Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
If a person in your life is often drinking alcohol to excess, binge drinking alcohol, or indulging in heavy drinking, they may be alcohol dependent or have an alcohol use disorder.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction include:
- Spend most of their time drinking, planning to drink, and hanging out in places where drinking is involved, with other drinkers
- Engaging in risky behaviors while drinking, like operating a vehicle or swimming, getting into legal trouble, or fighting
- Drinking even when it begins to cause health issues and problems at home or at work
- Hiding their drinking, drinking in the morning, or keeping stashes of alcohol around
- Developing a higher tolerance to alcohol
- Show signs of alcohol withdrawal when they try quitting or cutting back, and cannot reduce their drinking even though they want to
What Can You Do to Help an Alcoholic?
If your loved one or friend is an alcoholic, some ways to help them overcome addictions include:
- Learning about topics like enablement, triggers, addiction, the recovery process, psychological changes due to addiction, different types of treatments for alcohol abuse, and the health problems drinking causes
- Making changes to support their recovery and sober lifestyle
- Ensuring you take care of yourself. Do not blame yourself, do not take on more than you can handle emotionally, financially, or otherwise, and do not enable their drinking by taking on their responsibilities or providing financial help
- Researching nearby treatment centers and options for them to explore
- Encouraging your loved one to seek treatment
- Trying to understand that your loved one’s recovery can be one of the biggest challenges in an alcohol abuser’s life, and it is an ongoing process
What to Say to an Alcoholic Who Needs Help
When you speak to a person with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) and want to encourage them to seek professional treatment for substance abuse and addiction, you should try to speak with them somewhere quiet and comfortable when everybody is ready for a big conversation, entering with neutral emotions. Everybody should be sober, to avoid misunderstandings, and to ensure limits and boundaries are clear.
- Using “I” statements, focusing on your own experience, will help them feel less attacked, and less likely to become defensive. Some examples of “I” statements are “I have noticed…”, and “I feel…”
- Reasoning with a friend or family member who has an addiction is not likely to work, as the addict part of the brain can take over rationality. Instead, express your worries about their binge drinking or heavy drinking in a non-judgmental way, and provide treatment options, offering full support. If they do not seem receptive to the conversation, pause it and continue at another time. You cannot force a person to agree with you.
What Not to Say to an Alcoholic
When you are planning to talk to a person about stopping drinking, avoid:
- Talking to them while they are under the influence of alcohol
- Pointing out their “flaws”, with statements that may be hurtful and start a fight
- Do not blame or shame the person, instead, express concerns and disappointment
- Do not make threats or promises you do not intend on carrying out. Ultimatums almost never work
Holding an Intervention
Interventions work best when facilitated by a counselor, therapist, or professional interventionist, as they will keep the conversation on track as a neutral facilitator. To hold an intervention:
- Know what you want to say before you begin, as emotions tend to become intense during an intervention
- Come prepared with research on different types of rehabilitation plans, behavioral treatments, and other professional treatment options for alcohol use disorder AUD
- Make sure everybody at the intervention is giving the same message, and even rehearse beforehand
- Describe issues where the addiction caused problems to them and the family/friend group (use “I” statements)
- Decide on your boundaries beforehand, in case they refuse to get help (stop enabling, etc)
- Follow up afterward, going through with all promises and consequences you mentioned during the intervention
Can You Help an Alcoholic in Denial?
If your loved one does not want to go to alcohol rehab for their alcohol use disorder or does not believe they have a substance abuse problem, you may want to try and help them understand how their actions have consequences. You can set firm boundaries on your relationship by stopping helping them and enabling their use, and you can educate yourself on addiction and treatment methods and pass that information along in a supportive way.
Alcohol Rehab at Serenity Oaks
At Serenity Oaks, we offer a continuum of care that leads through all treatment levels for alcohol addiction treatment. These types of treatment programs include:
- Medical detox
- Inpatient rehab
- Outpatient Rehab (partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, alumni programs)
We will ensure they detox and rehabilitate in a safe, effective, and comfortable program that includes:
- medication-assisted detox to help withdrawal symptoms
- 12step programs
- alternative treatments like acupuncture, meditation, and yoga
- multi-dimensional family therapy
- motivational interviewing
- nutrition classes
- life skills training
- individual and group therapy including cognitive behavioral therapy
- customized treatment programs
- dual diagnosis programs to treat cooccurring mental illness and underlying trauma, including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and PTSD
- aftercare groups and a supportive alumni community
To find out more about the levels of care offered at Serenity Oaks to help your loved one quit drinking for good, contact our intake team today. We also help people affected by drug abuse, dual diagnosis, and other addiction treatments.
— Serenity Oaks (@Serenity_Oaks_) May 9, 2022