Seeing a family member struggle with an alcohol disorder is difficult and it can be challenging to know how to help them change the situation. Alcoholism is a term used to describe a condition whereby someone may have problems controlling their drinking habits or continue to drink even though it is causing issues in their life. The dependency on alcohol may also lead to problems in their personal or professional life, as well as impact their health and wellbeing. There is a spectrum of alcohol misuse, from mild to the severe, but mild habits can often develop into more serious problems over time. Here are some tips on how to help a loved one through their alcohol problem.
Educate Yourself About Alcohol Use Disorder
Before you approach someone about their disorder, it’s important to understand what an alcohol use disorder is. Alcoholism differs enormously from just drinking too much — alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism or be a social habit for some people, but it’s not necessarily alcoholism. There are online sources to enable you to read up on the symptoms of alcoholism and the process for different alcohol treatment options, such as what rehab involves so that you can be prepared.
The first thing to remember is that treatment for an addiction is an ongoing process that can include a range of different methods, from rehab to medication or therapy. Standing by your family member throughout the process is key to helping them feel supported and cared for. By staying invested in their recovery, they will feel that they can turn to you if they have a difficult period — for example, if they attend an event or social situation where there is alcohol. Show an interest in new strategies they’ve learned and if they are open to the idea, attend meetings with them so they don’t feel like they’re going through this alone.
Set Firm Boundaries
You can’t stop anyone from drinking, but you can protect yourself from the ramifications of their behaviour, so set limits and stick to them. For example, some families may choose not to bail an alcoholic out of jail or let them in the house when they’re drunk. By remaining firm about these limits, you’re also helping the individual to decide whether they want to stop drinking, as they will have to deal with the consequences of their actions rather than have someone else take on the responsibility.
When you’re speaking with someone who has an alcohol problem, the best thing you can do to help is be open and honest towards them. You may have to be prepared for a negative reaction to your fears that they’re drinking too much, but don’t take it personally or retaliate. It’s important that your comments and views come from a place of concern and love rather than anger or frustration. Don’t try to guilt them or bribe them into stopping their drinking habits — they need to come to terms with their disorder and want to resolve it for their own wellbeing.