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How to Help an Alcoholic With TB

by John Zaremba
  • Overview

    Alcoholism leaves a person at a higher risk of developing tuberculosis, a dangerous infection that damages the lungs and can spread throughout the body. This direct effect on a person's health underscores that person's need to get medical help. Though no one wants a loved one to come down with such a serious illness, the presence of tuberculosis in an alcoholic can help the person's loved ones make a persuasive case for treatment.
  • Intervention

  • Step 1

    Know the signs of each disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of alcoholism include keeping secret stashes of alcohol, drinking in secret, acting annoyed when alcohol is not available, and consuming strong drinks quickly to feel the alcohol's effects. Signs of tuberculosis include weight loss, exhaustion, night sweats, chronic coughing, and coughing up blood.
  • Step 2

    List ways that the person's drinking has led to destructive actions and consequences. Use anecdotes and illustrate how the drinking has affected you and how it has changed the person. If the person has already been diagnosed with tuberculosis, reiterate that alcohol abuse can lead to the disease (the person's doctor may already have brought this up).
  • Step 3

    Arrange treatment. Successful interventions conclude by giving the addict a choice to enter a prearranged treatment program. To find a program, the Mayo Clinic advises asking a trusted doctor or mental health specialist, or contacting a national alcohol abuse organization.
  • Step 4

    Pack a suitcase for your loved one if the treatment program requires travel.
  • Step 5

    Practice and plan the intervention. Decide when you'll do it (pick a time when the person is least likely to be under the influence), when everyone will talk and where everyone will sit. Determine the consequences; everyone at the intervention must say what he or she will do if the person refuses treatment.
  • Step 6

    Conduct the intervention. Using your list, tell the person about the effects the drinking has had on your mental health and his, and how it has deteriorated his physical health. Reiterate that alcohol abuse causes tuberculosis and that the disease causes lung damage, severe pain, and meningitis if it goes untreated.
  • Step 7

    Ask for an immediate decision. According to the Mayo Clinic, allowing the person time to decide can result in further denial or even a dangerous drinking binge.
  • Long-Term Treatment

    • Step 1

      Realize the risk of relapse. Alcoholism and tuberculosis are similar in that there are no quick treatments, and that both diseases carry a serious risk of relapse.
    • Step 2

      Enroll in self-help. The Mayo Clinic recommends Alcoholics Anonymous for alcoholics and the complementary groups Al-Anon and Alateen for family members.
    • Step 3

      Participate in the person's treatment. If the treatment for alcoholism includes counseling, offer to attend sessions.
    • Step 4

      Enroll the person in directly observed therapy. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is an effective way of ensuring that a person takes the complete course of medicinal treatment (some people with TB stop treatment as soon as they feel better, which can cause the disease to come back stronger). Directly observed therapy is administered in the presence of a doctor or nurse.
    • 5

    References & Resources