How to help an alcoholic: The best alcoholism help guide

Learn about alcoholism, how to get alcoholics help, and the number to call for a free treatment consultation et cetera.

Are you looking for tips on how to help an alcoholic? If so, you have visited the right website as this page will be addressing some of the best alcoholism help tips among other information.

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance that can cause dependence with excessive consumption, resulting in a condition known as alcoholism.

There could be a number of reasons for alcoholism, rarely one single cause.

It is a complex social, economic, cultural, psychological and personal problem that harms not just the addict, but families and society at large and alcohol help are needed to get them back to their way of life.

It affects almost every part of the addict’s life, has an impact on her or his personal and professional lives and results in a range of physical, behavioral and mental problems.

It increases the risk of contracting various infections and injury conditions, premature death and disability.

Millions of people suffer from various stages of the disease.

While the figures that point to the scale of the problem are a definite wake-up call, it is important to explore the available areas of alcoholism help, specialized alcoholism treatments and other resources in prevention, management, and relapse prevention.

Definition – What is alcoholism?

Part of getting an alcoholic help is to understand alcoholism.

So what is alcoholism?

At various points in time, the condition has been termed a disorder, disease, dependence, abuse, etc.

It is characterized by the inability to manage one’s drinking behavior and curb the desire to consume alcohol.

Common factors include:

  • Drinking large amounts over a long period
  • Is unable to reduce consumption
  • Behavior changes significantly after consumption
  • Accessing and consuming alcohol occupies a great part of life
  • There are a strong desire and preoccupation with alcohol-related activities
  • Developing progressively higher levels of alcohol tolerance
  • Gradual failure to shoulder responsibilities and duties
  • Impact on personal, professional relationships resulting in breakdown and depression
  • Indulgence in risky situations and possible criminal activities like drinking and driving, theft and petty crimes, unsafe sex, etc
  • Development of social and health problems
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms if the person tries to quit

Alcoholism can be classified as mild, moderate and severe, based on the severity of symptoms and the related side-effects.

There are several sources of alcoholism help for an alcoholic that can be accessed to treat the addiction, deal with the underlying causes, getting help for an alcoholic with rehabilitation et cetera.

Many well-established organizations, support groups, specialized treatment programs, holistic medicine treatments, counseling, therapy, etc are available in the country.

Statistics – Do you know these about alcoholism?

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, published in September 2018 on their website, worldwide deaths due to “harmful use of alcohol” are about 3 million.

The WHO’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health reports that in 2005, the per capita consumption worldwide of alcoholic beverages by persons above the age of 15 amounted to 6.13 liters of pure alcohol.

Much of this was home-made, illegally produced, non-recorded alcohol

Binge drinking and drinking to intoxication is on the rise among adolescents and young adults, with the popularity of carbonated, pre-packaged products.

Alcoholism or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects a significant part of the population in the US.

In a 2015 study, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 15.1 million adults (9.8 million men and 5.3 million women) in the US were suffering from alcoholism.

Of greater concern, the study also reported that underage alcoholism between the ages of 12-17 affected nearly 623,000 teenagers.

Binge drinking is common among young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 15% of Americans between 18-34, especially white males and college students report episodic binge drinking.

41% of Americans admitted to hospitals for substance abuse underwent treatment for alcohol abuse between 1998-2008.

Nearly 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related deaths in the US.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimates that more than 35% of American adults who were diagnosed as alcohol-dependent are currently in full recovery.

This means they practice complete abstinence or they’re low-risk drinkers as deemed by American Psychological Association standards.

Among the group of abstainers, 49% had received treatment, while only about 12% of high-risk alcoholics reported that they had received formal alcoholism help.

Getting the right alcoholism help is important to stem the tide and prevent a crisis in personal, family, social and national life.

Help for an alcoholic is not just the responsibility of the spouse, parent, children or the family.

Reducing the harmful use of alcohol that results in significant physical, social and economic burden is a public health priority.

Alcoholism stages

Associate professor of Applied Psychology at Yale, bio-statistician, alcohol-abuse researcher and author of an extensive study titled The Disease Concept of Alcoholism, E.M. Jellinek or Elvin Morton “Bunky” Jellinek proposed the theory of alcoholism as a progressive disease and identified several different types.

His model of the stage-wise classification of alcoholism has served as a base for further studies and areas of research.

These help in getting the right help for an alcoholic.

The four main stages according to this model are:

  • Pre alcoholism
  • Early-stage
  • Middle-stage
  • Late-stage

Pre-alcoholism

Pre alcoholism comprises casual experimentation that leads to higher tolerance levels.

This behavior is commonly associated with being a coping mechanism to deal with anxiety, stress, depression, or other emotional issues.

Early-stage

The early stage of alcoholism or what Jellinek refers to as the transitional stage is notable for the development of a cyclical pattern of alcohol abuse.

The individual seeks out social gatherings where drinking is acceptable. It becomes a pattern of dealing with hangovers and facing negative social consequences that result.

Blackouts are common at this stage.

Middle-stage

Jellinek deems this the most crucial stage.

Drinking becomes more frequent and consistent, often beginning in the morning.

Relationships with family and friends begin to get strained.

Behavior changes can be noticed.

Hangovers and craving for a drink are common.

Late-stage

The late-stage is characterized by complete loss of control.

Drinking becomes compulsory for the body to be without withdrawal symptoms

At this point, they may be termed “diseased.”

The Jellinek Curve is a tool that charts the progressive stages of alcoholism.

It details the specific events that occur at every stage.

Though it was named after him, he dissociated himself with it.

However, it is a useful instrument for recovery and rehabilitation.

It enables patients to get a visual description of the disease, helps them/their families to understand that they are not alone.

It gives a timeline of addiction that allows them to understand the progress of the disease.

There are other classifications such as:

  1. Learning mood swing
  2. Seeking mood swing
  3. Drinking in spite of physical, social and financial consequences
  4. Drinking to feel normal and block out guilt, shame, anxiety. This stage can result in premature death.

Another 3-stage model describes the condition as:

  1. Adaptive: Where physical signs are not noticed by drinker or others, there is increased tolerance, the person feels they have the capacity.
  2. Dependent: Symptoms of dependency, with a hangover. The person begins to drink more frequently, tries to avoid obvious intoxication.
  3. Deterioration: Organ damage leading to death unless medical treatment is given.

Get alcohol help immediately for yourself or loved even if you or they are at the pre alcoholism or early stages.

Do not wait for things for you or them to turn into an alcoholic before getting alcohol help.

What contributes to alcoholism?

There are several risk factors associated with alcoholism:

  • Genetics
  • Environment
  • Family history
  • Mental and physical health
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Availability
  • Social and Cultural factors

Genetics

The role of genetic factors has been supported by researchers. Some believe that genetics may be about 40% or more responsible for alcohol abuse or addiction.

Experts in the field have also noted that genetic factors are involved in higher tolerance for alcohol and addiction risk being passed from a parent to a child.

Environment and family history

Children brought up by alcoholic parents or regular drinkers are at risk.

The behavior of peers, co-workers, social group and/siblings can play a role.

Abused, neglected or children exposed to domestic violence may be at risk.

Mental and physical health

Underlying emotional issues like depression, anxiety, physical problems like pain, disability, etc can cause dependence on alcohol/other substances.

Gender

Gender may also play a role in the factors that lead to alcoholism.

According to some studies and experts, men are prone to become addicted to alcohol.

Age and availability

Dependence usually starts at an earlier age. Adolescents and college students are prone to binge-drinking. The availability of alcohol contributes to dependence, with it being easily accessible at home or in social situations.

Social/cultural factors

Drinking is permissible in many cultures but frowned upon in others.

This can work both ways, with excessive control, leading to secret drinking, or lack of dependence in societies where drinking is part of the culture.

Getting the right alcoholism help should be based on a clear understanding of the possible causes.

Help for alcoholics can be made much more efficient, swift and targeted once the contributory factors are identified.

The risks of not getting an alcoholic help

Untreated alcoholism can have a serious impact on the mind and the body of the addict.  In clinical terms, it can lead to “alcohol poisoning.”

There are huge risks of not getting alcoholism help. Based on the stage of alcoholism diagnosed, it can cause:

  • Liver damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Compromised immunity
  • Brain damage
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), chronic alcohol consumption causes thiamine deficiency, reduced enzyme activity, reduced dietary intake.”

The lack of thiamine produces reduced brain functioning and leads to “Wet Brain Syndrome” or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

This is a neurological condition characterized by loss of control over voluntary movements, eye abnormalities, memory loss, lack of muscle coordination, dementia, cardiovascular disease, and limited life expectancy.

Social implications: When left untreated or not properly managed, it can lead to the inability to manage emotions, repeated instances of risky or unsafe behaviors, anger, aggression, lack of interest in work or relationships, low tolerance for stress, negative or suicidal thoughts, self-pity, denial and “dry drunk” syndrome.

Teen alcoholism – Alcohol risk among teens and adolescents

Underage drinking is a worrisome public health problem in the US. Statistics show that 33% of teens have consumed alcohol by age 15, 60% by age 18.

Binge drinking is common among young people between 12-20. Prevalence is common across both genders, but older adolescent boys tend to drink more than girls.

Studies conducted in 2017 over a 30-day period by the CDC reveal:

  • 30% of teens consumed some level of alcohol
  • 14% were involved in binge-drinking
  • 6% admitted to drunk driving
  • 17% admitted to riding with a drunk driver

According to studies conducted by the Foundation For A Drug-Free World, more teenagers die due to alcohol abuse as compared to other drugs.

Alcoholism is prevalent along with other addictions in 30% of heavy drinkers aged 11+

An organization called the Drug Abuse Warning Network reports that more than 185,000 people who got alcohol-related emergency treatment were between the ages of 12-20.

It’s important to get alcoholism help to teens and adolescents as the risk of not doing so is huge.

Risks of teenage/adolescent alcoholism:

  • Results in death from drunken driving, homicide, alcohol poisoning, falls, drowning and suicide
  • Injuries sustained in accidents
  • Higher risk of sexual and physical assault
  • Impaired judgment
  • Aggressive, violent behavior
  • Trouble in school or with the law-enforcing authorities
  • Impairs brain development
  • Increases risks of alcoholism in later life
  • Social problems that involve fighting, avoidance of regular social activities
  • Health problems: hangover, weakness, infections
  • Memory lapses

Alcohol help could be delayed in the teenage years because of a lack of awareness, parental vigilance, and social denial.

How to help an alcoholic – These may affect and enable the condition

Alcoholism help is a crucial factor in recovery and rehabilitation.

Help for an alcoholic has to be sustained, proactive and consistent.

When you have a family member or friend who suffers from AUD, it’s important to get a thorough screening, intervention, and diagnosis done.

It’s also important to recognize how certain relationships affect/enable the condition such as:

Co-dependency: enabling the conditions that allow addiction, such as providing money, unquestioning acceptance, remaining in the relationship despite the abuse, neglecting other relationships.

Discussion: Families and friends are often in denial. They are reluctant to broach the subject or confront the addict head-on.

It’s important to have simple, focused and firm discussions about the addict’s behavior and how it impacts the rest of the family.

The discussion should be honest, expressing fear, sorrow, and concern.

Intervention: A family round-table, a group of friends getting together to confront the addict and provide practical intervention is a good way to provide alcohol help.

Support: Expression of love, help with making the changes and finding treatment, setting clear boundaries, practical support like accompanying the person to treatment, etc. can sustain recovery.

Awareness: It’s important to gain maximum awareness about the condition, healthcare risks, consequences, etc. from professional health care workers.

Follow-up support: Positive support includes not creating situations where the addict is exposed to alcohol, staying positive and supportive after treatment, helping to make lifestyle and dietary changes, involving those near and dear, etc

An overview of the treatment options for alcoholics

Social and personal barriers can prevent the recognition of an alcohol problem.

Some alcoholics stay under the radar by not causing any obvious issues in their relationships or careers.

Family members and close friends or co-workers may be the first to suspect addiction.

The good news is there when an alcohol issue is recognized, there are some treatment options.

The CAGE questionnaire and other screening tools can get alcoholics to help on time.

There are certain blood and urine tests to identify the presence of alcohol in the body, but they are not useful in identifying alcoholism.

In general, the first level of help for an alcoholic starts from the person’s family doctor or GP.

These professionals can recommend certain programs or specialized alcoholism treatments, depending on the stage of alcoholism.

There are different treatment facilities available either as inpatient or outpatient options.

The selection would depend on the degree of severity, the doctor’s recommendations, diagnosis, and the person’s own level of motivation et cetera.

Residential alcoholism program is great for people at the mid or late stages of alcoholism.

While the outpatient program can be safe and effective provided it is matched accurately to the stage and patients have been professionally diagnosed and screened.

Specialized treatment programs for alcoholism help focus on:

  • Cessation of alcohol intake
  • Life-skills training and support for resisting the urge to drink
  • Therapy to treat underlying psychological causes if any
  • Relapse preventions
  • Other mental disorder issues

Alcoholism treatment programs typically include medical detoxification to remove the substance toxins from one’s body before the main treatment will commence.

However, this may be difficult as there may be severe withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Detox:

Medical detox is what is recommended for the middle and late stages.

Alcoholism creates changes in brain chemistry and these have to be treated with appropriate drugs to reduce the effects.

Some of the FDA approved drugs used during detox and rehab to manage withdrawal symptoms are: Acamprosate, Naltrexone, and Disulfiram in two formulations, Nalmefene.

There are other drugs used and it’s important to check whether they are approved and safe.

Residential Treatments: Inpatient treatment is recommended for middle and late-stage alcoholism

In these cases, alcoholism often presents with other addictions like smoking and drug abuse.

Treatments may have to address all these issues in a residential program.

Group therapy with a mutual self-help group can help to maintain and support rehabilitation.

Intensive outpatient programs: are ideal for early-stage and mid-level addiction.

Some therapies recommend the use of tapered drinking to reduce withdrawal and instill better control and long-term resistance.

These are coupled with prescription medications and group therapies for psychological support.

Outpatient programs: The outpatient programs are useful for pre-addiction and early-stage alcoholism where there is enough personal motivation from the addict’s side.

It involves prescription medication, group therapy, and counseling, support in rehabilitation or restoration of normal working life and family life.

Aftercare: Aftercare or continuum rehab programs are a big part of successful alcohol treatment. These programs help prevent relapse and lead to positive long term treatment results.

Aftercare may include:

  • Sober-living houses: Sober-living houses provide a structured environment with an affordable, alcohol-free environment to fully establish your avoidance skills.
  • 12-step programs: The 12 step programs of AA ( Alcohol Anonymous) have shown a lot of success and people are encouraged to attend and finish them after their main rehab is over.
  • Therapies: Seeing a counselor or therapist after the main rehab is over has proven to be a good investment choice for those on the journey for alcohol recovery.

What type of help do specialized treatment professionals offer?

It’s important to understand the stage of addiction that the person is going through.

It’s also important to recognize that this issue has an impact on the entire ecosystem that the addict lives in.

Alcoholism in advanced stages causes:

  • Financial problems
  • Trust issues
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Career loss
  • Conflicts and arguments
  • Bad decision making
  • Unsafe and risky behavior

The good news is that there are several specialized alcoholism treatment professionals all over the country that provide excellent alcoholism help for all kinds of people dealing with alcoholism.

Alcoholism help is first sought by a family member or spouse because of the vitiated atmosphere created by the habit.

  • Getting professional help is crucial as families are often in denial or defensive modes.
  • Help for an alcoholic is best provided by trained, qualified, experienced professionals.
  • It is the safest, most efficient way to deal with the problem.
  • Self-treatment or home-based amateur treatments often end in relapse.
  • Professionals are more objective and can devise the right strategy to prevent relapse.
  • Professional interventionists coach the family to work as a team to collectively choose the right treatment plan.
  • This helps to identify/deal with underlying causes.
  • Treatment options include family therapy to deal with strained relationships, abuse, trauma, dysfunctional communication, etc.
  • Group therapy and counseling provide support to prevent relapse.
  • Time-tested programs like the 12-step can help with rehabilitation.
  • Professionals can deal with withdrawal symptoms and prescribe necessary medications.
  • Contingency management and sponsor programs help with providing job-skills, employment, re-training, education etc.

Treatment length options

Though there’s no one-size-fits-all formula, based on the stage of alcoholism and the degree of severity, there are different options available:

  • Short-term alcoholism treatment programs(28 and 30-day options) are a good starting point and help with immediate withdrawal symptoms, and establish basic relapse-prevention strategies. It is easy to commit to and can be extended if required.
  • Long term alcoholism treatment program options (60,90,120, 180-days and one-year options): The 60 days and above alcoholism treatment duration is what is recommended for those at the mid and late-stage of alcoholism.

The 90-day alcoholism treatment programs and above are deemed to have the highest success rate. They’re more comprehensive and useful for severe/long-term addiction.

How to get an alcoholic help when he or she refuses?

Providing alcohol help for an alcoholic can be challenging.

Denial and refusal to confront the issue are common among alcoholics.

Typical when you suggest help for an alcoholic he or she might go or refuse.

Below are some tips that will help get someone into alcohol rehab.

  • It’s important not to become an enabler or co-dependent when you want to provide help for an alcoholic.
  • Explore professional options as soon as possible such as seeking addiction intervention services.
  • Also, consider getting the court to order the person into rehab.
  • Plan the confrontation very carefully and map out exactly how you want to handle it.
  • Choose a discussion time when the person is sober and avoid blame-games.
  • Stay calm and avoid conflicts/aggression/confrontation.
  • Don’t get trapped by promises and assurances given by alcoholics.
  • Work together as a family and allow the addict to know how her/his behavior impacts everyone.

Related: Ways To Motivate A Loved One To Go Into An Alcohol Rehab Program

How much does getting help cost?

Alcohol help costs vary greatly across treatment centers based on many factors.

Below are just some numbers to give you an idea. You have to speak with a treatment facility to get an actual cost of getting help for an alcoholic.

  • Detox: $1000-1500
  • In-patient: $6000-20,000 for 30-day program, $12,000-60,000 for 60-90day programs
  • Out-patient: $5000-10,000 for 3-month program
  • Medication: Several thousand a year

Will insurance cover my alcohol dependency rehab?

Getting help for an alcoholic is more affordable after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Based on the specific plan, you can get insurance for:

  • Inpatient care in an approved facility
  • Outpatient care with an approved provider
  • Medical detox (inclusive medications)
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Follow-up counseling
  • Maintenance medications

Though there may be limits and specifications on the actuals, you can get insurance support for alcoholism help even if it was a preexisting issue.

Final thoughts

Alcoholism is a serious public health problem across the US.

It affects the social, economic, personal, psychological and cultural fabric of the nation.

Getting the right alcoholism help is of vital importance.

There are several well-established lines of specialized treatment geared to handle the problem.

Professional help for an alcoholic is essential to maintain rehabilitation.

Speak with a professional now

We hope that this information on how to help an alcoholic was helpful.

If you still have questions or would like to speak with a treatment center, please contact the number on the website.

You will be able to speak with a treatment facility admission counselor for a free no-obligation consultation. 866-579-8790!

Get yourself or a loved one the alcohol help needed today!