Knowing how to help your alcoholic loved one can be difficult, especially when alcohol consumption–even to excess–is still relatively nationwide accepted.
Since alcohol is legally available to individuals of appropriate age, many underestimate the risks involved with enjoying alcohol. Although the majority of people who sometimes drink alcohol don’t develop problematic drinking behavior, the percentage of individuals losing control of their alcohol consumption has continued to rise.
Currently, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence estimates that approximately 1 in every 12 Americans is suffering from alcoholism; while that may not sound like very much, there’s considerably more individuals who exhibit problematic drinking behavior, including binge-drinking, on a regular basis, which is effectively the precursor to the development of alcoholism.
For the loved ones of alcoholics, it can be an incredibly difficult and emotional experience to watch someone continue to deteriorate due to the habitual abuse of alcohol. Many good, honest people with lots of potential have hit rock bottom as a direct result of their drinking. Living in active alcoholism can result in a number of hardships, including destroying marriages and relationships, losing one’s children or family, losing jobs and other opportunities, falling into financial ruin, and many catastrophic effects on one’s health.
While many alcoholics’ loved ones might feel helpless as they watch such a downward spiral firsthand, there are actually several things that the family members, friends, and other loved ones of alcoholics can do to help individuals suffering from an alcohol dependency. As such, the following are five tips and pieces of advice that may encourage an alcoholic to seek treatment and facilitate the beginning of the healing process at a family level.
Set Rules, Boundaries, and Expectations
Many individuals who have developed an alcohol problem don’t necessarily realize that their drinking is the source of their increasing hardships. If an alcoholic loved one wakes in the morning feeling ill from the previous day’s drinking and miss work, they might begin drinking alcohol and explain that the alcohol helps with the stress from missing work.
Unfortunately, in such an instance the alcoholic is unable to reconcile that missing work was actually caused by something the individual consider to be a means of alleviating stress, illustrating the warped, distorted thinking that comes with being in active alcoholism and addiction.
When dealing with a loved one who is exhibiting the behaviors of an alcoholic loved one, it’s important to set rules and boundaries so that they are aware of what’s expected and knows what is or isn’t acceptable behavior. For instance, if it becomes a rule that alcohol can’t be consumed until a certain time in the day, the individual will have to confront the fact that they might not be able to wait until the time of day when drinking alcohol becomes an acceptable behavior.
Setting reasonable boundaries and expectations will help the addict to realize when and how the individual is crossing them.
Learn About Alcoholism and Recovery
Another important step—and arguably the most beneficial—is to learn as much about alcoholism and recovery from alcoholism as possible. Gaining this knowledge is important for a number of reasons, such as to develop a stronger sense of empathy and a better understanding of the addict’s suffering, being able to better identify signs of alcoholism and other problematic behaviors, and also having a more thorough knowledge of the recovery process.
It’s also good to have a thorough understanding of alcoholism because it allows individuals to be better equipped to deal with many of the situations that might occur.
Find and Attend Support Groups for Loved Ones of Alcoholics
Similar to the support groups that are available for alcoholics and drug addicts, there are a number of support groups that are intended specifically for the family members, friends, and other loved ones, including Al-Anon and Nar-Anon. These support groups for the loved ones of alcoholics and addicts are a very underrated resource.
At these meetings, an alcoholic’s loved ones will meet and hear stories from other individuals who have been affected by someone suffering from addiction. Many of the stories one hears at these meetings will be familiar, allowing an addict’s loved ones to gain insight by considering familiar situations from different perspectives.
In many cases, individuals might get advice for how to deal with a loved one’s alcoholism, including how to encourage him or her to seek treatment or how to help the individual accept the reality of their drinking problem.
Don’t Protect Your Alcoholic Loved One from Consequences
Family members, friends, and other intimate relations offer an individual unconditional love, even when they’re behaving poorly due to their alcoholism. However, codependency is very common in families and occurs when an alcoholic’s or addict’s loved one enables the substance abuse behavior due to fear of being rejected or abandoned by the alcoholic or addict.
Part of this enabling usually entails shielding the alcoholic or addict from the consequences of their substance abuse by trying to keep the individual out of legal trouble or offering the individual money whenever it’s needed. But protecting the substance abuser from the consequences of their actions will prolong the individual’s addiction as it’s often the consequences of addiction that motivate individuals to seek treatment.
Find Intervention and Treatment Options
If an alcoholic loved one continues to deny or minimize their problematic drinking behavior, it may be time to stage an intervention and begin finding treatment options for the individuals. An intervention is a non-aggressive confrontation during which an alcoholic’s or addict’s loved ones share their feelings with the individual while also recounting some of the effects that they have experienced as a result of the individual’s alcohol abuse.
Interventions are often very emotional and have a high rate of success in encouraging alcoholics and addicts to receive treatment, which is why it’s also a good idea to looking into and gather treatment options for the individual.
When looking for treatment options, consider the individual’s specific needs and preferences, including whether it would be better for him or her to recover while close to home or at some distance, whether the individual would benefit from holistic or alternative therapies, and so on.
Need Addiction Treatment? Call Us Now
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to force an alcoholic loved one or addict into treatment. It’s a very big step to admit one’s substance abuse problem and choose to seek treatment, which is why it’s beneficial for an individual to make the decision freely rather than through coercion.
To learn more about intervention, treatment, or other aspects of alcoholism and addiction recovery, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070. Our recovery team is on call at all times, available for free consultations and assessments. If you or a loved one have been suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, call Drug Treatment Center Finder today and let the journey of recovery begin.