Research shows that approximately 15.1 million adults over the age of 18 (that’s 6.2 percent of that age group) struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (also known as AUD).
If you have a friend who is part of this group and is getting sober, the best thing you can do for them is to let them know they have your support.
But, how do you make sure your actions line up with your words? What can you do to show them that you really do want to help them?
Listed below are eight ways you can show support to your friend who’s trying to get sober.
1. Avoid Judgment
When it comes to supporting a loved one in recovery, you must do your best to avoid criticizing them or judging their decisions.
Instead of pointing out what they’re doing wrong, show them that you’re proud of their decision by expressing love and praising the positive choices they make.
2. Remove Temptations
Avoid drinking around your friend. If they live with you or visit your home often, you may also want to get rid of any alcohol you do have, or at least keep it out of sight when they’re around.
You may also want to avoid activities in which drinking will be involved. Instead of going to a party or a bar to hang out, suggest other, alcohol-free activities that your friend might enjoy.
3. Encourage Healthy Replacement Activities
Consider taking up a healthy hobby like learning to cook, working out at the gym, or going hiking.
Living a healthy lifestyle can also help people who want to stop drinking alcohol, so encourage them to take up one of these hobbies may end up being doubly helpful.
4. Listen to Them
More than almost anything else, people who are recovering from AUD need to have someone around who can listen to them.
Be an active listener and let them know that you’re available and want to hear all about their victories and challenges.
5. Encourage Them to Seek Additional Support
While you should let them know you’re there to listen, it may also be helpful to encourage your friend to seek outside support. If they attend a support group, they can interact with other alcoholics who are going through the same things they are.
6. Avoid Codependency
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your friend’s problems and become obsessed with helping them stay sober. This is called codependency, and it’s a serious issue that often leads to feelings of blame and guilt.
Try your best to remain objective and give your friend autonomy when it comes to their recovery.
7. Don’t Dwell on the Past
Avoid replaying bad memories or past experiences with your friend. Dwelling on the past, especially negative aspects of the past, isn’t helpful and will likely just make them feel worse.
8. Be Patient
Finally, remember to be patient with your friend.
Recovery is long, difficult, and rarely linear. They will likely make mistakes and relapse.
Don’t give up hope and let them know that you will always support them on their journey.
Learn More about Getting Sober
There are lots of things you can do to help your friend who’s working on getting sober.
If you need more help figuring out what to say and do for your friend, check out the other articles on our site about supporting friends and family who are trying to get sober.
Start with this article about celebrities who have successfully made it through recovery. It’s great to share with friends who are struggling and in need of inspiration.