What can you do for a recovering alcoholic?

Before we delve into how you can support your loved one, it’s crucial to have a basic understanding of alcohol addiction. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic medical condition characterized by compulsive and problematic alcohol consumption despite negative consequences. It is essential to recognize that AUD is a disease and not a moral failing or a lack of willpower.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction

There are several signs that may indicate your loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction. These signs include:

  • Failed attempts to cut back or stop drinking
  • Using alcohol despite it worsening emotional or physical problems
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence
  • Increased conflict with family members due to alcohol use
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work due to alcohol consumption
  • Drinking more than intended or experiencing cravings
  • Spending a significant amount of time seeking and recovering from alcohol use
  • Developing tolerance and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

If you notice these signs in your loved one, it’s important to approach the situation with empathy and understanding.

How to Talk to Your Loved One About Their Drinking

Having an open and honest conversation with your loved one about their drinking can be challenging, but it is an important step in supporting their recovery. Here are some tips for approaching this conversation:

  1. Choose the right time and place: Find a calm and private setting where you can have an uninterrupted conversation with your loved one. Avoid discussing the topic when they are under the influence or in a stressful situation.
  2. Be compassionate and non-judgmental: Approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Avoid blaming or criticizing your loved one, as this may cause them to become defensive.
  3. Use “I” statements: Express your concerns using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, say, “I am worried about your health and well-being” instead of “You have a drinking problem.”
  4. Listen actively: Allow your loved one to express their feelings and concerns without interruption. Be patient and attentive, and avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions.
  5. Offer support and resources: Let your loved one know that you are there to support them throughout their recovery journey. Provide information about treatment options, support groups, and professional help available to them.

Remember, the goal of this conversation is to express your concern, offer support, and encourage your loved one to seek help. It is ultimately their decision to pursue treatment, and you cannot force them to change.

Researching Treatment Options

Once your loved one has acknowledged their need for help, it’s essential to research and understand the available treatment options. Gathering information about different treatment centers, therapy modalities, and support groups can help you guide your loved one towards the most suitable form of treatment. Consider the following:

  • Inpatient treatment: Inpatient programs provide 24/7 care and support in a residential setting. They offer intensive therapy, medical supervision, and a structured environment to help individuals overcome their addiction.
  • Outpatient treatment: Outpatient programs allow individuals to receive treatment while living at home. These programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to attend therapy sessions and support groups while maintaining their daily responsibilities.
  • Support groups: Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provide a supportive community of individuals who have experienced similar struggles. Attending these meetings can help your loved one find understanding, guidance, and encouragement from others in recovery.
  • Therapy modalities: Explore different therapy modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and family therapy. Each modality offers unique approaches to address the underlying factors contributing to addiction.

By researching treatment options, you can help your loved one make informed decisions about their recovery journey.

Supporting Your Loved One During Treatment and Recovery

Once your loved one has entered treatment, your support is crucial to their ongoing recovery. Here are some ways you can offer support during this time:

1. Educate yourself about addiction

Take the time to educate yourself about addiction and the challenges your loved one may face during their recovery. Understanding the disease of addiction can help you provide informed support and reduce stigma.

2. Be patient and understanding

Recovery is a lifelong process, and there may be ups and downs along the way. Be patient with your loved one and offer understanding during challenging times. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, and remind them that setbacks are a normal part of the recovery process.

3. Create a supportive environment

Ensure that your home environment is supportive of your loved one’s recovery. Remove any alcohol from the house and avoid situations that may trigger cravings or temptations. Encourage other family members and friends to be understanding and supportive as well.

4. Attend family therapy or support groups

Consider participating in family therapy or attending support groups specifically designed for the loved ones of individuals in recovery. These resources can provide you with additional tools and strategies to support your loved one effectively.

5. Encourage healthy habits

Promote healthy habits such as regular exercise, nutritious eating, and sufficient sleep. Engaging in positive activities can help your loved one maintain their sobriety and improve their overall well-being.

6. Celebrate milestones and achievements

Acknowledge and celebrate your loved one’s milestones and achievements in their recovery journey. Whether it’s reaching a month of sobriety, completing a treatment program, or achieving personal goals, recognizing their progress can provide encouragement and motivation.

7. Practice self-care

Supporting a loved one in recovery can be emotionally demanding. It’s essential to prioritize your own well-being by practicing self-care. Take time for yourself, engage in activities you enjoy, and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist.

Remember, recovery is a personal journey, and your loved one’s path may be different from others. By offering consistent support, understanding, and love, you can play a crucial role in their recovery process.

Dealing with Relapse

Relapse is a common occurrence in addiction recovery, and it’s essential to be prepared for this possibility. If your loved one experiences a relapse, it’s crucial to respond with compassion and support. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Avoid blame and judgment: Understand that relapse is a part of the recovery process and not a sign of failure. Avoid blaming or criticizing your loved one, as this may hinder their motivation to continue seeking help.
  2. Encourage open communication: Encourage your loved one to communicate openly about their relapse and their feelings surrounding it. Create a safe space for them to share their struggles without fear of judgment.
  3. Encourage professional help: If your loved one relapses, encourage them to seek professional help and re-engage in treatment. Remind them that recovery is a journey, and setbacks can be overcome with the right support and resources.
  4. Revisit treatment options: Evaluate the effectiveness of the current treatment plan and consider exploring alternative or additional treatment options. It may be helpful to involve a healthcare professional or addiction specialist in the decision-making process.
  5. Reinforce self-care practices: Encourage your loved one to focus on self-care during this challenging time. Remind them of the importance of healthy habits, stress management techniques, and engaging in activities that bring them joy and fulfillment.
  6. Seek support for yourself: Dealing with a loved one’s relapse can be emotionally challenging. Consider seeking support for yourself through therapy, support groups, or trusted friends and family members.

It’s important to remember that relapse does not signify the end of recovery. With the right support and resources, individuals can learn from their relapse and continue on their path to sobriety.

Additional Resources for Support

Supporting a loved one in recovery can be overwhelming at times, and it’s essential to seek additional resources when needed. Here are some resources that can provide guidance and support:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA offers a national helpline (1-800-662-HELP) and a treatment locator tool to help individuals find local treatment options.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups: Al-Anon is a support group specifically designed for the loved ones of individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. These groups provide a safe space to share experiences and find support from others who have faced similar challenges.
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): NIAAA offers a wealth of resources, research, and information about alcohol addiction, treatment options, and support for individuals and their families.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to provide you with the support and guidance you need.


Supporting a loved one in recovery from alcohol addiction is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By educating yourself, offering understanding and compassion, and providing ongoing support, you can play a crucial role in their journey to sobriety. Remember to prioritize your own well-being and seek support when needed. Together, you and your loved one can navigate the challenges of recovery and build a brighter future. Call 833-846-5669 today.