From one perspective, an alcohol-addict family member looks like a potential problem: They’re drinking, and they’re around other people who drink. So they’re probably going to have more to drink soon, right? Yes and no. While that second part may be true, the first is not always true either. In fact, if you don’t understand the pattern of their drinking or their family dynamics, sometimes it can look like more drinking is just around the corner.
But perhaps more importantly: If you don’t help them with their family issues before they need help with their alcohol addiction problems, then your help afterward may not be enough to stay sober permanently. This article will explain how different types of families respond to someone who abuses alcohol—or who struggles with any type of substance abuse—and what you can do to help that person avoid slipping back into old habits again once they get home from treatment or a meeting at AA. Keep reading to find out more…
What’s the Difference Between an Alcoholic and a Struggling Family Member?
There are a few important distinctions here that you should understand. First, someone with an alcohol problem does not automatically make the rest of their family alcoholic, drug users, or even struggling. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and it’s disappointing when you try to help someone in one of these situations and they see you as an enemy instead of as an ally. Second, while someone with an alcohol problem will often have problems with drinking, they aren’t always addicted. Someone who has an alcohol problem may or may not have a physical dependence on alcohol.
Why Do Families Need Help With Their Alcoholism Problems?
No one is born knowing how to approach someone who has an alcohol or other addiction problem. That person must be approached sensitively, and family members need to learn how to ask for help for themselves. However, once this person is ready for help, there are many reasons why they might choose to seek it out. These reasons might be different for every family member and sometimes even for different family members at different times. Some of the most important reasons why a family needs help with their alcohol addiction problems are as follows:
- Family members are tired of the mess: Most people in a family with an alcoholic or other substance abuser are tired of that person’s behavior and/or the burden it puts on everyone else. In many cases, other family members are tired of dealing with the individual’s problems and are just ready for it to end. However, some of these people are just afraid to admit to themselves or others that they want things to change.
- Family members want to protect themselves and/or their loved ones: Though it’s important to remember that you do not need to put up with someone who is abusing substances or being abusive, it’s also okay to protect yourself from someone who’s in danger by seeking help for your own health. If you’re struggling with your own mental health, financial worries, or other issues as a result of someone else’s addiction, then you might need help protecting yourself right alongside your family member.
What Are Some Common Types of Families That Respond to Help for Someone with an Addiction?
There are many different types of families that might respond to help for someone with an addiction; these are just a few examples:
- The family is full of alcoholics: Perhaps this family has members who all struggle with alcohol, and perhaps they have a history of family members seeking help for their addiction problems. In this scenario, the entire family might feel completely helpless when it comes to the situation and might accept help as long as it comes from someone outside the family.
- The family is supportive but confused: Some families are supportive of their loved one’s addiction but are confused by it and feel like they don’t know how to help their loved one. In many cases, other family members might feel like they’re being blamed for their loved one’s issues and are just tired of the blame.
- The family is hurting: Some families are struggling with their loved one’s addiction problems and just want a way out of the pain and heartache.
How Can You Help a Struggling Family Member?
First, you need to understand the person sitting across from you. You can’t help someone if you don’t understand why they’re struggling and what’s making them feel bad. What’s their story? Why are they in this family situation? What are they struggling with? Getting to know the person and family dynamic best will help you to learn how to help them. Now that you understand your struggling family member better, you need to remember that family members don’t “resolve” anyone’s substance abuse problems.
If a loved one has a serious alcohol problem, they don’t suddenly stop drinking and get better simply by seeing you. If a loved one has a serious drug problem, it doesn’t magically disappear if they just stop using. People with substance abuse problems need to confront their issues and get help for themselves just like everyone else.
Wrapping Up: Is Helping an Alcoholic with Their Family Always the Right Thing to Do?
The truth is that every situation is different and you should always listen to your gut when helping someone in your family. However, there are also a few things you can do if you’re concerned that your struggling family member might need help with their alcohol problems:
- Look for warning signs: You should be able to see that your loved one is drinking more than they used to; they should be inebriated more often; they should be acting out more; they should be getting sick more often; and they should be getting in financial or other trouble more often too. If something seems off, then it probably is.
- Help your loved one get help: Once you see that your loved one has a problem, don’t hesitate to get them help. Don’t wait around and hope it goes away. Get them help as quickly as possible.
- Remember that it’s not your job to “fix” your loved one: Your loved one needs to be willing to change, and that means that they need to want help for themselves. You can’t “fix” someone else’s substance abuse problems; you can only help someone else by giving them real, lasting hope for a better future.
The Bottom Line
Alcoholism is a serious, life-threatening illness that can take a person from being someone who is happy and productive to someone who feels alone and defeated. For many people, the first step to recovery is admitting they have a problem. This article will help you understand where alcoholics come from and what you can do if you have a family member who is struggling with their drinking.
A sober living home is an excellent resource for those in recovery. It offers a safe place to detox, focus on recovery, and the opportunity to make new friends who are going through something similar to what you’re going through. There are many different options available for people exiting drug rehabilitation programs. Treatment is the first step towards a better life and a happier future. If you or someone you love needs help with substance abuse or addiction, please call us at 954-523-1167.