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Helping An Alcoholic: Compassion (& So Much More) Can Help




There are several misconceptions surrounding what an individual needs to do to rescue a friend from the dangers of alcoholism. A lot of people feel that they can cause the alcoholic to be ashamed in his habit, dispose of all alcohol in their sight, hide all the money or else get the person arrested. There are a few who believe that just loving them enough will make the person want to stop their use of alcohol by themselves. The truth is, none of these work effectively.

Many think that compassion can save alcoholics from excessive drinking.

A lot of people would go as far as to make excuses to their boss when friends become too hungover to attend school or go to work. They may also give their friend money to buy alcohol whenever they are broke, or they need to be bailed out of jail due to alcohol-related crimes.

The truth is that these behaviors, known as enabling, are not healthy for all parties concerned. On the part of the dependent individual, it may cause continuous addiction and on the part of the enabler, it can cause emotional distress. It can also lead to the dependent individual ignoring the problems brought about by his drinking as there is always a fallback option that is readily available.

If you are an enabler, pretty sure you do not want to do it but you are actually becoming a target of blame in causing the drinking problem to continue even though all you want to do is help. It can be difficult to change your behavior, but it is extremely important that the dependent person will suffer the consequences. If you want, you can attend a support group, like Alanon, that helps with detachment.

This may involve telling him about the changes in his personality, the lack of personal hygiene, apathy, and dangerous behaviors such as passing out or drinking under the influence. You can do this by stating your concerns about his behaviors in “I” statements. For instance, you can say something like, “I feel sad to see you stop spending time with your kids because of your drinking.”

You can still be compassionate without enabling the individual.

You can do this in private and bring such concerns in a way that is non-confrontational. Never verbally attack your friend or make inferences from what is hearsay as your friend will likely just be defensive about it. Tell your friend that you will support him/her once he/she has decided to give up on alcohol. When all else fail, for your own good, you may need to completely detach from your friend for some time in order to keep your own emotional state healthy.





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