How to Deal with an Alcoholic Family Member

If your family member regularly drinks too much, they might not realize they have a problem. Here are steps to take to help them admit they may be addicted to alcohol.

Alcoholism is a crippling and scary disease that affects more than 14 million people across the U.S. If someone you love is struggling with alcoholism and has lost control of their life, you may be wondering if recovery is possible and what steps you can take to help them admit they have a problem.

If alcohol abuse is impacting your family, it may be time to seek professional help. In addition to the recommendations provided below, our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to speak with you about treatment options and help get you the information you need. Call our hotline at 1-888-685-5770  or fill out the form at the bottom of this page to start your journey toward recovery today.

Although sobriety from alcohol is a lifelong process, with the right treatment and support, your family member can begin to get their life back on track, learn how to prevent future relapses and manage triggers. To help them better understand this chronic disorder and their need for treatment, here are some ways you can approach the discussion and be proactive about taking care of your needs as well:

helping alcoholic family

Don’t Hide the Problem

Don’t hide the problem from other family members or friends. Relatives of those abusing alcohol are often embarrassed by their family member’s behavior and may avoid social occasions because they don’t want to answer questions about their drinking. However, hiding the problem won’t help them see the problem. Their behavior is their responsibility; allow them to feel ashamed when they sober up or experience consequences for their behavior (e.g., not being invited to the next party). Remember that the more you allow them to experience negative consequences for their drinking, the more likely they are to want to change their behavior.

Is a loved one struggling with alcohol?

When and How to Confront an Alcoholic

If you’re hoping to discuss their drinking or treatment options, its best to do so when they are sober. Trying to talk with them when they have been drinking may not have the outcome you’re hoping for—or they may become defensive, angry or even violent. Try to come from a position of love and concern rather than judgment or anger when talking about drinking. For example, say things like, “I notice you drink five or six beers every time we go out and I’m concerned that you may be addicted,” rather than, “You got drunk again last night, you must have problems.”

Still, it may take a few conversations before they are willing to discuss treatment or their alcohol abuse. Be patient and understanding. If they aren’t ready to seek treatment following additional discussions, it may be time to consider an intervention. An intervention typically involves an intervention specialist, a drug and alcohol counselor, or a physician along with family and friends.

Set Boundaries

Set firm boundaries and stick to them. While you can’t directly stop them from drinking, you can protect yourself from the negative consequences of her behavior. Setting these limits can also help them decide to stop drinking. Boundaries differ from person to person and should be based on protecting yourself from unwanted consequences of someone else’s behavior, not on punishing the person for drinking. For example, some families may choose to allow their family member to stay in jail following an arrest related to drinking or may refuse to speak to them on the phone or let them in the house when they are drunk.

Support for Families of Alcoholics

Seek help for yourself. Although only your family member can decide to stop drinking, alcoholism affects everyone in the family. Counseling or therapy can help you differentiate between behaviors you have control over and those you don’t, giving you a greater understanding of the disorder and ways to handle negative situations that may arise in the future due to their drinking. The more you focus on yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to help support your loved one.

finding treatment

Find Addiction Treatment for a Family Member

Once they’re ready to seek treatment—depending on the severity of their alcohol use disorder (AUD)—individuals can enter into an alcohol rehabilitation program via a variety of treatment settings. Typically, alcohol addiction rehab involves a mix of private and group counseling sessions, medications, support groups, and behavioral therapies.

Through treatment, your loved one will be able to work toward recovering amongst their peers and share their experiences with others who have struggled with addiction as well. AUD may be somewhat different for everyone, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to manage the disease, but recovery is possible with the right treatment and ongoing recovery efforts.

 

Check Your Insurance Coverage

Because the cost of rehab can be expensive, you may also want to also start thinking about how to pay for treatment. The cost of a rehabilitation program for alcoholism can vary widely, depending on the type of program and your insurance coverage. Based on your insurance provider and specific policy, you may have more coverage than you think.

As a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers (AAC), a nationwide provider of substance abuse treatment facilities, Alcohol.org offers a quick and easy form below to verify if you’re covered to receive care at one of their facilities. AAC works to make treatment accessible for everyone in need and understands that making the decision to seek treatment for addiction isn’t easy.

Because of this, we accept many insurance plans and can work with you on a manageable payment schedule so that finances aren’t a roadblock to your loved ones getting the help they deserve. If you have further questions about their treatment options, consider calling our admissions navigators who are available 24/7 at 1-888-685-5770 .