One of the most difficult aspects to face within a family unit is the realization that a loved one has become addicted to alcohol. Initially, there may be a period of concern, a questioning about the amount of alcohol consumed, and anxiety about how their loved one is behaving. Alcohol changes people and sometimes, the family member may almost appear a stranger. Of course, realizing the problem may be one thing, but discussing it, is another. They may not even realize that they have a drinking problem and until they acknowledge it, recognize it and then admit it, very little can be done.
Many people have faced this same scenario. Watching someone they care about to lose themselves in an alcohol addiction is so difficult. Making suggestions about cutting back the amount of alcohol consumed or about lifestyle choices, offers some hope and, the ability to monitor the situation. When someone is an alcoholic, an addiction needs very different levels of support and their lives may be out of control. If they have one glass of alcohol, they could not leave it, they must finish it. If they open a bottle of alcohol, it must be consumed. Their behavior may be extreme.
As a family unit, it is quite natural to want the problem to simply go away. Negative behavioral traits may be covered up and excuses made. Hiding the problem is not the solution. Anyone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs will need professional support and then, the ongoing support of family members once they are ready to accept it. Having a supportive unit around them may make all the difference when it comes to the recovery process.
There’s no doubt that the negative aspects of alcoholism affect everyone. It has a ripple effect leading outward affecting home life and work life and souring any relationships. Keeping the communication airways open is essential but know that it is impossible to talk sensibly if alcohol has been consumed. Choose a time when your family member is sober and then, they will be provisionally more open to discussion. Often, this will be first thing in the morning.
Tips for communication:
- Be patient
- Be firm
- Avoid being critical
- Do not back down
- Do not be overly sympathetic
When nothing changes, it’s time for cold, hard facts. If this is the first time of discussion, there may be some hope that they can alter their behaviors and break the habit, perhaps, be cutting back or moving away from unhealthy associations. However, if they have had a negative association with alcohol for some years, it is likely that they will be so addicted that they will not be able to stop drinking on their own. This is the same if they have previously tried to quit and failed. The tough talk must start, and alcohol rehab facilities should be considered.
To some degree, although the situation is a volatile one, once there is acceptance of the problem, the next steps are easier. If the loved one does not want to talk about it, then, the tough decision falls on the family unit and this may come down to refusing to give them financial support in the first instance. This will be a difficult time for all concerned.
Addiction is far too serious and too big for the family to face on their own and so, the only way to recovery is treatment. There are many different options for alcoholics and it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. Create a plan of action to discuss various options including rehabilitation centers and then, arrange a meeting to take onboard professional suggestions. Find out about medical withdrawal from the addiction and available counseling for the family member. Getting all the information required is a very powerful foundation for change and it’s also essential.