How to Help Someone Quit Drinking Alcohol

Across the U.S., millions of people struggle every day with some form of an alcohol problem. If someone you love is in this situation, you may wonder how you can help them quit drinking alcohol. Fortunately, there are many options available for helping people quit drinking alcohol. Here are nine methods that work together  — with strong scientific evidence that they do work — to help someone quit drinking alcohol.

Quit Drinking Alcohol - Middle aged woman in a white tank top with a glass of wine in her left hand and drinking from a bottle of wine in her right hand. She needs help to quit drinking alcohol.

1) Learn More About the Nature of Alcohol Problems

If you want to help someone with alcohol problems stop drinking, you must first understand what you’re dealing with. Alcohol use disorder or AUD (which includes both alcoholism and non-addicted alcohol abuse) is a chronic condition. This means that it lacks a short-term solution and instead must receive ongoing attention and management. By learning more about AUD and its consequences, you can help prepare yourself for the ups and downs facing your loved ones in recovery.

2) Learn About the Resources Available for Alcohol Treatment

To understand the best way to stop drinking, it helps to familiarize yourself with the available resources for treatment. Public health officials and addiction specialists overwhelmingly recommend seeking professional assistance. That’s true, in part, because supervised treatment is acknowledged as the best way to detox from alcohol. For this and other reasons, treatment has higher chance of helping people learn how to stop drinking than taking on that challenge themselves. There are a range of detox and treatment options available, including outpatient programs, intensive outpatient programs, inpatient (i.e., residential) programs and partial hospitalization.

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3) Talk to Them About Their Problem Drinking

Any list of tips to stop drinking must include talking to the affected person about their dangerous alcohol use. This may not be a pleasant conversation to have. However, it’s essential to getting help. To make the process go as smoothly as possible, experts recommend a few steps, including:

  • Staying factual when discussing the specific problems, you’ve observed
  • Explaining your concerns about the known outcomes of problem drinking
  • Expressing how you’re affected by their drinking behaviors
  • Avoiding speech that could isolate the addicted person, such as threatening, lecturing, guilt-tripping or labeling someone as an alcoholic

4) Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help to Quit Drinking Alcohol

As part of your conversation about problem drinking, you’ll also want to encourage your loved one to seek help by enrolling in an alcohol treatment program. Be aware that many people reject offers of assistance at least once before changing their minds. Addiction can often breed resistance, so be prepared for the addicted person you love to deny that there is a problem, minimize the existence of the problem, or offer justifications for why treatment would not be helpful. It is important that this resistance is met with gentle compassion. This also means that you may need to try multiple times to encourage treatment when discussing how to beat alcoholism.

Both you and your loved one should know that the road to treatment often begins with a simple visit to a primary care physician. By suggesting a meeting with a familiar face, not an unknown third party, you can help put everyone at ease. Just as importantly, a doctor can make an official diagnosis of alcohol use disorder and make recommendations for appropriate outpatient or inpatient care.

5) Consider Involuntary Rehab

In a worst-case scenario, you may want to consider involuntary treatment as an option for how to stop drinking alcohol. In some states, family members can seek a court order to get their loved ones professional help. However, in most states, involuntary treatment is only allowable for people convicted of a crime and sentenced to rehab.

Does involuntary alcohol rehab work? The answer to that question is complicated and may vary from case to case. However, many studies show that such an approach can produce positive results. One example comes from an analysis published in 2013 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. In this study, researchers found that people forced to enter rehab completed their programs more than 10 times as often as people who went to rehab willingly.

6) Take Part In Treatment When Appropriate

When determining the best way to quit drinking, addiction specialists rely on a variety of treatment options. In some cases, your loved one’s treatment plan may include a form of family behavioral therapy. This type of therapy has several goals, including identifying family dynamics that help make alcohol problems more likely to occur. By taking part in family therapy, you can increase the odds that your loved one will learn how to stop drinking beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.

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7) Encourage Involvement In Continuing Care

Once your loved one completes outpatient or inpatient rehab, you may think that the problem is solved. However, that’s far from the case. After returning to daily life, many treatment program graduates can, sooner or later, return to a pattern of dangerous alcohol use. For most people, the best way to quit drinking long-term is to take part in a continuing care program.

Continuing care is designed to provide ongoing support for recovery from substance use problems. It comes in many forms, including enrollment in a mutual self-help group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). If your loved one wants to know how to quit drinking without AA, help is also available through various types of behavioral therapy. Check with the program your loved one graduated from to see if they offer continuing care plans.

8) Make Sure You Support Yourself

When seeking to help someone with serious drinking problems, don’t forget to seek help for yourself, as well. Without someone to turn to, you can easily find yourself burned out by the stresses and strains of caring for others. That’s not good for anyone. A variety of mutual self-help groups are available for the loved ones of people with alcohol use disorder, such as Al-Anon. You can also rely on close friends and family or seek counseling from a therapist who has experience with people in your circumstances.

9) Create a Supportive Home Environment to Quit Drinking Alcohol

If you take part in family therapy, you may learn that certain actions you take can unintentionally contribute to your loved one’s risks for harmful alcohol use. Even if that’s not the case, there may be elements of your home environment that make it harder to stop drinking and maintain sobriety. Do what you can to avoid this possibility. That may include taking such steps as quitting drinking yourself, removing alcohol from the premises and steering clear of others who drink.

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If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol abuse Find Addiction Rehabs is here to help. Call anytime 7 days a week 24 hours a day.

Alcohol Research – Current Reviews: Treating Alcoholism As a Chronic Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3625994/

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drugs, Brains and Behavior – The Science of Addiction: Treatment and Recovery                                                        https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus: Helping a Loved One With a Drinking Problem https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000815.htm

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Rethinking Drinking – Alcohol & Your Health: Thinking About a Change?                              https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Exploring Treatment Options for Alcohol Use Disorders                                                        https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA81/AA81.htm

Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment: Does Mandating Offenders to Treatment Improve Completion Rates?                                          https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578041/