Ways to Help a Chronic Alcoholic

A new study about chronic alcoholism to be published in the December edition of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research introduces a type of alcohol-related brain damage not yet commonly known. Thanks to advances in neuroimaging technology, research shows the damage that chronic alcoholism does to the frontal and temporal lobes, the parts of the brain that are responsible for controlling problem drinking, in a series of stages rather than all at once. Evidently a greater alcohol consumption equals greater brain damage in these areas.

The results may be underscore the difficulty for a chronic alcoholic to avoid alcohol or remain in recovery. Yet evidence also suggests that brain tissue may recover to some degree with a period of abstinence. Despite this promising aspect, anyone who intends to help an individual with chronic alcoholism must be prepared for the long and arduous process ahead. When better equipped, a non-professional can provide a valuable assistance on the road to sobriety.

1. Recognize the problem and its limitations. The chronic alcoholic is compelled to drink and no longer feels it is a choice. Accept this fact and the consequences (e.g., loss of job, financial crisis, relationship issues, etc.) that have come from the chronic drinking. Remember a diminished mental capacity due to chronic drinking may result in changes in personality and behavior.

2. Offer unconditional support. Due to his or her reduced cognitive abilities, a Chronic Alcoholic may not see the benefits of sobriety. Be reliable and consistent in your support without being judgmental. Schedule time together for positive experiences, even in short, structured windows of time, so every contact with him or her is not related to handling a crisis in the midst of or following a period of heavy drinking.

3. Document the challenges. Put the experiences in writing for yourself and the individual. Reflect openly on the impact that his or her chronic drinking has had on himself or herself as well as other people. Plan a time to share these challenges with him or her, ideally when not addressing another alcohol-related issue.

4. Schedule a time to consider resources. Make a list of what attempts the individual has made to respond to a drinking problem. These could be doctors visits, 12 Step programs, outpatient clinics or short-term rehabilitation centers. Once this list is compiled, research what resources are available locally, regionally or anywhere in the nation that potentially provide a long-term solutions. Prepare 30 seconds of commentary on each location, and remember you need not try to appeal to a sense of logic. Find features to discuss that are outside of the services realm, such as a facility’s geographical location or something unique.

5. Accompany him or her to a long-term rehabilitation facility. Responding effectively to chronic alcoholism is a key part of the services provided by long term drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities, such as Burning Tree in Texas. Addiction specialists here treat chronic alcoholics from all 50 states with a program designed to meet the needs of each and every person. Your facilitating the initial contact with Burning Tree can be followed by accompanying your friend of loved one to the facility. This transition from a one-member support system to a team of addiction specialists can be a smooth and seamless one.

Burning Tree operates two long-term drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in Texas near Dallas and Austin. Admissions representatives can be reached for information and additional resources at 866-287-2877. More information about responding to the needs of a Chronic Alcoholic may be found online at www.burningtree.com.


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