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More than 15 million adults over the age of 18 struggle with alcoholism. Of the people in this group, only about 6 percent ever receive treatment.

If you have a family member or loved one who’s struggling with alcoholism and is in need of help, it can be hard to know where to start. There are a number of different treatment options available and everybody’s specific needs are different.

If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, keep reading.

Explained below is some important information that will teach you how to catch signs of alcoholism. You’ll also learn how to help an alcoholic navigate the different alcohol treatment options.

Signs of Alcoholism

When it comes to figuring out how to help an alcoholic, one of the most important things to do is learn the signs that someone is abusing alcohol. Some of the most common signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • An increase in drinking: Drinking multiple glasses of wine with dinner when one used to be enough
  • Episodes of binge drinking: This means drinking four+ drinks in less than two hours for women and five+ drinks for men
  • Using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with stress or difficult life events
  • Experiencing blackouts
  • Lying about how much or how often they’re drinking
  • Experiencing physical or emotional changes: Weight gain, malnutrition, low libido, depression, digestive issues
  • Increase in falls or accidents
  • Violent or aggressive behavior toward others

In the late stages of alcoholism, it’s also common for alcoholics to have run-ins with the law. These are often the result of crimes like reckless driving or domestic abuse.

How to Help an Alcoholic

Have you determined that someone in your life is struggling with alcoholism? If so, it’s important to make sure they’re aware of the various treatment options available to them.

Some of the most common treatments designed to help alcoholics recover include:


Doctors can prescribe medications that will help treat alcohol dependence. They do this by offsetting the changes that alcoholism causes in the brain.

All of these approved medications are non-habit-forming, so they’re safe to use without concern about your loved one trading one addiction for another one.

These medications are typically most effective when they’re combined with other forms of treatment.

Alcohol Counseling

Alcohol counseling involves working with a mental health professional to identify and change behaviors that lead to alcohol abuse.

Some things that counselors work on fostering in alcoholics include:

  • Building a social support system
  • Setting reachable goals
  • Learning to identify and cope with triggers that could cause a relapse

There are a few different types of alcohol counseling that alcoholics can try:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of therapy focuses on identifying triggers and learning to cope with them
  • Motivational enhancement therapy: This is a short-term type of therapy that helps alcoholics gain motivation to change their behavior
  • Marital and family counseling: This can be a good option for alcoholics who need the support of their spouse and children

Alcohol counseling can take place on an in-patient or out-patient basis, depending on the severity of the person’s addiction and their attitude toward treatment.

Alcoholism Support Groups

Alcoholism support groups — such as Alcoholics Anonymous — are another good option for people who need the support of others who are going through similar circumstances.

Support groups can be incredibly beneficial, and they are free and accessible to all kinds of people. The anonymity is also appealing to people who may be struggling with feelings of shame or guilt about their addiction.

Government Treatment

The United States government also provides services and resources designed to help people who are struggling with alcoholism.

One of the most well-known is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (also known as SAMHSA). This organization provides information and treatment referrals.

There are also organizations that offer in-patient treatment services to people who can’t afford to go to a private facility. Since they’re government-funded, these facilities tend to have longer wait lists and strict requirements for who can participate.

Choosing the Right Treatment Option

As you can see, there are a lot of treatment options available for people struggling with an alcohol addiction. How do you help your loved one decide which is right for them?

If they’re considering a counseling program, some questions you can ask to help them narrow down their selection include:

  • What kind of treatment does the program offer? Do they prescribe medication, or do they strictly focus on group and one-on-one discussion?
  • Is treatment tailored to the individual? Some treatment options emphasize group therapy, while others only utilize one-on-one treatment.
  • How does the program handle relapse? Are addicts given opportunities to start over?

If your loved one is considering working with a professional counselor, it’s also important for them to make sure they find someone who makes them feel respected and understood. It can be incredibly difficult to get sober when you feel judged during every appointment.

Bonus Tips for Supporting an Alcoholic

In addition to helping them find the right form of treatment, there are other things you can do to help an alcoholic feel loved and supported. Some easy ways to do this include:

  • Pay attention to changes they make and acknowledging or praising their efforts
  • Listening to their concerns without judgment
  • Providing a safe place free from temptation for them to spend time
  • Avoiding “hovering” or micromanaging them — give them space to live their lives

Last, but certainly not least, make sure you’re being patient with your loved one. Let them know that you love them unconditionally, even if they slip up.

Get Help Today

As you can see, when it comes to figuring out how to help an alcoholic, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Inpatient addiction treatment isn’t for everyone, but many people see great benefits from it.

If you have a loved one who is struggling with alcohol addiction and could benefit from one-on-one treatment, contact us today for a free evaluation.

We’ll work with you and your loved one to decide what the best approach is for their specific needs.