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My Girlfriend Struggles with Alcohol. We are in a Long Distance Relationship. How Do I Support Her?

(New Jersey)

My girlfriend, who recently signed up for your emails, told me about your site. We have a long distance relationship (750 miles apart. We were a couple 20 yrs ago and have recently, in the past yr, got together again. We are both divorced.

We love each other immensely. She has a lot of stress in her life and sometimes she really struggles in her decision to make a purchase. I do my best to support her and don't give her any consequences or ultimatums if she stumbles.

I do try to talk her out of making any purchase at all. We have casually drank in the past. We were hoping she could drink casually but I don't think that is an option. I need help helping my love in dire times of need, when she is really struggling.

I know she can overcome and I know it will be difficult at times but with two of us working together, she can do this. I really need some tools to work with her. Please let me know what I need to do to help the love of my life. Thanks.


The best way to help your girlfriend is to encourage her to get help. Overcoming a drinking problem by oneself is exceptionally difficult - so by enlisting the support of others who know and understand what she's going through will help immensely.

If she's prepared to do that - then there is everything from in-patient to out-patient treatment programs, 12-step recovery programs like AA, and various alternatives. Professional help is available if she's willing.

If however she's totally against that and wants to try and beat alcohol by herself - she needs to understand that having an addiction like alcoholism requires drastic transformation on a spiritual, mental, emotional and behavioral level. So it requires that she gets brutally honest with herself about her problem - and then finds effective ways to address those areas.

Some turn to religion, others more spiritual type practices like meditation and yoga to help address the spiritual need, but which also help to change the tendency to engage in self-destructive behaviors like excessive drinking. Reading inspiring and personal growth type books help one to learn to think differently, living more healthily and getting exercise helps one to detox and feel better. Surrounding oneself with a strong and supportive group of people is invaluable.

So it's a process that starts with the decision to quit drinking - and boils down to doing the things that create change. Your role then is to encourage her to do these things and help her believe she can do it, even when she's feeling lousy and doesn't feel up to it.

The fact that your girlfriend is open to change and seems to want to quit is a great starting point. First prize would be to encourage her to get professional help, because trying to do it alone can be a scary and lonely place. There is no shame and nothing wrong in admitting to a problem with alcohol today and getting the appropriate help.

But there are those that do manage going it alone because they consciously work at changing those self-destructive mental, emotional and behavioural tendencies that lead to things like addiction.

As much as you can support and encourage your girlfriend - you also have to accept you can't control the choices she makes. Only she can overcome her alcohol problem, but with your support and encouragement hopefully it will be a little easier for her.

Feel free to also take a look at getting Addiction Uncovered because it gives a lot more detail there as to the steps that need to be followed to quit drinking successfully. Whatever you decide though, the main thing is to help her break things down into small manageable action steps - and then simply focus on taking it one step at a time. You'll be amazed at the change that happens as a result.

Take Care and Best of Luck to you both.

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