Published on January 26th, 2015 | by Dave2
Helping a loved one with alcoholism or alcohol abuse
If someone you love has a drinking problem, you may be struggling with a number of painful emotions, including shame, fear, anger, and self-blame. The problem may be so overwhelming that it seems easier to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong. But in the long run denying it will be more damaging to you, other family members, and the person with the drinking problem.
What Not To Do
- Don’t attempt to punish, threaten, bribe, or preach.
- Don’t try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink or use other drugs.
- Don’t cover up or make excuses for the alcoholic or problem drinker or shield them from the realistic consequences of their behavior.
- Don’t take over their responsibilities, leaving them with no sense of importance or dignity.
- Don’t hide or dump bottles, throw out drugs, or shelter them from situations where alcohol is present.
- Don’t argue with the person when they are impaired.
- Don’t try to drink along with the problem drinker.
- Above all, don’t feel guilty or responsible for another’s behavior.
Adapted from: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information
Dealing with a loved one’s alcohol problem can be an emotional rollercoaster. It’s vital that you take care of yourself and get the support you need. It’s also important to have people you can talk honestly and openly with about what you’re going through.
A good place to start is by joining a group such as Al-Anon, a free peer support group for families coping with alcoholism. Listening to others with the same challenges can be a tremendous source of comfort and support. You can also turn to trusted friends, a therapist, or people in your faith community.
- You cannot force someone you love to stop abusing alcohol. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is to watch, you cannot make someone stop drinking. The choice is up to them.
- Don’t expect the person to stop drinking and stay sober without help. Your loved one will need treatment, support, and new coping skills to overcome a serious drinking problem.
- Recovery is an ongoing process. Recovery is a bumpy road, requiring time and patience. An alcoholic will not magically become a different happy wheels demo person once sober. And the problems that led to the alcohol abuse in the first place will have to be faced.
Admitting that there’s a serious problem can be painful for the whole family, not just the alcohol abuser. But don’t be ashamed. You’re not alone. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse affects millions of families, from every social class, race, and culture. But there is help and support available for both you and your loved one.
When your teen has a drinking problem
Discovering your child is drinking can generate fear, confusion, and anger in parents. It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober. Explain your concerns and make it clear that your concern comes from a place of love. It’s important that your teen feels you are supportive.
Five steps parents can take:
- Lay down rules and consequences: Your teen should understand that drinking alcohol comes with specific consequences. But don’t make hollow threats or set rules that you cannot enforce. Make sure your spouse agrees with the rules and is prepared to enforce them.
- Monitor your teen’s activity: Know where your teen goes and who he or she hangs out with. Remove or lock away alcohol from your home and routinely check potential hiding places for alcohol—in backpacks, under the bed, between clothes in a drawer, for example. Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of him or her having been caught using alcohol.
- Encourage other interests and social activities. Expose your teen to healthy hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Scouts, and afterschool clubs.
- Talk to your child about underlying issues. Drinking can be the result of other problems. Is your child having trouble fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress?
- Get outside help: You don’t have to go it alone. Teenagers often rebel against their parents but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Try seeking help from a sports coach, family doctor, therapist, or counselor.