Because drinking is so socially acceptable in American society, it can be hard to draw the line between acceptable and risky behavior. This is even more of an issue when it comes to someone who you don’t see all the time. Even if you’re with the person a lot, they may be hiding irresponsible drinking from you.
If you’re concerned that a friend or loved one may be an alcoholic, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction (NIAAA), there were an estimated 15.1 million U.S. adults struggling with alcoholism in 2015, and less than 7 percent were getting treatment for it. That means that millions of people, including thousands in South Carolina, are living with alcohol use disorders without recognition or proper treatment.
This number equates to countless family members, friends, and other loved ones living with constant worry about a potential addict’s well-being. If you think someone close to you may be an alcoholic, there are legal and therapeutic resources available to you.
Is Your Loved One an Alcoholic?
Alcoholism isn’t defined by the number of drinks a person has in one session or the number of days of the week they consume alcoholic beverages, but these can be warning signs. Alcoholism is a form of addiction where a person has a compulsive need to drink alcohol to function normally. When an alcoholic isn’t drinking, they go through withdrawal symptoms, which can vary.
Signs of Alcoholism
Because there’s no line that separates alcohol dependency and problem drinking from alcoholism, it’s difficult to know whether someone close to you is suffering from this condition. Here are a few signs that a friend or loved one may be an alcoholic:
- They make decisions daily that are motivated by alcohol
- They spend most of their day sick, hungover, or drinking
- They lie or steal to support their drinking habit
- They have periods where they lose memory of events that occurred
- They stop drinking and feel sick, shaky, feverish, or experience any of the other symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol
Alcoholics may exhibit risky behavior to maintain their habits. For example, while these products are marketed for this purpose, DUI Checkpoint Finder apps are commonly used by alcoholics to sustain their practice of drinking and driving.
How to Help a Loved One with Alcoholism
There a few common ways to get a loved one with alcoholism the help they need. The issue is that each person is different and not everyone will be able to admit that they need help and follow through with effective treatment. Here are a few things you can do to support an addict close to you:
Help Them Stop Risky Behaviors
Alcoholics are prone to behaviors that carry potential risks, like irresponsible sexual behavior, crime, and the health risks that come with excessive alcohol consumption (liver failure and alcohol poisoning, for example).
Sit down with them and explain that you’re worried about your friend or loved one’s behavior, including how it affects you and others close to the person.
One of the most common risky behaviors is driving under the influence. Alcoholics make up a large part of a group of people referred to as “repeat offenders” of DUI, because their addiction starts to control their lives and affect their decisions.
Help them with Legal Issues
Often, alcoholism leads a person to get in trouble with the law. Many local and state laws list a variety of offenses that have to do with or are commonly a result of heavy alcohol consumption, for example:
- Public Disorderly Conduct (drunk and disorderly)
- Public intoxication
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
- DWI (Driving While Impaired)
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Open container
SC has regulations about who, when, where, how, and with whom a person is allowed to consume alcohol. An alcohol-dependant person who needs to drink regularly to function or feel well is almost inevitably going to violate one or all of these rules due to their condition.
The best thing you can do is find your loved one legal help, an attorney who can help with alcohol offenses and make sure minor violations don’t cause a severe impact on your loved one’s life.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
The most effective way to help a friend, family member or other loved one when they’re addicted to alcohol is to convince them to commit to high-quality treatment before the ramifications of their actions start to pile up. Those struggling with alcoholism face health risks and legal problems, and the best thing you can do to be there and help is to show them the value of professional treatment.
You can use a variety of resources, both to show your loved one that they need help and also to find qualified help in your area.
Resources for Alcoholics
There are many resources that can help both you and your addicted loved one get on the right track towards recovery:
- Alcohol Addiction Center: AAC provides practical resources, both for addicts and those closest to them. From information about the risks associated with alcoholism to help finding high-quality treatment centers across the country, AAC may help when you’re looking for the first step towards wellness in the life of someone close to you.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The CDC has useful resources relating to treatment and epidemiology, as well as a directory of public programs and federal agencies that may be able to be used to improve your loved one’s condition.
- Rethinking Your Drinking: This resource, provided by the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), is a guide intended to be used by those with drinking problems and their loved ones with information on the real impact of their risky behaviors.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): These free meetings are held several times a day at various locations.
Charleston County has many helpful resources and services that are at your disposal if you are local to this area.
Why It’s Important to Provide Positive Input
When your friend or loved one is suffering from alcoholism, it can be difficult to stand by them. You may not agree with the choices they make, but by connecting them with helpful resources, like access to treatment and legal help, you can help them recover before their situation gets even worse.
She has handled hundreds of alcohol related cases. She has attended numerous Continuing Legal Education hours on alcohol related offenses. She is a member of the DUI Defense Lawyers of America (DUIDLA). In 2018, she was selected to teach a Continuing Legal Education class on the DUI Field Sobriety Tests that included NC and SC lawyers. She volunteered to participate in training law enforcement on the Field Sobriety Tests wet labs. Additionally, Susan employs a retired Summerville Police Officer as a team member of the Law Office of Susan E. Williams.
If you or someone close to you needs legal help due to their alcoholism, contact Susan Williams.