Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about working out and eating well. It’s also about avoiding substances that can take you off your focus, like alcohol. Alcoholism is a chronic disease in which your body becomes dependent on alcohol. When one succumbs to alcoholism, it’s a sign there’s no control over the habit. Specifically, you may not be able to control when you drink, how much you drink, or how long you drink on each occasion. If you have alcoholism, you continue to drink even though you know it’s causing problems with your relationships, health, work, or finances.

Around 1 out of 6 people in the United States have a drinking problem. Those who suffer from peer pressure depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia may have low self-esteem and are most likely to become dependent on alcohol. If you’re not sure whether someone you know and love has an issue with alcohol, there are a few tell tale signs most alcoholics display:

  • Drink alone
  • Become violent when drinking
  • Become hostile when asked about drinking
  • Are not able to control drinking — being unable to stop or reduce alcohol intake
  • Make excuses to drink
  • Miss work or school, or have a decrease in performance because of drinking
  • Need to use alcohol on most days to get through the day
  • Neglect to eat or eat poorly
  • Try to hide alcohol use
  • Memory lapses after heavy drinking
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t had a drink for a while

If you know someone who shows any of the above symptoms, know hope is not lost and they can be helped. Here are three ways to help them kick the habit and get their lives back on track.

Get Them Long Term Support

Alcohol recovery or support programs can help you stop drinking completely by offering counseling and therapy to discuss alcoholism and its effects and how to control thoughts and behaviors. Support can be both inpatient and outpatient and both may provide mental health support and medical care.

Try Medication

Though not always spoken about, there are medications out there to help with alcohol dependency. Medications like Acamprosate and Vivitrol can help decrease alcohol cravings and in some cases provide negative side effects if you drink even a small amount of alcohol within 2 weeks after taking the drug. Consulting with a physician is always recommended to make sure that this is the right step for the individual’s needs.

Support Groups

We may crack jokes about support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but it is definitely no laughing matter when getting help for someone with alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous is a self-help group of recovering alcoholics that offers emotional support and specific steps for people recovering from alcohol dependence. AA offers help 24 hours a day and teaches that it is possible to participate in social functions without drinking. Other support groups include Al-Anon, SMART, and LifeRing.

The most important help you can get for your loved one is your love, support and understanding. Letting them know you are there for them and helping them to create an environment that supports their journey towards sobriety is more of a help to them than you may realize. If you need help dealing with an alcoholic loved one, call the Alcohol/Drug Abuse hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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