avoid this disappointment as it may make the recovering individual feel hopeless.

Try to make changes within the home that will help support and encourage sobriety. Remove all addictive substances like alcohol. Encourage healthy activities like exercise to replace harmful habits. It’s even better if you can do it with them. Find a fun type of exercise that the family can enjoy and use it as a bonding opportunity for everyone.

Help your loved one refocus their energy on other things. They may have lost interest in things they used to enjoy because it has been replaced by their need for alcohol. It’s not their fault—alcohol makes them crave for more by affecting the brain. But during the recovery process, you have to help them find new hobbies and activities to channel their energy into.

Keep them away from social gatherings where substance abuse is likely to occur. If they do have to attend it, help them limit their exposure to alcohol.

Help them create new friendships that support their sobriety. Addiction affects a person’s social life, and so that damage needs to be addressed as well, but if their former relationships were toxic and pushing them towards alcoholism by encouraging their addictive behavior, they need new connections.

Finally, look for a rehab facility that offers a proper alcohol addiction treatment program. Aside from your support, they need medical attention to help them address the physical effects of alcoholism, including cravings and withdrawal.


How Do You Deal with Someone Who Has a Drinking Problem?

Having someone in your household who is dealing with an addiction is tough, but aside from supporting them through the process of recovery, you also need to make sure you are looking out for yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in this highly stressful and emotional period of time. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you might make decisions that are only detrimental to your loved one’s progress. You might end up enabling their addictive behavior, which benefits no one in the long run.

It is important to set and enforce boundaries when you have someone in the family who has a drinking problem. This will prevent you from enabling any problematic behavior. Once you set your boundaries, do not let your family member violate them. They may think that you are not serious about those rules or someone that needs to be respected. This will only make it harder to set any real boundaries in the future, as they might just disregard it.

Set clear and firm boundaries from the beginning. Make it clear what is and what is not acceptable. And then make sure you follow through. Although there may be some anger or bitterness at first, this will only help the addicted individual stay on the path to recovery.

Do not go so far that you are disregarding your own feelings and needs. Your loved one needs your support, but you can only support them if you are taking care of yourself. Do not shoulder all the financial and emotional burden or else you might find yourself falling apart. This process of supporting your addicted loved one can feel draining, so make sure you are taking enough time for yourself.

What Can You Say to an Alcoholic?

Communication is an important part of the recovery journey. But it is not easy to talk to someone about their drinking problem, especially if they are in denial about there being a problem in the first place.

You may be worried that bringing it up will make the person angry or defensive. Or you are concerned that they are just going to deny the problem. These are actually common reactions among those who have alcoholism. But their alcohol problem won’t go away on its own—you are gonna have to talk about it eventually.

Until you speak up, their condition might just get worse. So learn about how to properly communicate with someone with an alcohol use disorder. Be open and honest about your concerns.

The key is to remember that you cannot force someone to stop drinking alcohol. It will have to be their decision. The choice is up to them. But talking about the problem may point them in the right direction. You can even guide them through the addiction treatment process as they work on solving the problem.

Choose a time when your loved one isn’t drinking before you engage them in a conversation about it. Make sure that you are both calm and focused—try choosing a quiet place with some privacy where you know you won’t be interrupted.

Then, express your concerns in a non-judgmental or confrontational way. Tell them about your worries regarding their drinking habits, especially the way it is affecting their health and the family. Remain compassionate and neutral instead of shaming them.

Allow them to talk about their situation: their reasons for abusing alcohol, their mental state, etc. There are a lot of different factors that may be contributing to their alcohol abuse. They may be stressed, anxious, lonely, bored, or just wanting to fit in with a certain group. This may give you some insight into their way of thinking and help you come up with better ways to support them. You can only do so if you understand their situation. Keep an open mind while you have this conversation. You may even learn about the underlying causes of their addiction.

If you can’t have this conversation one-on-one try doing it with the help of the family. Consider hiring a professional interventionist who will facilitate the intervention. Having an expert who can moderate the flow of the conversation can make the intervention more successful.

The goal of the intervention is to set boundaries, establish the problem, and hopefully open up the person to the possibility of rehab. It is not the time to bully or fight the person with the drinking problem.

Whatever their reaction, do not take it personally. Sometimes it may take several attempts before you can begin a real conversation with your loved one about their drinking. Expect them to deny the problem or resist your help. Give them time to process your concerns. It is important that they recognize the problem too.

When talking to the alcoholic individual, do not make excuses for their behavior. Shielding them from their responsibilities only prevents them from putting in the necessary work in order to get better. In fact, seeing the negative consequences may convince them to finally seek treatment.

This is where you come in. Your role is to encourage them to get the help that they need. They cannot overcome their drinking problem on their own, so be there to support them and talk to them throughout their journey. Help them practice their new coping skills as they learn to stay away from alcohol.

How Do You Get Someone to Stop Drinking?

This is tricky because you can’t just get someone to stop drinking. They need to see the problem for themselves and realize that they need to change. But because their alcoholism is making a negative impact on the family, you may want to learn how to get them to stop anyway.

If your loved one is addicted, they will keep on drinking even if they are already suffering from its adverse effects. That is the main characteristic of addiction. They will keep drinking even if their health is being negatively impacted by alcohol. They will prioritize it over everything else. They may even struggle with social, personal, financial, and even legal problems because of their drinking habits. For you, this may be a frustrating thing to see.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have the willpower to quit. Quitting alcohol is not just a matter of willpower. The substance affects the brain in a way that makes them dependent. They feel like they can’t function normally without drinking.

You don’t need to sit around and wait for them to realize the gravity of their situation.  There are plenty of ways to intervene and prevent your family member from self-destructing. Your best bet is to talk to them, offer your support, and convince them to get into an addiction treatment program.

While they go through addiction treatment, you can do your best to reduce stressors around the house. Encourage them to pursue relaxing activities such as meditation, journaling, exercise, art, and yoga.

What are the First Signs of Liver Damage from Alcohol?

There are many reasons why you should push your loved one to start their recovery journey. It’s not just because of the family, but also because the excessive alcohol consumption is physically harming them.

Alcohol damages the liver—this part is common knowledge. It also affects the heart, the brain, and other vital organs in the person’s body. But the liver takes much of the impact because it is responsible for breaking down alcohol.

While liver tissue is capable of regenerating, continued damage via excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a buildup of scar tissue. This scar tissue takes the place of healthy liver tissue, which then leads to an impaired ability of the liver to carry out its vital functions.

One of the leading causes of liver damage is alcohol consumption. When alcohol damages the liver, this condition is called alcohol-related liver disease.

When a person drinks, their liver breaks down alcohol along with other potentially toxic substances. This is how the body gets rid of these unwanted substances. However, some people consume more alcohol than the liver can effectively process. This is how it gets damaged. Over time, this leads to inflammation and the accumulation of scar tissue.

The early stages of liver damage caused by alcohol abuse often have no symptoms. You may not even know that you’ve experienced liver damage before it gets worse.

In some cases where patients do get symptoms, they may experience fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and sudden weight loss unrelated to diet and physical activity. They may also feel discomfort in their abdomen, potentially caused by swelling of the liver.

Those who drink excessively on a regular basis may develop alcoholic fatty liver disease. This refers to the accumulation of fat in the liver. Although it is common to have no symptoms, some people suffer from fatigue, discomfort in the liver area, and unexplained weight loss.

What Strategies are used to Treat Alcoholism?

The journey to recovery is long so you need to be patient with your loved one. There are various strategies that can be used in rehab and after rehab to help them get closer to their goal of lifelong sobriety. Getting over an addiction is not just about willpower, it’s about addressing a complex medical condition that affects both mind and body.

The first step for the recovering individual is admitting that there is a problem. Only by recognizing the problem can they begin to accept the help that they need.

Once they realize that they have a problem and they need medical assistance, they can start weighing their options and doing their research on various treatment programs and rehab facilities. There are many rehab facilities out there, so it might feel overwhelming at first. But try to narrow it down using factors like location and insurance. Also consider going for a rehab facility that specializes in alcohol addiction.

There is no single rehab facility that is “the perfect fit” for your loved one. Try to look for facilities that offer the services you need depending on your loved one’s situation and goals. That’s how you choose the right facility and program.

There are inpatient options as well as outpatient or partial hospitalization programs. In an inpatient program or residential program, your loved one will have to stay in the rehab facility for the duration of the program. This may take anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on the patient’s needs. All their needs including food and lodging will be provided, and they will attend therapy and counseling sessions throughout the day.

In rehab, they will learn healthy coping mechanisms that will help them fight off their cravings once they return to the outside world. They will also learn to address their feelings, issues, and concerns that are keeping them from living a sober life.

Therapists and counselors teach patients new skills and strategies that will help them maintain their sobriety even after they leave rehab. They also teach recovering individuals how to change behaviors that make them want to drink. Having the guidance of a therapist can help alcoholic individuals deal with stress and other triggers more effectively. They will also encourage patients to build stronger support systems.

Detox is another essential strategy for addressing alcohol addiction. When a person becomes alcohol dependent, it means their body has adjusted to the constant presence of the substance and they can no longer feel “normal” without drinking. This often leads to severe withdrawal when the dependent person tries to quit. They get cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which eventually leads to a relapse.

Medications may be used during detox to help keep cravings and withdrawal symptoms under control. Keep in mind that there is no “cure” for alcohol use disorder. But it can be treated just like any other chronic medical condition.

Because of these potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it is highly recommended that alcoholic individuals receive medical assistance during detox. Rehab provides a safe and comfortable space away from their usual triggers and temptations. They can just focus on getting better. Medical professionals will gradually lower their alcohol intake and also manage their withdrawal symptoms during detox.

Outpatient programs work pretty much the same way, except the patient does not stay in the treatment facility. They visit the clinic or hospital for regular sessions and then go home afterwards. This is less structured and intensive compared to inpatient treatment, which is why it also tends to have a lower success rate. However, this is the perfect fit for patients with plenty of responsibilities in the outside world that they can’t just leave behind. This also works better for alcoholic individuals with mild to moderate cases of alcohol addiction.

Those with more serious cases may need the focused environment of an inpatient rehab program.

Upon leaving rehab, the focus then shifts to aftercare. Aftercare is all about making sure the patient doesn’t relapse after leaving rehab. It’s when the patient puts everything they learned in rehab to practice. This is the part where they need your support the most.

Aside from getting support from their family, patients can also join support groups. Here they can join a community of people who understand exactly what they are going through. They can share their experiences and support one another as they fight to maintain their sobriety.

It’s not easy having a loved one who is addicted to alcohol—or any other substance for that matter. But your support can play a crucial role in their journey to recovery and lifelong sobriety. Start looking for a specific treatment provider who can create a proper recovery plan and provide medical detox for your loved one.

Be patient, learn how to set and enforce boundaries, and be there for your loved one however you can. Once they have recovered, you can start working on rebuilding your relationship with a stronger foundation.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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