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How Can I Help an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism destroys lives, ruins marriages, and strains relationships. Commonly, it is the family and close friends of an alcoholic that truly suffer with this disease. Alcoholism is called a family disease because it has such a profound impact on the entire family unit.

Alcoholism leads to domestic violence, abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse. Because family members often struggle to keep their lives together, they will deny that a loved one has a problem, or they will cover up the problem so that people on the outside do not see what is going on. Spouses often enable an alcoholic by assuming all household responsibilities and caring for the children. Children of alcoholics make excuses for their absent parent so that others don't know. Close family members will also make excuses for an alcoholic who misses work, family events, or other commitments, but all the excuses in the world will not help the alcoholic. Real help comes in the form of treatment and therapy, and family and close friends of alcoholics are often the ones who must take the first steps to get their loved one help.

How to Get an Alcoholic to Stop Drinking

An alcoholic will often experience times when they want to get sober and lead a healthy life, but they are unable to do it on their own and eventually they go right back to drinking. An alcoholic needs professional help to get sober and stay sober, and caring, determined family members may need to be the ones to encourage the individual to enter treatment. If you are ready to stop enabling the alcoholic in your life and get them into treatment, consider the following steps:

  1. Remove the Secrecy. Don't be afraid to tell someone that you are suffering because of your loved one's alcoholism. We all want to pretend that we have a perfect life, but nothing will get better until we admit that there is a problem. Confide in a close friend, consult a professional, and most importantly, talk to the alcoholic. Let them know that they have a problem, that you are concerned, and that you want them to get help.
  2. Offer Help. The best way for someone to get sober is to seek professional help. Consult a treatment center, find a location that is a good fit for your loved one, and then encourage them to enter treatment. A good facility can offer the hope of a sober lifestyle and repaired relationships, with hard work and dedication on the part of the alcoholic and the family.
  3. Get Help for Yourself. The family members of alcoholics are often tragically overlooked, but these individuals need help too. Family counseling and support groups like Al-anon are great ways to heal the wounds of past mistakes. By getting help for yourself, you are also helping the alcoholic recover, because you will improve your relationship and you will learn how to encourage their sobriety.


Sometimes alcoholics are not ready to get help, and when concerned family members confront them about treatment, they refuse. An intervention is a helpful tool in these cases, and it can often help get a loved one into treatment.

Interventions are the most successful when assisted by a professional. Family members will be asked to meet together with the alcoholic, and loved ones will tell the alcoholic how their drinking affects the rest of the family and that they want their loved one to get help for their drinking. The goal of an intervention is to help the alcoholic see the impact their drinking has on loved ones, and to see that they need help.

It is often concerned family members that take the first step towards getting an alcohol into treatment. Be open and honest with your loved one. Encourage them to seek help. Don't give up, because it often takes some time and many conversations before an alcoholic will be ready to get help.