Out of all the hardships to go through in life, watching a loved one fall down the addiction abyss has got to be one of the cruelest. That’s because addiction is a destructive process in which one is forced to stand on the sidelines and watch as their loved ones’ life keeps taking turns for the worse, gradually losing all the traces of the person they once were. If you’re worried about a loved one struggling with alcohol addiction, here are 7 steps to help guide them back to the best version of themselves.

1- Recognize the Symptoms

Becoming an alcoholic is often easier to hide than other forms of addiction. That’s because drinking alcohol is usually socially accepted, so there’s no need to hide it. The problem becomes even more complicated if the person lives alone, in which case it can be easier to abuse alcohol. Therefore, the first step is recognizing the symptoms of alcohol addiction, which are usually a combination of the following symptoms:

  • Drinking too much alcohol frequently
  • Repeatedly blacking out from drinking too much
  • Repeatedly engaging in dangerous behavior
  • Feeling restless and/or aggressive without alcohol
  • Ignoring responsibility and lack of productivity
  • Social withdrawal

2- Get Educated About the Addiction

There’s a lot of stigma around addiction and alcoholism, but the fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, it’s a disease. It’s important to understand that while taking the first steps is typically the responsibility of the alcoholic, some individuals are more prone to becoming addicted due to genetic disposition. In addition to heredity factors, alcohol addiction gradually affects the mental and physical health of the patient, which worsens their case. Before confronting a loved one or deciding to intervene, understanding everything they’re going through is crucial for the treatment success.

3- Research Treatment Options

Depending on the severity of the addiction, treatment options will vary accordingly. Sometimes, admitting the alcoholic patient into a rehab facility is the best course of action; however, there are more factors to look into than just choosing a facility. The best facility will offer a comprehensive treatment program that includes detoxification, medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, complementary alternative therapy, as well as relapse prevention education. Furthermore, the attitude of the treating personnel is just as important as the devised program.

4- Stage an Intervention

Regardless of how much someone is struggling, having someone else, no matter how close they are, call them out or shame them will only force them to withdraw deeper into their addiction. To avoid such a dire outcome, understanding how to help someone get into rehab can be considered the most crucial and sensitive step in the whole process. Sometimes, you may be lucky enough to be asked for help from your struggling friend or relative, which makes the treatment easier to accomplish. However, in case they haven’t asked for help, you can’t just go and talk to them about having an issue. You’ll have to stage an intervention plan for what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and the people involved. The importance of planning for all of the possible outcomes when staging an intervention can never be stressed enough.

5- Choose the Right Time to Talk

Talking out of the blue about having alcohol addiction issues just won’t cut it. If your loved one doesn’t believe they need help, they’ll only feel attacked and your concern will immediately be dismissed, if not rejected. For your intervention to be most effective, try to stage it after a major addiction-related incident. That’s the best way to get them to understand the severity of their situation, and feeling guilty may prompt them to seek the help they may be too proud to ask for otherwise.

6- Have a Backup Plan

Planning carefully for the intervention and setting a carefully devised a treatment plan are essential steps in taking care of your loved one’s alcoholism. However, you should also be prepared in case they reject your help and shut you out. In this scenario, you should have a backup plan of how to guide them back to sobriety, whether it’s through a different intervention method, a change of persuasion methods, or seeking counseling about how to guide them.

7- Follow-up on the Treatment

Admitting fault and taking responsibility can be impossible at first for an alcoholic, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on them just yet. Even if they hate you or blame you for intervening, as the treatment starts to work and they get their sense of responsibility back, they’ll start to appreciate your concern. Until then, the most important thing to do is provide them with the support system they need to get through this rough patch.

Whatever form it takes, addiction will always be destructive to a certain extent; the severity of the damage will depend on each case. That’s why knowing what you can, and should, do for your loved ones in such a difficult time is of the utmost importance. You may be the only hope to save their lives.