If you have seen a friend go through a struggle with alcohol, then you know at least a bit about how difficult addiction can be. Cravings, withdrawals, and both physical and mental health problems are things that many alcoholics have to deal with daily.
As a loving friend, your first instinct is probably to help them. However, if you have no experience working with an alcoholic, you might not be sure where to start. In this article, I’ll explain how you can help an alcoholic friend stay sober.
The first thing that you’ll want to do is to make sure that you have a basic understanding of alcoholism.
Remember that very few alcoholics want to be where they are. In most cases, they are either struggling with some form of unaddressed mental or emotional condition; in other cases, recreational drinking caught up to them and led to a full-blown addiction. If your friend is struggling with a mental illness, you must take this into account, as well. Many alcoholics struggle with social anxiety, for example. How are you to help them if your mere presence makes them uncomfortable?
Following some of the following tips could help you maximize your ability to help your friend.
Tips on How to Help Your Friend
Get Some Education
It’s hard for someone who has never battled an addiction to understand what their addicted friends are truly going through. You can combat this by getting some basic education, through books or the Internet (like you’re doing right now.)
One thing to be cautious of is coming off as pompous. Don’t try to cajole or impress your friends with your knowledge of addiction – they’re likely aware that you’ve never experienced it firsthand, and this can come off as condescending.
Be There – Whatever the Case
The first and most important thing for you to do for your friend is simply be there for them. If they are open and talkative about their issue, then your simple presence will be a benefit. If they are less talkative, then let them know that you’re willing to hear them out if they want to talk about anything.
Remember that a recovering alcoholic will probably be going through emotional turmoil. They may lash out, become aggressive, or be otherwise unstable. Don’t take this personally, and remain as attentive and compassionate as possible.
Find Activities You Both Enjoy
The most common cause of relapse is boredom. Unfortunately, many recovering alcoholics have a hard time finding things that they enjoy enough to take their mind off of drinking. This is where you can come in.
Finding an activity that both of you enjoy can bring about an important social aspect. The bonding that occurs during these moments can be just as, if not more, important than the activity itself.
Be as encouraging and supportive as possible – but don’t let your kind words fall flat. Make sure your encouraging words are heartfelt and will help your friend see that they’re actually doing better than they were without alcohol.
There are many ways to help a recovering alcoholic. Being educated about the topic and spending time together is one of the best things that you can do for them.