How to Help An Alcoholic Friend or Loved One and Guide Them to a Behavioral Health Professional

There are many topics that are easy to discuss with friends or loved ones, addiction is not typically one of them. While it may not be the easiest thing to bring up, the responsibility to do so may fall on your shoulders. Alcohol addiction can occur at any age or stage of life and there are often other contributing life-factors or psychological disorders that accompany it. Alcohol addiction can be tough to spot and may just look like casual “partying” at first for some. But casual partying can rapidly turn into something more – dependency. For others, the signs may be more apparent – lying, “needing it to relax”, blacking out, inability to stop, neglecting responsibilities, making dangerous choices while under the influence, and more. Your friend or loved one may even joke about it, make light of the situation, or completely insist there is no problem.

If you are concerned that your friend or loved one has an alcohol addiction it is important to approach the conversation without judgement and without shaming them. Though their addiction may sadden you, have caused emotional strain, or hurt you in some way, to successfully encourage them to seek help the best approach is to approach them from a loving perspective or – at a minimum – remain as neutral as possible. Their addiction and treatment is out of their control and beyond their ability which is why it is critical that they seek the help of a behavioral health professional. Addiction counseling is available for them and a good behavioral therapist will always approach treatment without any judgement. Always seek a behavioral therapist with experience and knowledge about addiction counseling because they will be familiar with the addictive process and the true impact of the addiction on the client as well as family, friends and their community. There are a variety of ways to treat alcohol addiction and the behavioral therapist, along with the input of the client, will determine what treatment plan is best. Options include Twelve Steps Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Rational Recovery (RR) – which is a secular discipline, or other forms of treatment and recovery. There is no one-size-fits-all approach because every person is unique and it is vital that the individual finds the right recovery program that they can stick with for the long haul.

If you are in the Scottsdale or Greater Phoenix area and you or someone you know needs a referral to a Behavioral Therapist with extensive experience in addiction counseling, Diebold Behavioral Counseling can help provide guidance and direct instruction on recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs. We have an addiction referral team in place that has a renowned DUI attorney, blood analysis expert and D.J. Diebold, a renowned behavioral health therapist to aid you in your recovery and treatment and help you meet any court mandated addiction counseling requirements as well. We want to help clients establish healthy coping skills and free themselves from alcohol addiction so that they can feel a sense of harmony and balance in their lives but it begins with the first step and sometimes that means a friend or loved one brings up a tough topic and helps restoration begin.

It started in college and let me tell you I had a blast, at least I think I did. And that’s part of the problem. For most of my life, I thought I had so much fun drinking and partying. Do you know anyone who rotted through the rear seat floorboard of their car from alcohol vomit? I didn’t think so. How about impulsively riding down the railroad tracks in your car? That was a trip. From two or three miles away I could see the headlight…yes, of the train. Please don’t think for a second that I’m bragging, though I did many times back then. I would feign this “reluctant” embarrassment with a lowered head. Ahem.

Ah, yes, what happened with the train? We bumped over the railroad ties laughing and raising hell until we saw that light. WHOA! My 3 buddies freaked. So, I slammed it into reverse and with all the concentration I could muster, backed up the half mile to the crossing. Now, just imagine sitting at the light and a car backs up to the intersection and pulls off the tracks and turns onto the street. Oh, by the way, when I did that, the railroad guards came down as if I were a train. Obviously I beat the train to the crossing, as I am writing this from this world.

Despite the thinly veiled self-deprecating humor, this continued until I was near middle age. Here’s a major part of the problem: unless we seriously hurt ourselves or others, this is considered normal! Right? You’ve heard or even said something to the effect like, he’s just a young man, kicking up his heels a bit. Oh, let him get it out of his system. No harm, no foul. Didn’t you kick up your heels when you were his age?

The fact is that the brain is a truly magnificent hunk of protoplasm. But even this amazing thing has its limits. From his ever-brilliant book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” by Dr. Daniel Amen, he displays SPECT scans, a 3D image of the brain, particularly the frontal lobe, our decision-making part of the brain. There are quite often, depending on the drug or alcohol, one inch by 2 inch holes where gray matter used to be. Where did it go? It brings new meaning to the phrase, what were you thinking?