How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

Do you know a family member who is suffering from alcoholism issues? It must hurt to see him drink himself to oblivion. But you are not as powerless as he is. You can do something. Help your loved one tread the road to recovery with these tips on how to help an alcoholic family member. 

1. Don’t have alcohol when he’s around.

Your kin might be trying to abstain alcohol – but he might have particularly low will power. Self-control is a problem among alcoholics after all since liquor reduces brain signals that tell the person when he’s making a mistake. With that being said, doing simple things such as not drinking – or not having alcohol in reunions – are essential, as these can help him tread the baby steps towards recovery. 

2. Learn more about alcoholism.

Before you attempt to help your family member, the first thing that you need to do is to know more about alcoholism. Learn more about the signs and symptoms, and how your relative fits the bill. 

A great thing about educating yourself is that you can easily do so online. There are many comprehensive resource websites, such as that of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Apart from increasing your knowledge, these websites can provide you with other resources (support group, treatment centers, etc.) that can help you in dealing with your relative. 

3. Talk to her.

It is not easy to talk to someone with alcoholism problems because more often than not, they consider themselves as mere social drinkers and ‘not alcoholics.’ What you can do, however, is to talk to him about an adverse event that has occurred because of his drinking problem. Did he berate you after a drinking spree? Start the conversation with this fact, and explain how his alcohol-laced outbursts affect you emotionally (maybe even physically.) Use clear, simple terms to help drive the message home. 

4. Show compassion when expressing your concern.

It is frustrating to talk to an alcoholic who thinks his problems are not that dire. But whenever you find yourself on the brink of annoyance, calm down, take a deep breath, and approach the issue with compassion. What if you were in his shoes? 

Such an approach is supported in the study entitled “What Should We Say?,” which was printed in the Journal of Medical Ethics. The authors go on to explain that when someone close to the person suffers an injury or serious illness (such as alcoholism,) a duty of beneficence requires the person (in this case, the relative) to dispense good words or actions. 

In summation, you should choose the words and how you speak wisely. Note that what you say and the manner you say it can have profound effects. Compassionate communication might just be the nudge he needs towards complete recovery. 

5. Set boundaries. 

A boundary is defined as a dividing line between two people as it shows one’s separate needs. This usually does not exist in a relationship with an alcoholic. More often than not, the relative takes the role of codependent, and a dysfunctional relationship ensues. You might think that codependency is helping your kin – when in fact, what it does is the opposite. With that being said, setting boundaries is one of the best ways on how to help an alcoholic family member. 

For example, he might ask you money for food – but you know he just uses this money to buy more alcohol. Try to offer the better alternative of giving him actual food. If he insists on the money, then shun him. Remember: You are not obliged to support his lifestyle. Set your foot down. Tough love is tough, but it often works. 

6. Help the person find the treatment that suits his condition.

Maybe your kin is ashamed about having to find some form of rehab treatment – or maybe he’s always wasted to do so. This is one of the most vital times for you to step in. You can help him find the treatment that best suits his situation. 

As it has been mentioned, the web boasts of a wealth of information regarding rehabilitation – from support groups to medically-supervised detox. He might choose the easiest (and most probably ineffective) way out, but as long as you’re there to assist him, you can convince him to take the best program for his condition. 

7. Acknowledge the fact that without professional help, he might not be able to recover. 

According to the study “Advances in Alcohol Treatment,” it has been surmised that no single treatment approach is effective for everyone with alcohol dependence. While support groups are more than beneficial, the assistance of addiction professionals is unmatched. They can help improve outcomes by carefully assigning the best treatments based on the patient’s specific needs and characteristics. 

8. Offer other forms of assistance. 

Alcoholics can’t do it alone – if they did, then there wouldn’t be any problem drinkers in the world. As a concerned relative, what you need to do is offer simple forms of assistance, such as taking him to the treatment center. Attend family therapies with him. Being there for him when he needs you the most can work wonders on his psyche.

9. Accept the fact that recovery might be a slow process. 

Alcohol recovery is no breezy walk in the park – it can last anywhere from a month to several years. The best way how to help an alcoholic family member is to accept the pace that your relative undertakes, no matter how painfully drawn-out it might be. Slowly but surely, as they say. 

Alcoholism has grave consequences that affect a lot of families. It can destroy relationships -and even destroy lives. This need not be the case for your clan, though. You can do your part! With these tips on how to help an alcoholic family member, you can help your kin find his way to eventual recovery. 

Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)

4 thoughts on “How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

What do you think? Please share your thoughts.