If a substance abuser starts drinking again is there anything that we can do to help him quit? First, let me clarify that Alcoholic’s Anonymous is the program where someone with a drinking problem goes to get help. Al-anon is for the friends and family members of the addict. If you are not involve in support group meetings start going to the Al-anon program as soon as possible; this is the first course of action that you should be taking if someone you love has started drinking alcohol again.
I saw a close relative get sober and start drinking again about four different times over the course of ten years. She finally got sober and stayed that way once she got plugged into the AA program. It took a family intervention to get her to quit on her last go round. Interventions do work and are for certain worth looking into. They are usually lead by professionals who know how to get the best results out of the effort put forth. The bottom line though is that the alcoholic will not be ready to quit unless they are hitting the low side of their addictions pretty hard. Nothing ventured nothing gained. Anything is worth a try when a friend or relative is caught in the grips of addiction.
In the Al-anon program a newcomer learns what is referred to as the three C’s.
- I didn’t “cause” the alcoholic to drink
- I cannot “cure” alcoholism
- I can’t “control” it
It is often said that there’s a fourth C, I can “contribute” to the problem in a negative way… When we understand that we are truly powerless over people, places and things, we will have more self-control and therefore irritate the situation less.
Mind Your Own Business
So, if a recovering alcoholic relapsed there is something that we can do, mind our own business. Since we are powerless over the alcoholic, the best course of action is to stay out of their hair.
Don’t Ride Them, They Already Feel Guilty Enough
If we nag them or argue with them it only makes them feel worse; which can add to their desire to drink more (the fourth “C”). Think about it …they already feel really guilty for letting themselves down and others because they failed at their attempt to stay sober. If we harp on them it will not cause them to quit and will most likely frustrate the situation more.
Love Them Without Conditions
Everyone wants to be accepted, no matter what state they are in. That’s what’s so appealing about God or Jesus; He accepts us just as we are and doesn’t condemn us. An alcoholic didn’t have intentions when they were younger to grow up to cause such destruction because of their addictions. No, they wanted to actually make a positive contribution to the world. Loving someone without conditions takes learning how to love. We teach the all of the methods for doing this in our Coping With Alcoholics lessons.
Encourage Them To Get Help
It’s a good idea when the alcoholic is sober to encourage them to seek out getting involved in the AA program. You should probably check out this video on “How To Communicate With An Alcoholic” first though. The substance abuser will find that if they have been in the AA program or never attended that they will not be judged for having a relapse; actually just the opposite will happen, the alcoholic will discover that they will be accepted and encouraged to stay sober one day at a time by the members of AA.
Have Tough Love With The Alcoholic
You want to learn how to keep a delicate balance between setting boundaries, not being an enabler, loving without conditions and letting go of the alcoholic. You should never allow them to treat you like a doormat. The addict has to hit bottom again if they are in denial about their drinking problem. Don’t be an enabler and make things comfortable for them.
So that’s a few ideas of what to do if someone you love starts drinking alcoholic again. Just remember that it may get a lot worse before things get better. They will either feel very remorseful for falling off the wagon and seek out help or feel like a giant failure and will saturate themselves with drinking massive amounts of alcoholic to cover over the pain.