How can you best help a struggling addict or alcoholic? There are a number of things that you can do.
First, help yourself. This is an important first step for you. Often times, we are in a close relationship with a struggling addict, and living through this tough situation will wear you down. So the first step is to get some help yourself. The best place to do this is at an Al-Anon meeting. The people there know exactly what you are going through and can give you “expert” advice on how to best deal with the struggling addict in your life.
Learn about addiction.This is a critical step in your journey if you are to help an addict to find recovery. Understanding the disease model of addiction will be helpful in dealing both with the addict, as well as to guide some of your own behavior towards them. A great place to learn about addiction and alcoholism is, again, at Al-anon meetings.
Setting boundaries and limits. Another important tool in helping a struggling addict or alcoholic is to set boundaries. This is important for both your sanity as well as their recovery. First, you have to decide what is and what is not acceptable behavior on their part. For example, if they go to jail for drunk driving, is that acceptable to you? If not, then tell them, and let them know how you will react. (“I will not bail you out of jail any more.”). Do not make idle threats here; state your meaning and think things through and be very specific. Let them know that you are going to live outside of their madness and chaos.
Organize a formal intervention. If things continue to get worse, and nothing seems to help, then you might consider organizing a formal intervention. This is basically where you round up all of the family and friends of the struggling addict and confront him as a group and urge them to take some action (such as quit using or go to treatment). The details of planning an intervention are outside the scope of this article, but there is help available if you decide to go this route.