How To Help A Loved One

When we think of alcohol use disorder, there are a number of ways we can help a loved one. Often we think patients must go to a rehab centre for help. There are other options available when attending a rehab centre is not an option or wanted by the person affected.

One of the most important things to understand is how much help the person would like. Often times you may be expecting something different from your loved one. For example, they might want to cut back on their drinking but you may want them to stop completely. This can be a difficult conversation. However, help is most effective and the least frustrating when we can meet the person where they are.

Here are a number of ways you can help a loved one:

Harm Reduction

Sometimes a person is not ready to completely stop drinking. This is when you can think of ways to decrease the harm they can do to themselves. This includes things like limiting the number of drinks, only buying the amount of alcohol one wants to drink, or finding days where one does not drink. It is important to watch for alcohol withdrawal when trying to cut back on drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. If there is a history of severe alcohol withdrawal (including seizures, tremors, vomiting, sweating, hallucinations etc), please seek medical advice prior to cutting back.

Click here for more info: here or

Withdrawal Management 

When a person with an alcohol addiction tries to cut back on drinking, or completely stop drinking, they can experience withdrawal. Withdrawal from alcohol can be life threatening, so you need to provide appropriate support. Signs of withdrawal include sweating, shaking, vomiting, anxiety, seizures, and hallucinations. Often this is referred to as “detoxing”. These are a few ways you can help someone detox:

  • Clinics or Pharmacologics: Get a prescription medication from a doctor to manage the withdrawal symptoms. This is a medication that can be taken by the patient at home on their own schedule. 
  • Daytox programs: These are programs where individuals stay at home, while also getting support for their withdrawal and detox. This can mean going to a program during the day, and coming home at night or having a nurse come support you in the home. 
  • Detox Centres: This is a centre where a patient will stay for up to a week to completely stop using a substance and have support for withdrawal.

Maintenance of no drinking or decreased drinking

Once a person has detoxed, or decided to decrease the amount they drink, they will need continued support to help maintain this decision. Here are some ways one can be supported through this process:

  • Medical Clinics Specialized for Alcohol Use 

These are clinics where you can meet with a doctor who specializes in alcohol addiction. The patient will meet with this doctor to discuss strategies to cut down drinking, or stop drinking. Sometimes this means getting medication prescribed, or connecting with other community resources. 

You can also visit your family doctor’s office as a first step to treating the addiction.

  • Counselling or Support Groups

Finding a trusted counsellor or support group is very important for decreasing and helping with drinking habits. This way the patient does not feel alone in their journey or is able to discuss the difficulties faced with battling addiction. Also it can create healthier coping strategies and address mental health issues contributing to the addiction. 

  • Rehabilitation Centre 

Sometimes patients need a fully integrated rehab program to stop their drinking habits. There are different private and public options for rehab services where a person will stay at a centre for 1 or up to 6 months. Here they will stay away from alcohol and also learn life skills on how to build a life without alcohol use. 

*The Content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is intended for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.