How to Help an Alcoholic Family Member

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Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder, can have a destructive impact on the individual struggling with the disease as well as the people that surround them. It can be particularly difficult when it affects a family member. These are usually the people we love the most and tend to put extra effort toward getting them help. The challenge and uncertainty that pave the road to recovery for an alcoholic family member can be disheartening, but fortunately, there are resources available to help you and your loved one through the process.

5 Helpful Ways to Deal with an Alcoholic Family Member

Read on to discover some tips that will help you play a constructive part in helping an alcoholic along the road to recovery.

1. Educate Yourself About Alcohol Addiction 

Learning more about alcohol addiction will help you to assess whether your family member is struggling with alcohol dependence rather than just harmful drinking - which is also damaging to the health, but will not necessitate the same treatment. As well, showing your loved one that you understand their struggle deeply will help them to feel validated and more open to receiving your help and recommendations. Through gaining a better understanding of their addiction, you will realize that their problem is a physical reality which they didn’t choose for themselves.

The following resources can help you to learn more about alcoholism:

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2. Talk to Your Loved One About Their Drinking

When you recognize the signs of alcohol abuse, it is important to address the situation as early as possible. When you approach a loved one about their drinking, let them know that they can trust you, and that you genuinely care for their wellbeing. Alcoholic symptoms and behaviors can be called out in a loving way. While it is important to be stern and honest with your loved one, it is equally important to do so in a loving way. 

Family members are usually a little more expectant of candid responses from each other, and they tend to have less barriers and filters that might come into play with other relationships. This can be to your advantage when it comes to honesty. However, don’t be coarse in your tone and come off judgmental. There may be a lot of internal hurt, and the last thing you want is for them to get defensive, build walls, and shut you out. They need to know you have their best interest at heart.


3. Ask a Professional for Help Addressing the Alcoholic Family Member

Many treatment centers are prepared to help you with that difficult conversation with your loved one. They are staffed with teams of professionals that are educated and trained to not only help the person struggling with addiction, but also to help the families and loved ones supporting them on the outside. They can help provide an outline of ways to approach the person and how to express concern without making the individual feel threatened and defensive. A team of professionals can help you to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse with your family member and determine the next steps toward learning how to help a loved one with an alcohol addiction.

4. Find Treatment Centers in Your Area

Treatment centers exist all over the country. SAMHSA is a great resource to help you search for a treatment facility that will meet your family member’s needs. You will be given contact information for multiple facilities that will provide you with the information necessary about how to help an alcoholic family member and take the next steps needed to see them through treatment successfully. Being armed with this type of information in advance can help steer a conversation in a positive direction and let your loved one know you are fighting for them.


5. Help Them Work Out Financial Logistics

Put your words into action and help them do some of the legwork and research in finding treatment. Ask your family member if they have insurance. Many treatment facilities take insurance, and all it takes is contacting them and asking them to explain the financial process. Even if they don’t have insurance, there are other options available. Some facilities offer payment plans or scholarship programs. Most treatment programs are more than happy to refer to other facilities if they are unable to accommodate your financial needs. If you truly want to know how to help an alcoholic family member, this is a great way to help relieve some of their stress. It shows initiative and will make them feel like you are really rooting for their success.


Learn more about your family member’s struggle Attempt to confront an alcoholic family member in denial or get a loved one to stop drinking without professional guidance 
Create an open channel of communication with your struggling family member Drink around your family member, even in small quantities and at social gatherings. 
Research the most suitable treatment programs together with your loved one  Offer financial assistance without verifying that the money is going solely towards treatment


Getting Help for a Loved One With Alcoholism

When learning how to help an alcoholic, it is imperative that you have the resources available and people willing to stand with you to help your family member, be it an alcoholic spouse, child, sibling or parent. You are not alone, and together you will be a crucial support system in the recovery process for addiction. At Avenues Recovery, we understand the value of family and your desire to see them thrive. Please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us start the process of getting your loved one the help they need.

Sometimes alcoholics resist help. Learn more about how to convince an alcoholic to go for addiction treatment, and how to get court ordered rehab for a loved one when they pose a danger to themselves or others.

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