Home Recovery Blog How to help a friend or family member who is an addict or an alcoholic
How to help a friend or family member who is an addict or an alcoholic

How to help a friend or family member who is an addict or an alcoholic


This is a tough subject for me to write about because I have mixed feelings. Truth be told I have had many reach out to me for advice on this and have struggled to answer. I will begin with this, you cannot force sobriety on an alcoholic or a drug addict if they are not ready. Ultimatums, name calling, belittling, or exposing them to humiliate them will simply not work. You will lose, I assure you, every single time. You will push them away, you will anger them and that monster living inside of them will grow bigger and bigger.

I have been in two inpatient facilities, a halfway house, a mental institution and four outpatient facilities and I went back time after time. That infamous rock bottom, I have hit at least three times. I had negative consequence after negative consequence that it began to be the norm and hospitals and treatment facilities were starting to feel like home. It was not until I was completely and utterly mentally and physically exhausted that I chose to begin my journey through sobriety.

I chose it.

Throughout my addiction my family stood strongly by me. They never enabled me with money or tried to buy my happiness. They did however provided me love, encouraging words and a warm bed and food to come home too, should I choose. I was blessed in this aspect and I truly believe they kept me alive in doing this.

The worst thing to do to an addict is to judge or to provide a hostile environment for them to live. We drink and drug to quiet the pandemonium in our head, the anger, the sadness, the grief. We already feel useless, helpless and sad. We already feel anger and guilt. We have a hard time navigating through all of our emotions, magnifying them would be counterproductive and yes, we already know what we are doing to you and to the family.

On the flip side, it is also important to allow them to experience negative consequences. This may actually provide them with a reason or reasons to seek sobriety. People are more likely to change if they have suffered enough. This may be ultimately their saving grace. Let them sit in jail awhile, let them be forced into treatment by the court system. They may come out and use again but more than likely they picked up some key words while in that treatment facility. Some seeds may have been planted. If they are arrested let them sit in jail overnight or a few days, let the fear of that place resonate with them. Let them live with the consequences of their actions. Bailing them out, finding the best attorney for a lower sentence is again, ineffective.

Learn about addiction. Read about it, go to Al-Anon meetings. There is so much help out there for family and friends of addicts or alcoholics. There are facebook groups, books and wonderful websites like the one you are on today. Listen to some speakers offered on this site, listen to their stories. Who they are, where they came from, what got them here. You need to know what we feel inside.

Kicking them out of the home may do more harm than good. They will find shelter and it may not be in the most desirable of places. You have to remember, drugs and alcohol supersede all human instincts. We do not need a home to get drunk or high, and if we have either, we will make do. The caveat to this however is if you feel physically threatened or there are children in your home. Do not stand for any abuse, whether physical or emotional. If you feel, as a person, you can handle it, fine. If there are children in the home, please ask the alcoholic or addict to leave. Children do not need to be exposed to these adult issues. They do not need to see their mother, father, uncle, aunt, or grandparent act erratically. They do not deserve to have to live in fear.

I highly suggest not providing any financial support by means of physical money. If they need cigarettes or food, buy it for them yourself. I do not care if they promise you their first born child, do not hand them physical money. The temptation will be too much, even if they truly had the best intentions with it.

Lastly, please try and remember we are not doing this to you on purpose. We are not punishing you. We are sick. We are mentally and spiritually sick and we need help. We do not wake up everyday and strive to live this nightmare. We know we are causing problems. We know we are destroying our lives and the lives or people around us. We may not show it, but I can assure you we feel it.

Please be patient. We will find our way back home.

Kimberly K. is a recovery blogger from New Jersey, her blog can be found at www.MyDay-MyChoice.com. She can also be found on Facebook at Hospital For Your Soul.


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