How to support an addict in alcohol recovery

Successful addiction recovery starts with the user acknowledging that they are dependent on harmful substances – and a strong desire to quit! This is a fundamental step and without it, any long term change is unlikely and there’s high risk of relapse. But once an addict has taken this step and received treatment in an alcohol addiction centre, an important part of their success is having people in their lives that understand the nature of their addiction; who have the ability to support them in a positive way.

Knowing how to support someone who is in alcohol recovery can be difficult. Below you will find some steps you can take that will help both the addict and yourself, emerge through this tough time as positively as possible.

Be there:

At times this will be hard, especially if they are exhibiting negative or needy behaviour.They may become very demanding as they adjust to life without alcohol or other substances, and at times you may want to limit contact. It’s important to remember that whilst they need you to be there for them, it’s your responsibility to create healthy boundaries. If you don’t, the addict in alcohol recovery may challenge you – often subconsciously -, andtest your patience. Let them know that you will be there for them, but you won’t tolerate being treated badly.


A crucial part of alcohol recovery is to talk about problems – both past and present – instead of bottling them up or using alcohol to escape difficult feelings. This process of talking openly and honestly – for many – begins in the addiction treatment centre, where group and 1-2-1 therapy are a core part of the programme. When the addict leaves treatment and continues their alcohol recovery at home, this ability to talk through problems will underpin their ability to remain sober. Again, you will need to set boundaries around your time and what level of disclosure you’re comfortable with. But it’s very important for them to know they have someone who can and will listen to them when they need to talk.

No judgments:

This is often one of the hardest things for a friend or loved one supporting an addict in alcohol recovery. They may disclose things to you or exhibit behavior which you find challenging, and it can be easy to form judgments or negative opinions. Whilst your job is not that of a counselor, you will find it much easier to support someone in alcohol recovery if you are able to suspend your judgments, and simply listen. This does not mean that you have to become a ‘punch bag’ or ‘dumping ground’ for the addict; you have every right to express your frustrations and disappointments, but try to do this in the least judgmental way possible and keep the lines of communication open.

Set boundaries and keep them:

When a loved one has committed to alcohol recovery, it’s not unusual to feel willing to do whatever it takes to support them. However, your willingness will be more beneficial to them if you set, and maintain, strong personal boundaries.

Watching a family member, loved one or friend love fall into alcohol addiction, and witnessing their life deteriorate as they become more and more dependent, is heartbreaking. But the future does not have to be bleak, especially if they decide to get treatment and start the difficult journey of alcohol recovery. The tips above will help you support them in a positive, proactive way.

If you’re concerned about your drinking and think you may need support in a dedicated addiction treatment centre, contact the staff at The Cabin today who will be able to carry out an assessment over the phone.

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