How Can Christians Help Alcoholics?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What can you, a believer, do to help someone struggling with alcohol? What’s the Christian’s approach in such cases?

Unconditional Love

When Jesus came to die for sinners, He didn’t wait until we “cleaned up” our lives. He saved us even while we were ungodly, wicked sinners who were God’s enemies (Rom 5:6-10), so who dies for an enemy? God does, in Jesus Christ. So many people I speak with cannot get over their own sins and they keep tripping over what’s behind them, so I ask them, “How many of your sins were ahead of you at the cross?” Obviously, all of them. We hadn’t even been born when Jesus died for our sins, so for those who have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ, they must recognize that God’s love and forgiveness is unconditional once they’ve trusted in Christ. It’s not a matter of performance, but a matter of what Christ has done at Calvary. If we recognize that our sins are great, God’s grace is greater still, so if we abandon our brother and sister in their time of need, such as during their battle with alcoholism, we are not really their friend, and we are not showing the love of God.

Clear Boundaries

God loves us but loves us enough to discipline us, so sometimes it takes “tough love” to ensure we stay on track. The Bible says “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:11). When we see a brother or sister struggling with alcoholism, or any other substance abuse, we must not ignore it. What if it were us that needed help? Of course, it won’t be easy, because the Bible says that even the discipline of the Lord seems painful, but it bears the “fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” One of the most loving things we can do as believers is to correct a fellow believer, but most people don’t want to get involved because the person can strike back, but it’s not as if we are living the Christian life as a solo act.   We need one another, and more so as the day of the Lord’s return nears (Heb 10:24-25), so how do you approach a brother or sister who is battling the stronghold of alcohol? I would say we approach them privately but also very lovingly, and out of a deep concern for their spiritual welfare. If we approach them in a judgmental or condemning way, this might do more harm than good, and they might refuse anyone’s help. When God saved us, He didn’t save us to be by ourselves but to come alongside other believers who are struggling with life issues.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Those who suffer from alcoholism may find it difficult to locate support, and someone who has issues with alcohol should never have to deal with the problem alone. Thankfully, there is Alcoholics Anonymous. The idea “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic” may be true in the sense of those who have overcome this scourge may still be susceptible to falling again, but it’s not true that they cannot overcome. Jesus said He overcame the world (John 16:33), so it is possible for us and them to be overcomers, however, it’s never done in isolation. If someone stops attending our church, I check on them to see if they’re okay, but I don’t say, “Hey, where have you been?” Instead, I ask, “How are you? We missed you…are you doing okay?” The one thing they don’t need is guilt on top of guilt. If we don’t reach out to help them, who will? Remember, what we do to the least of the brothers and sisters, we do for Christ (Matt 25:40), so like Samuel, we can say, or at least should say, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way” (1st Sam 12:23). Again, if we turn the tables, would you not want someone praying for you if you were in their situation? Would you want others to condemn you and make you feel even more hopeless? Some of the greatest people in the world accomplished great things in their life after overcoming alcoholism. For believers, we have hope, and we have the hope that we can do all things through Jesus Christ Who will strengthen us (Phil 4:13), and by the Apostle Paul saying, “all things,” this certainly includes alcoholism. Jesus also said we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5), and nothing is not a little something…it is nothing.

Professional Help

I love what Alcoholics Anonymous stands for, and even though it’s not strictly a faith-based recovery program, they do acknowledge that we need some outside support and help, so this allows God to enter the picture and gives them the hope of God, the hope of His power through His Spirit, the hope of the prayers of fellow alcoholics, and the prayers of the saints (including ours!), but after a person recovers, there is still more to do. For example, if we are calling a person a “recovering” addict or alcoholic, this implies that he or she is still actively overcoming the lingering problems of an addictive lifestyle. For some who have overcome this stronghold, there may remain some deep-seated attitudes that keep an addict locked in his addiction. These may include pride, rebellion against authority, dishonesty, manipulation, blame-shifting, resentments, and procrastination, but while these “character defects” are common problems with practically all addicts, continuing to label them as alcoholics may lead to them falling back into it again, making them feel like helpless victims of what is wrongly a “disease.” By the way, we cannot judge AA just because they’ve removed much of the “Christian” language in their 12 Step program because they still encourage people to get spiritual instruction and fellowship from the Church and other organized religious bodies outside of itself, so that is to their credit.


The next time you see someone battling with alcoholism or some other addiction, either illegal substances or even prescriptions, remember that they are battling something that they cannot overcome alone. We need to come alongside them as accountability partners and we must include them in our plans to make them feel part of the Christian community. The truth is, we all struggle with our own addictions and lust-based sins. It is by the grace of God that we ourselves are not in their shoes, so it’s up to us to pray for them, encourage them, and help them in any way we can, but without them taking advantage of us. There is a fine line between helping them and stripping all hope away.

Take a look at this related article: Where Should a Christian Addicted to Drugs Turn?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

gary elliott November 12, 2017 at 9:18 pm

i feel the pain of discipline and i thank you for this faith based website. it helped me understand what AA stands for, thank you again.


Jack Wellman November 12, 2017 at 9:23 pm

Thank you Mr. Elliott. I am glad it could help you sir. I will pray for you right now.


david Prague January 10, 2018 at 5:38 pm

Thank you Jack, actually there is a 12 step programme based 100% on biblical teaching. Blessings.


Jack Wellman January 10, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Yes….very good suggestion sir. Thank you.


Qondani Sithole March 6, 2019 at 8:24 pm

I am grateful to your article.I am mother with an alcoholic son and was at the verge of giving up


Jack Wellman March 6, 2019 at 8:47 pm

Hello my friend, I am so sorry for the pain you must feel. I am praying now for you and your son. God does not give up on us and amother’s love never does either. God bless you ma’am.


Jason Martel February 18, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Thank you Jack for writing such a great article. As a born-again Christian, who has had struggles with alcoholism in the past, it’s refreshing to hear another believer, like yourself, speak about AA in a more positive way than most churches do, if at all. It is through AA, that I came to know God even deeper, and discovered my mission field and my true calling; which is to help others who have had their lives destroyed because of their addictions, come into a true relationship with the one true and loving God, through His son Jesus Christ. God is so good! Thanks again,


Jack Wellman February 18, 2020 at 3:51 pm

Hello Mr. Martel and thank you for the encouragment sir. Amen to what you wrote, as AA sent you into the mission field to do unto others (Matt 25:35-36) as unto Him (Mat 25:40).


Di Adendorff May 16, 2020 at 2:43 pm

I surprised you recommended AA.
This organization was spawned by the devil. Bill Wilson, the founder who was into the occult practice of ouji board and had seances with the devil got the 12 steps of AA from the devil. I can furnish more information if you so wish.
Only God can set the captives free by the new birth in Christ.


Jack Wellman May 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm

I researched Mr. Wilson and not one word of what you wrote about this man was true. AA sprang from The Oxford Group as a non-denominational movement modeled after first-century Christianity, so yes, only Christ can set us free, we must help one another when we can as AA was established with Christian principles, not that from a Ouija board, which I think you meant but you misspelled it apparently, but no historical evidence suggests that Bill Wilson, found of AA was also founder of the occult practice of Ouija board, so you are totally wrong and whoever told you this lie must be confronted. Businessman Elijah Bond had the idea to patent a planchette sold with a board on which the alphabet was printed, much like the previously existing talking boards. Bond filed on May 28, 1890 for patent protection and thus is credited with the invention of the Ouija board. Issue date on the patent was February 10, 1891. He received U.S. Patent 446,054. Bond was an attorney and was an inventor of other objects in addition to this device. Please get your facts straight and making libelous statements about Mr. Wilson, the founder of AA.


Dave Matthews October 27, 2021 at 11:14 am

Your article is helpful, and geared towards how a Christian can help another Christian with an addiction. Can you speak to a situation where how a Christian can help an unbeliever with their addiction, especially in view of the addicted person having no interest in hearing about Jesus and how He can set them free.


Jack Wellman October 27, 2021 at 12:39 pm

Hello Mr. Matthews and thank you for such a good question. Only God the Holy Spirit can help us overcome. Until a person puts their trust in Christ, they have no resource from God to help except from godly men who care like you who can pray for them to be saved. Until they recieve the Holy Spirit, they cannot see a need to overcome their addictions so pray and ask others to pray evne if the person’s name is kept private. You have obviously shared Christ with Him and done all you can (including pray) so let God do what only God can do and please read this to help us understand how God works and how He can use us as a means to save some:


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