Having a family member or friend with alcoholism isn’t an easy thing for anyone to have to deal with. You still love them, which is not going to change; however, you don’t like how they act while they’re drinking or some of the things they say. It’s not easy knowing how to give support to a loved one who is battling alcohol abuse.
One of the most important things to do if you notice a loved one showing signs of alcohol abuse is acknowledge it; don’t ignore it. If they think they can get away with their drinking and any unbecoming behavior it might encourage them to continue drinking. You can let them know you’re concerned by saying “I’m worried about the amount you’ve been drinking. Could you have a problem?”
Offer your help in whatever way possible. Find out when and where the local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter meets. Pass that information to them but don’t be surprised if they don’t use it, at least not right away.
If they do decide to go to an AA meeting, find out if they have any open meetings which allow family to attend. Having someone with them who is in their corner can be instrumental in getting them to the meeting. Some chapters have family meetings which will give you more information about the disease and what you can do to help.
Remove any temptation from your home. If a family member is having problems with alcoholism, remove all alcohol from the home. They can’t drink if they don’t have access to it. Other family members who enjoy a drink on occasion don’t have to become teetotalers, but they may want to only drink when that person isn’t around.
Don’t believe everything they say. Some alcoholics will tell you anything you want to hear as long as it gets them what they need. They may promise to go into treatment if you’ll help them, but don’t believe them. They’re not trying to hurt or deceive you; their illness is causing them to act that way.
Set specific boundaries and help them stick to those boundaries. The most important boundary to have is that they quit drinking. It won’t be an easy boundary for them to stay within but for their health, and maybe yours and your children’s health, that’s the one boundary that they need to adhere to.
Practice ‘tough love.’ Sometimes all you’ll want to do is take over and solve some of the predicaments your loved one gets into. This won’t help them recover; in fact, it may enable them to continue drinking and become more mixed up with alcohol. Sometimes it’s important to realize you may be able to help them most by not helping them at all. They need to come to the point where they realize they need to stop drinking, and they’ll never learn that if you’re always bailing them out.
If your family has been affected by alcoholism, knowing how to give support to a loved one isn’t easy. It’s a fine line you’ll be forced to walk. However, if you continue to show them that you love them but don’t love what they become when they drink, they may learn that they don’t need to depend on alcohol.
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