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April 24, 2024

Navigating alcohol abuse: How to support a loved one

IU Health West Hospital

Navigating alcohol abuse: How to support a loved one

Written by Trisha Palencer, director of chronic pain and chemical dependency at the IU Health West Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness for alcohol abuse. Many families face difficulties when a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse. Supporting someone through this journey requires empathy, patience and a multifaceted approach aimed at both the individual and their support system.

Understanding alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse is a complex issue with multifaceted roots. It impacts not only the individual but also their relationships, work and overall well-being. Recognizing the signs, which may include increased tolerance, mood swings and neglect of responsibilities, is the first step in addressing the problem.

Open communication

Initiating open, non-judgmental conversations can pave the way for support. Express your concerns calmly, emphasizing care and understanding. Listening actively and without interruption fosters trust and encourages your loved one to share their struggles.

Educate yourself

Learning about alcohol abuse, its effects, and available treatments equips you to offer informed support. Understand that addiction is a complex disease, often requiring professional intervention.

Encourage treatment

Gently encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Offer to assist in finding resources, whether it's counseling, therapy, support groups or an addiction treatment program. Highlighting the benefits of seeking help can alleviate the fear and stigma often associated with treatment.

Establish boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is crucial for both your well-being and that of your loved one. Enabling behaviors, such as covering up their actions or making excuses for them, can perpetuate the cycle of abuse. Express your support while maintaining boundaries that safeguard your own mental and emotional health.

Practice self-Care

Supporting someone with alcohol abuse can be emotionally taxing. Engage in self-care activities to recharge and maintain your own well-being. Seek support from friends, family, or professional counselors to navigate your own emotions and challenges.

Stay committed

Recovery from alcohol abuse is a journey with ups and downs. Stay committed to supporting your loved one through this process. Celebrate their milestones and remain a pillar of encouragement during setbacks.

Encouraging hope

Remind your loved one that recovery is possible. Share stories of individuals who have successfully overcome similar challenges. Instill hope and emphasize that seeking help is a courageous step towards a healthier, fulfilling life.

Remember, while you can offer support, the decision to seek help ultimately rests with your loved one. Encouragement and support are vital, but respecting their autonomy and readiness to change is equally important. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse, you can call the IU Health West Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center at 317.217.2711.

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