Can I help my alcoholic is one of the most asked questions on the Internet. But what about the term “alcoholic” itself? Addiction terminology is a sore subject these days. Many are offended by the word “Alcoholic.” Let’s just say alcohol user in the second, third, or fourth stage of use. There are four stages of substance use, and it can be confusing to loved ones and family members, and even users themselves, how far down the slippery slope of addiction they really are. How to help is a complicated question to which everyone wants the answer.
Let’s Look At This Question As A Series Of 4 Pointers
- What is the age of your alcoholic? If a minor, you have options for rehab and treatment that you can “impress” (read “force”) on your youngster. I use the term youngster as many alcoholics start very young; reference Drew Barrymore.
- Why is this person drinking? Did they see others in their home and environment drinking? Did/does it look “cool” or the in-thing to do? Is it a family tradition? Are they ill, depressed, in chronic pain or otherwise having issues in life that they trying to get away from? The answers here may help direct you towards treatment options and understanding of the person and how to further help them. Many soldiers (current and previous) suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and alcohol has usually been their primary way to dull the brain and keep the demons at bay.
- You have to take care of yourself in order to be a reliable help to your alcoholic. Use Al-anon or any of the many resources and self-help groups that are available.
- In the practice of medicine we have a saying that goes something like this: the patient is the one with the problem, they came to us for help. What that means is that you cannot take on their problem. Don’t become an enabler or co-dependent; that ultimately will not help them but could harm you.
Alcoholism Is One Of Many Specific Addictions.
The concerns and treatment for alcohol ARE basically the same as for any addiction. It takes a village to raise a child; similarly it takes a village to treat an active substance user. The village here consists of family, loved one, community treatment and support for the addict and his/her loved ones, and global understanding and support. In the end, each individual must take charge of his/her own survival because no one can help substance users unless they want the help. Consider the saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.