How your loved one responds to alcohol withdrawal is completely dependant on how long they have been addicted to alcohol and how bad the addiction has become. No matter what, the process of detoxification is very difficult and many people become discouraged and ready to give in and start drinking again. With your support, it is possible to help them through it and get them onto the sound road of recovery. Below are a few ways you can help your loved one as they go through alcohol withdrawal.
1.) Push electrolytes as much as possible
When your family member starts to go through withdrawal they can start to get nauseous and vomit often throughout the process meaning that dehydration is a very real danger. You can help them by giving them water, but especially pushing drinks like Gatorade or waters with electrolytes added in as it will help them combat dehydration and can even help keep nausea and vomiting at bay.
2.) Don’t leave them alone
As their family member, it is your job to be there as a support system to offer them encouragement and help during the rough process. The more support and encouragement you are able to give them in person, the easier it is for your family member to get through the detoxification process.
If you have a loved one or family member who has been diagnosed with alcoholism and has decided to go through either inpatient rehabilitation or to get sober at home on their own will, the biggest thing that will help them be successful is your love, encouragement, and support. As they start to get sober, they are going to go through a period of alcohol withdrawal. This stage of the process is normal and can range anywhere from being just slightly uncomfortable to being downright miserable for the patient.
Your presence will also hold them accountable so that they do not give in to the pressure of wanting to quit when it gets physically and mentally daunting. Your physical presence could be what gets them through the daunting withdrawal symptoms.
3.) Help them get through the cravings
Alcoholics are going to crave alcohol as their body goes through withdrawal. As they get it all out of their system, they are going to want to give in and have “just a sip” multiple times over. These cravings could be small and just minor thoughts they can forget about, or they may be intense cravings that they think they cannot get through. Either way, it is important to help them put their cravings into perspective.
Instead of telling them to fight the craving or not think of it, tell them to fully embrace it. To know that it is going to come, it is going to build up, but it will eventually crash and subside. Also, remember that they may have cravings one right after another or they could get through one and go for several minutes or even hours before another one hits. Your job is to help them embrace the craving and know that it is going to subside and not stay; they just have to visualize riding it out.
4.) Help them write a letter before the process begins
Before they even make the physical leap to start getting sober and go through the withdrawal process, sit down with your family member and help them write a letter to themselves and put it in a place where it can be easily accessed when they do start the process. In the letter tell them to write down why they are doing this, who they are getting sober for, their hopes and dreams they wish to accomplish once they are sober.
Then, when the process starts and they feel tempted to give up, bring the letter out and read it out loud to them. Studies show that reading what they personally wrote back to them helps them retain pertinent information and get through the process.
5.) Have a first aid kid nearby
Your family member will more than likely not feel like, nor be able to, get out of the bed as they are going through withdrawal. Before the process begins, make them a first aid kit and put it in a place that can be easily reached near their bed. Put things like nausea medications, medications to help control head and body aches like Tylenol, as well as important pictures or other tokens that are meaningful to them. These small things that you can easily get out and show to them will help remind them why they started this journey to get sober in the first place and can help keep them grounded and determined to become sober.
Going through the withdrawal process with someone you love is not an easy task, and it can mentally and physically wear out everyone who is involved in the process. Following these tips can help you get through it possibly a little easier and ensure the success of your family member not relapsing.
Though it is important to be there for them, also remember that it is vital to take care of yourself as well so you do not burn out mentally and physically during the process. Sobriety is possible, and your loved one can do it with your help!