Alcohol issues can break families apart and destroy relationships. There is effective alcohol addiction treatment available, but before a family member can seek treatment, they have to become aware and accept that their alcohol use has become a problem that’s having repercussions on the entire family.

Drunk man with glass of alcohol sitting on sofa while wife standing behind

How to Identify and Address Alcoholism in Your Family

You may have noticed that some aspect of a family member’s behaviour is becoming problematic. If you suspect alcohol is causing family issues, there are some telltale symptoms to look for that will help indicate the seriousness of the situation. Behavioural signs include:

Young family falls apart, depressed woman because of alcoholic husband
  • Aggressiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Frequent falls, dropping things and accidents
  • Impaired judgement
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Neglecting personal care
  • Other substance abuse (cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and pills)
  • Problems driving
  • Repeated absences from work or school
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Suicidal behaviour

If you notice any of these behaviours, take the time to educate yourself about alcoholism. Understand the impact it can have on individuals and families and the available treatment options. This knowledge will help you approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. It will also help the entire family come to an agreement on the best option for extended treatment.

Confronting an alcoholic family member who is struggling to accept their condition can be a challenging and sensitive situation. Here are some things to consider when approaching this difficult conversation:

Choose the Right Time and Place

Find a suitable time and place for the conversation. Avoid times when the person is likely to be intoxicated or stressed. Choose a quiet, private and comfortable setting where you can talk without interruptions.

Express Concern and Empathy

Begin the conversation by expressing your concern for their well-being. Use “I” statements to communicate your feelings without accusing or blaming anyone. For example, say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been struggling with alcohol, and I’m worried about your health and safety”.

Use Non-judgmental Language

It’s important to avoid using judgmental or accusatory language. Instead of criticising their behaviour, focus on expressing your care and support. Avoid phrases that can sound confrontational, like “you need to” or “you should”.

Share Observations

Gently share instances or behaviours you’ve noticed that are concerning. Be specific, using facts and examples that show your genuine concern. Avoid exaggerations or generalisations. The more evidence that can be provided, the easier it will be for them to accept their problem.

Let Them Share Their Feelings

Give them the opportunity to express themselves. Listen actively without interrupting or becoming defensive. Allow them to share their thoughts, feelings, and struggles related to alcohol.

Offer Help and Solutions

Let them know that you’re there to support them. Offer information about treatment options, counselling, support groups, and rehab programmes. Avoid pushing them into an immediate solution, but let them know you’re willing to help them explore ways to recover.

There is effective alcoholism treatment

Set Boundaries

If their behaviour is negatively impacting you or the family, communicate your boundaries. Make it clear that you won’t enable their alcoholism but that you’re willing to support their recovery.

Be Prepared for Resistance

It’s possible when confronting an alcoholic family member that the person might react with denial, defensiveness, anger, or avoidance. Be ready for these reactions and remain calm and compassionate. You may have to revisit the conversation over several days before they accept their situation.

Encourage Professional Help

Suggest seeking help from a medical professional, therapist, or addiction counsellor. Offer to help them find programmes or accompany them to appointments if they’re willing.

Follow Up with Them

After the initial conversation, continue to check in on them regularly and encourage other family members to do the same. Offer your support and encouragement as they navigate the journey to recovery.

Remember that confronting an alcoholic family member is a delicate process, and there’s no guaranteed outcome. Ultimately, the decision to seek help and make changes rests with the individual. Your role is to provide support, understanding, and information to help them on their path to recovery.

If the situation becomes too challenging or if the person’s safety is at risk, consider seeking guidance from a professional interventionist or counsellor. Once they accept their condition, they can play a part in planning their recovery.

Consider The Cabin Rehab Chiang Mai

The Cabin Rehab in Chiang Mai is an alcohol treatment centre with a programme that offers hope to those struggling with an alcohol problem. We offer a treatment programme combining cognitive behavioural therapy, the 12-step approach, mindfulness, and physical fitness therapy. Our workshops use non-religious language and themes, making the programme accessible to a diverse clientele.

For more information about The Cabin and the alcohol addiction treatment we offer, please get in touch with us today.

About the Author

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Lee Daniel Hawker-Lecesne

Clinical Director at The Cabin (MBPsS, British Psychological Society Number: 479469) Lee is a Registered Member of the British Psychological Society. He graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK with a degree in Behavioural Science and a postgraduate clinical focus on addictions from the University of Bath. Lee is a focused and ambitious individual who has in-depth training and experience in a broad range of clinical psychological interventions in the treatment of addiction, dual diagnosis, and complex trauma.

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