Dealing with Alcoholics in the Family

If you’re dealing with alcoholics in the family, the first thing you’ll find is that the alcoholic will resort to a blame game; therefore, you must understand that it’s not your fault. An alcoholic is dependent upon their “drug” of choice, so there is nothing you can say or do to provoke (or stop) the drinking. Next, don’t take it personally when an alcoholic brakes their promise to stop drinking because the alcoholic himself is unable to control their own decision making. Once your loved has become addicted to alcohol, their brain chemistry will change to the point that they’re as shocked as you are by the choices they are making.

Now, it is also imperative to avoid feeling lonely and frustrated by trying to stop their drinking lifestyle. The more you try to control it, the more you delay the user from reaching their crisis point, which is where they will admit to having a problem and therefore reach out for help. You don’t have to create a crisis, but learning detachment will help you allow a crisis to happen. A crisis may be the only way to create change. While alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, and sometimes fatal disease, it isn’t your responsibility to cure it because you aren’t a health care professional.

dealing with alcoholics in the family

Getting an alcoholic to stop before they are ready

Alcoholics usually go through a few stages before they are ready to make a change. Until an alcoholic begins to contemplate quitting, any actions you take to “help” him quit will often be met with resistance. Alcoholics typically do not want anyone to know the level of their alcohol consumption because if someone found out the full extent of the problem, they might try to help. If family members try to “help” (enable the alcoholic) by covering up for their drinking and making excuses for him, they are playing right into the alcoholic’s denial game.

Dealing with the problem openly and honestly is the best approach. Growing up in an alcoholic home can leave long-lasting scars, so be quick to protect yourself or children from the abusive behaviors that can damage you or your children’s psyche. The National Institute of Health explains that the effects of living or being in the company of an alcoholic can cause damage to adults’ health and children’s’ growth.

Each family and each family member is uniquely affected by the individual using substances including but not limited to having unmet developmental needs, impaired attachment, economic hardship, legal problems, emotional distress, and sometimes violence being perpetrated against him or her. (NIH)

Do not fall into the cycle of having unreasonable expectations because you cannot expect someone who cannot be honest with themselves, to be honest with you. You must not allow yourself to live in the past because the circumstances you are in today aren’t the same as before since alcoholism is a progressive disease. Often, well-meaning loved ones, in trying to “help,” will do something that enables alcoholics to continue along their destructive paths.

Make sure that you are not doing anything that bolsters the alcoholic’s denial or prevents them from facing the natural consequences of their actions. Many an alcoholic had finally reached out for help when they realized their enabling system was no longer in place. Lastly, do not put off getting help in Al-Anon Family Groups because you will come to realize that you should have been doing that a long time ago.

How Can Garden State Treatment Center Help Your Family?

At our outpatient and partial care treatment center, our family therapy program gives each participant the opportunity to express how their loved one’s substance abuse has affected their lives. Family therapy takes place in a safe setting and is carefully conducted in a practical fashion by a licensed therapist. It’s important that the family effectively convey their thoughts and feelings without making the addicted loved one feel “attacked,” which can have a negative impact on the therapy session. Contact our evidence-based drug rehab around the clock for a 100% confidential assessment.