It is often frustrating for the loved ones of an alcoholic, especially when it comes to finding help for that person. If you are in the position where you are looking for advice on how to help an alcoholic girlfriend there are a number of things you can do. There is also a variety of places you can seek the support you need.
Alcoholism is a disease and like many other diseases, it is possible to treat and manage it, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Unfortunately, there are a number of myths and stereotypes concerning alcoholism that mean many people do not fully understand what the disease entails. More importantly, these stereotypes often prevent an alcoholic from seeking the help they so desperately need. Educating yourself on alcoholism will not only give you a greater understanding of what your girlfriend is experiencing, it will help you answer her questions when you approach her. You should also find out as much as you can about the treatment available for alcoholics, as well as the recovery process itself.
Open up the lines of communication with your girlfriend by acknowledging her drink problem and making it clear you want to support her. It is important to be persistent with her, as she may deny she has a problem. Many alcoholics either do not realize their drinking has become problematic or are too worried about admitting their problem for fear of being labeled an alcoholic. It is important you show your concern and love for your girlfriend, your moral support will be a comfort to her and will give her the confidence to be honest. Talk to her about what you have researched, including the different treatment options. Make it clear you will support her, in any way you can.
How to Help Others Struggling with Alcohol
Seek Support for Yourself
The Human Management Services Exchange recommend loved ones join a self-help group, such as Al-Non, that are designed specifically for the friends and family of alcoholics. Supporting an alcoholic can be tiring and your girlfriend may have frustrating setbacks throughout her treatment. Having the courage to admit my girlfriend is an alcoholic is the first step towards you accepting your girlfriend’s condition. Meeting up with people experiencing similar things to you will give you the encouragement and confidence to continue supporting your girlfriend.
Don’t Make Excuses
It is important you do not enable your girlfriend to continue drinking. This includes making excuses for her if she has a relapse. Accept that while you can be there to support her, it is down to her to seek and continue treatment. If she does have a relapse, do not cover it up from other loved ones. While you may think you are saving her from embarrassment, you are actually making it easier for her to continue drinking, says the NIAAA.
Encourage her to take up a hobby or new interest; this will take her mind off alcohol and her treatment too. You should also try to spend time with her, in a setting where there is no alcohol available or where she will not be tempted to drink. Going to places where other people are drinking or where drinking alcohol is expected, will only serve to tempt her. Instead, do things together that are fun and alcohol-free.
It is important you accept and understand your girlfriend’s alcoholism, do not be ashamed to admit to yourself and others that my girlfriend drinks too much. Do not treat it like a dirty secret; this will not help her treatment or subsequent recovery. You can look to your own doctor for advice on how to help an alcoholic girlfriend. Not only will he provide you with information on the relevant support groups for both you and your girlfriend, he can advise you on how best to approach her about her drinking.