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How to Help an Alcoholic

You can’t save people from themselves, but you can set your boundaries if you want to help an alcoholic.


  • Step 1: Know your subject Read all you can about alcoholism and co-dependency and talk to other alcoholics to understand the subject.
  • Step 2: Confront your own problems Solve your personal problems and know your limits. Forego any desire to rescue people.
  • TIP: Accept that most alcoholics do not fully recover. Love the person; hate the disease.
  • Step 3: Plan an intervention Plan an intervention with family members but always in the presence of a therapist. The drinker must be sober.
  • Step 4: Set boundaries Set clear boundaries, stating that to protect yourselves you expect action. Be ready to follow through on any consequence you set.
  • Step 5: Suggest treatment Suggest counseling and treatment options that you have researched, all the way to providing the local Alcoholics Anonymous numbers. But do not make the call for them.
  • Step 6: Be detached Remain detached, so that you can model the behavior you expect. Let the alcoholic face their consequences and never loan them money or indulge their excuses.
  • TIP: Drinking is merely a symptom of larger problems that the drinking helps bury.
  • Step 7: Join support organizations Join a support organization like Al-Anon to confront your own guilt and sense of responsibility. A supportive community strengthens you to grow healthy.
  • FACT: Did you know? Over 18 million Americans struggle with alcohol abuse or dependence.

You Will Need

  • Research
  • Recovering alcoholic friends
  • A therapist
  • Counseling and treatment options
  • Support organization

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