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How Do You Help an Alcoholic Friend or Family Member?

Last updated: Wednesday, 30, September 2020

Do you have a friend or a family member in your life who is an alcoholic? Are you worried that you might be an enabler? Do you know if you enable your alcoholic or not? Luckily, there are ways to tell if one is an enabler or not, and if so, there are ways to address the manifestation of enabling in a person.

First of all, what is enabling? Explained simply, the act of enabling is any act or action that in any way contributes to an alcoholic’s ability to continue to abuse drugs and alcohol. It is taking a conscious action that aids a person’s survival to a degree that it further enables them to abuse drugs and alcohol. Here are some examples of enabling. A lot of these are activities and actions that one might not consider to be enabling but, in reality, they most definitely are enabling:

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  • Giving alcoholic money. No matter what they say the money is for or what they need cash for, you never give addict money, no matter what. If you do it will end badly, and they will ultimately use the money to buy more alcohol.
  • Giving an alcoholic food. Giving an alcoholic food, even if they are starving and they are your son, daughter, or family member, is enabling them. What you are effectively doing is that you are giving them a good meal and taking their mind off of their hunger in such a way that they can focus on getting a drink.
  • Giving an alcoholic a place to stay. Addicts need to experience a tough life. They need to experience true hardship because this is what will cause them to hit rock bottom and decide that it is time to quit abusing substances and that it is time to go to rehab. Giving an addict a place to stay effectively makes it so that they do not hit that rock bottom, gives them comfort in their lives, and gives them a warm bed to sleep in and a good night’s rest so the next morning they can get up and go look for alcohol.
  • Helping an alcoholic in any way that is not directly conducive to getting them into a treatment center. Realistically, the only help that you can give an alcoholic is help that will get them into rehab. The only help that is of any real value for an alcoholic is help that gets them into a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center and recovery organization. That is all.


Marcel Gemme, DATS - Author

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.