How to Help an Alcoholic: What to Do, Where to Start?

Do you know someone who you think has a problem with drinking? If someone in your life can’t go anywhere without having a drink or if they have compromised their personal relationships because of alcohol, then they may be an alcoholic. It is important to know how to approach a person who has a problem with alcohol consumption in a way that will not put them on the defensive or make them feel attacked.

When a person is grappling with alcohol dependency, they are often in denial about having a problem. It can be very challenging to get them to seek treatment or admit to themselves or others that they need help.

In order to understand alcoholism and how to help an alcoholic, it is important to know about the stages that they go through and the risk factors involved.

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Risk Factors

If a person’s parents or grandparents were alcohol or drug addicts, then they will have a higher chance of becoming an alcoholic themselves. A person who suffers from mental illness may also be inclined to develop a problem with alcohol.

The Stages of Alcoholism

The stages of alcoholism were first developed by a biostatistician named  Elvin Morton Jellinek in 1960. They can serve as a guide for knowing when someone has a problem.


When a person begins using alcohol as a way of dealing with their problems, they may be considered a pre-alcoholic. A high tolerance for alcohol may develop during this stage.

Early Stage

Alcohol dependency increases during this stage and a person may use every party or event that they go to as an excuse for drinking. They may have blackouts and even use alcohol as a cure for a hangover.

Middle Stage

If a person needs a drink in order not to feel sick or if they drink in the morning, they are in the middle stage of alcohol dependency. This is the stage where a person’s drinking habits may take a toll on their personal relationships. It is in the middle stage that it is considered critical for an alcoholic to get help.

Late Stage

When a person physically craves alcohol, they are in the late stage of alcohol dependency. At this stage, they will need a drink to feel normal.

Getting Help

When a person is struggling with alcoholism, it is important to seek professional help. According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 36% of people who recover from the disease have undergone some form of professional rehabilitation. Treatments can include such things as group therapy, medication and one-on=one psychiatric treatment.

Many people will opt for an alcohol and drug treatment center to help them with the difficult process of recovery. A treatment center can provide detox, medical care, peer counseling and psychotherapy all in one convenient location. Many of the better treatment centers will even have such things as holding an intervention and equine-assisted therapy. Most treatment centers will take insurance.

Approximately 14.4 million people in the United States suffer from alcohol addiction. No one should ever feel alone with this problem. Recovery is possible with the right treatment and support system.

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