What to Know About Providing Emotional Support to Alcoholics

Posted on 08/14/2020

What to Know About Providing Emotional Support to Alcoholics


It is particularly trying to witness someone deal with alcohol addiction. You would want to do everything in your power to help—send them to an alcohol treatment center, for example, or provide emotional support as they work through the process.


Treatment centers and therapy typically work since they have trained professionals. Relatives and friends without medical training, though, might do something with good intentions but fail to grasp that they're hurting their loved ones.


For example, people with alcoholic friends or family might take a "tough love" approach to healing. Many are under the impression that being hard on someone will help them see the straight path or recover. Here are a few things you should avoid when helping an alcoholic through their recovery.


Nagging or fault-finding


When you lecture an alcoholic about their behavior, it won't cause them to change it. Although you might mean well, nagging could cause someone to feel miserable and pressured to become "better." Instead of becoming better, your loved one might start wanting to drink because of the stress to appear alright for the person nagging them.


Belittling their efforts


Recovering from alcohol abuse is a lengthy process that can stir up various, conflicting emotions in the people around the abuse survivor. Frustration, anger, impatience, and disgust are common reactions; though these are all valid, you should avoid taking your feelings out on the person. Shaming them will only add to their sense of inferiority, which they might try to mitigate using alcohol.


Threatening or punishing them


You won't succeed in motivating someone with threats. When you threaten an alcoholic, they might cease drinking for a few days, making you believe that you have made progress. However, since threats are external, this will not last; they would not have built the habits that sustain self-control. Also, don't use rehab as a threat. People should want to enter a treatment center, not be scared that they are doing so.


Controlling their behavior


You cannot control people's actions—only they can. Managing another person's drinking by watching the number of drinks they have, hiding their alcohol, or manipulating their behavior in any other way, will only make them feel resentful of you. As a result, they might start drinking in secret.


Enabling them to drink


Conversely, don't enable their habits. Enabling is a mistaken form of kindness. When you bail out an alcoholic by giving them a ride home because they're drunk, paying their drunk driving tickets, or making excuses for them at work, you are preventing them from making progress and confronting their issues.




The best way to help an alcoholic loved one is by recognizing the limitations of their situation. No matter how well you know someone, nagging, controlling, or enabling behavior will never get them to change. The most you could do is sit down with them, listen without judgment, and offer a rational discussion. You should also refer them to a trained professional to help them work within a trusted framework for their recovery.


Turn to Aspire Treatment Solutions for alcohol abuse therapy and intervention. As a premier rehabilitation center in Atlanta, GA, Aspire tailors recovery plans based on each patient's personal life experiences. Get in touch with us today to learn more.