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How to Get Help For an Alcoholic Family Member

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When someone that you care about has become addicted to alcohol, it’s common to fear that there’s nothing you can do to help them. While it’s true that you can’t cure your loved one, you can play a vital role in the effort to connect them with the care they need. In today’s post, we discuss how to get help for an alcoholic family member.

Signs of Alcoholism

Before we explore how to get help for an alcoholic family member, let’s quickly review how to tell if your loved one has become addicted. Here are some of the more common signs of alcoholism:

  • Spending significant amounts of time drinking or recovering from the effects of alcohol
  • Turning to alcohol to feel joy, manage stress, or cope with sadness
  • Needing alcohol to help them wake up in the morning or get to sleep at night
  • Hiding alcohol in their car, in their office, and/or in various locations throughout their house or apartment
  • Lying about how much or how often they drink
  • Using alcohol in ways that are especially dangerous, such as drinking while also taking prescription pills or other drugs
  • Failing to meet their personal or work-related responsibilities because they’ve been drinking
  • Continuing to drink even after experiencing physical, psychological, or social damage due to prior alcohol abuse
  • Developing tolerance to alcohol, which means they have to drink more to experience the effects they are seeking
  • Becoming agitated, irritated, or physically sick when they can’t drink, or when they try to quit

If you’ve noticed these signs, there’s a good chance that your loved one has a drinking problem and needs professional care. Now, let’s turn our attention toward how to get help for an alcoholic family member.

How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

The following tips are good starting points for trying to help someone who has become ensnared by alcohol addiction:

Do Your Research

Educate yourself about the effects of alcoholism as well as types of treatment. The more you understand about what your family member has been going through, the better prepared you will be to offer meaningful assistance. Also, when your loved one decides to get help, your research into treatment options can help you identify facilities or programs that may be the best fit for them.

Know Your Limits

We noted this at the top of this post, but it’s worth reiterating here: You cannot cure someone else’s addiction. When you acknowledge that certain aspects of your loved one’s life are beyond your ability to control, this can free you to stop blaming yourself for their struggles. It can also empower you to focus on the areas that you can influence – such as learning how to get help for an alcoholic family member.

Have That Difficult Conversation

Talking to someone about their alcohol abuse is rarely an easy conversation to have. But it is necessary. At some point, you will need to share your concerns with your loved one and talk to them about getting help. As you prepare for this discussion, keep the following in mind:

  • Your loved one may respond with denial, pushback, or even anger. 
  • Realize that they are not in full control of their thoughts and emotions. 
  • Don’t let the discussion turn into an argument.
  • Understand that it may take several conversations before your loved one agrees to get help.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and plan to revisit the topic.

Protect Yourself

Don’t let your loved one push you around, either metaphorically or literally. 

Alcoholism can cause people to become uncharacteristically manipulative and aggressive. If you feel that you are in danger, remove yourself from the situation. If you worry that your loved one may become physically or emotionally abusive, don’t allow yourself to be alone with them. 

As with talking to your loved one about their alcoholism, establishing appropriate boundaries isn’t easy – but it is extremely important.

Don’t Be an Enabler

Resist the urge to cover up for your loved one’s misdeeds or make excuses for what they have (or haven’t) done. You might feel like you’re protecting them from additional harm, but what you may actually be doing is enabling their self-destructive behavior. 

Accountability and responsibility are cornerstones of effective recovery. Even if your loved one isn’t ready to quit drinking yet, they need to know that neither you nor anyone else will continue to shield them from the effects of their actions. 

Get Help 

Trying to support an alcoholic family member on your own can be an overwhelming experience. If at all possible, don’t try to take this challenge on by yourself. Recruit a small number of close friends and/or trusted family members to help. 

In addition to taking some of the burden off your shoulders, having this additional assistance can also demonstrate to your family member that many people care about them and are here to help them. Breaking through the isolation of alcoholism can be an important step on the path to recovery.

Talk to a Professional

Your efforts to get help shouldn’t be limited to family and friends. When a family member becomes addicted to alcohol, they aren’t the only one who is impacted. Whether you realize it or not, you have also been affected by your loved one’s struggles.

Talking to a therapist, counselor, spiritual advisor, or other professional can help you process your experiences in a healthy manner. If your loved one has not yet agreed to enter a treatment program, the professional that you speak with may also be able to provide guidance on how to get help for an alcoholic family member.  

Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Nashville

If someone that you care about has been struggling with alcoholism or any other form of chemical dependence, Nashville Treatment Solutions is here to help. Our addiction treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, offers multiple levels of personalized outpatient care to help adults end their alcohol abuse and build a healthier life in recovery. Throughout your family member’s time with us, they will receive customized services and compassionate support from a team of highly skilled treatment professionals.

To learn more about our programming, or to schedule an assessment for your family member, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.