When you realize a family member has a drinking problem, it can become quite unsettling, but realizing they have a problem is the first step to helping them get help for his problem. Let us look at some other ways to help a family member who is in the same dilemma.
Be supportive, instead of criticizing. Criticizing someone with an addiction will only put a barrier between you and the person because she will feel like you are judging her and her behavior. Do not use critical words, but instead use direct examples and share your feelings of how the person’s addiction is impacting your relationship with her. Express how much you care for your relative and be genuine when talking with her. Furthermore, talk calmly, instead of getting all worked up and becoming boisterous. If you become angry or heated about the topic or their alcohol usage, she will likely become defensive and not hear any of things you have to say. Also, have concrete alternatives ready to present for her issue with alcohol when you talk with her. Counseling, support groups, an intervention and inpatient treatment facilities are forms of options you can present her for her to obtain help for her alcohol addiction. Having ready alternatives available not only shows that you are serious in your wanting her to change, but it provides her an opportunity to think about the options available to her when she gets ready to make a change.
Have patience with the person. It may be hard for him to digest all of the accusations you have just thrown at him, and it may take them time to sort through the information you given about his alcohol use. It may take several conversations and loads of time for him to see things the same way you see them. Do not expect the person to be ready to change immediately. Also, do not place your expectations on your family member either. You have been thinking and processing the steps for recovery far longer than your relative, so remember to be patient with them. Allow them time to process the information you have presented him with concerning his addiction. He will have to weigh the pros and cons to determine if recovery is something he are willing to accept and participate in. Do not be disheartened if it this process takes longer than you were expecting either. Additionally, if you remain uncritical of him, it will allow the lines of communication to remain open for many conversations about treatment opportunities in the future as well. Remember, most things that turn out really good later, take patience starting out!
Ask other family members the individual trusts to talk with her as well. If the family member with a drinking problem has a good relationship with someone, they will be more likely to listen to what that person has to say regarding their alcohol problem. As many people you can have on your team, will help lead your family member toward recovery.
Do not blame yourself for your relative’s choice to drink. This issue is not something you would ever choose for your family member. So, remember, it is not your fault he is drinking or is in the situation he is currently enduring. Even if you could change the situation, he would still have other problems that are outside of your control. You are not responsible for the condition he is in, and you are not responsible for the choices and actions he has made, which led him to this point. Only the person making the choice to drink is responsible for the suffering he is enduring. You do not have as important of a role in their addiction as you think you do. You are pretty much powerless to help unless he is willing to change for himself. You can be there for support or to cheer him on toward recovery, but stop blaming yourself for something you are not in control of. Most importantly, blaming yourself does not help the problem. It only produces defeat and in order to overcome addiction, one must always have hope.
Create boundaries to prevent yourself from being hurt by your relative’s alcohol abuse. It may not be pleasurable to spend time with your family member when he has been consuming alcohol. It is acceptable to tell your relative you will not spend time with him when he has been boozing. Putting boundaries in place allows you to maintain your relationship without it being damaged by the alcohol use. Keeping boundaries allows you to keep the love for your relative instead of being sucked into the craziness and drama that typically revolves around alcohol use. Tell your loved one the boundaries you are putting into place and make sure you are consistently following through with these boundaries. Develop consequences for when the family member does not abide by the boundaries and follow through with those as well.
There are many ways to help a family member who is addicted to alcohol; too many to list here. The hope is for you to continue to research ways to best fit the needs of your family. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing your family member has a problem outside of your control, but remember, you can have a significant impact on your relative finding freedom from his drinking problem.