Alcohol dependence and addiction (also known as "disorder of alcohol use") not only affects the person drinking, but also affects their families and loved ones. It can be as heartbreakingly upsetting as it is frustrating to watch a friend or family member struggle with a drinking addiction. By neglecting their duties, getting into financial and legal problems, or mistreating or even abusing you and other family members, your loved one might be damaging family life.
Witnessing the drinking of your loved one and your relationship's deterioration can cause many distressing emotions, including guilt, anxiety, rage, and self-blame. The addiction to your loved one can even be so crippling that it seems easier to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong. But denying it will only bring more damage to you in the long run, to your loved one with the issue, and to the rest of your family.
It is important to note that your struggle is not alone. Millions of individuals, from every social class, race, history, and community, are affected by alcoholism and substance abuse. But support is available. While you can't do your loved one's hard job of overcoming addiction, your persistence, compassion, and support can play a crucial role in their long-term rehabilitation. Through these guidelines, you will help to ease the pain of your loved one, protect your own mental health and well-being, and return your relationship and family life to peace and harmony.
Identify the signs of the problem
Drinking is an ordinary part of life for many individuals. It's legal and socially appropriate for an adult to consume an alcoholic drink in most areas. But because the effects of alcohol differ so much from one person to another, when a loved one's alcohol consumption has crossed the line from responsible, social drinking to alcohol abuse, it is not always easy to say. There is no particular quantity suggesting that someone has an alcohol use disorder. Rather, it's characterized by how your loved one's life is influenced by alcohol.
Many individuals are drinking more than they used to in an effort to alleviate tension in these tough times of the global pandemic, economic instability, and high unemployment. That doesn't make it less of a problem, although it's easy to understand. Using alcohol to cope with tension, deal with issues, or stop feeling bad could be a sign that drinking your loved one has become an issue.
Your loved one might also have a problem with alcohol if they:
When they drink or recover from drinking, they frequently neglect their duties at home, work, or school.
Binge drinking or drinking more frequently than they expected.
Cheat on how much they drink, or attempt to cover it up.
Black out, or can't recall what alcohol was used when they said or did.
Continue to drink even though their relationships with you and others are causing problems.
For a mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, use alcohol to self-medicate.
If you know the warning signs that your loved one has an alcohol problem, knowing everything you can about addiction and alcohol abuse is the first step to helping them. If you have learned all the various forms of treatment and self-help options available to them, you will be prepared to speak about their drinking with your loved one and provide the encouragement and assistance they need.
How to talk about their drinking to someone
Talking to someone about their drinking is not easy. You may be worried that the person may become angry, defensive, lash out, or simply deny that they have a problem if you raise your concerns. These are all, in fact, normal reactions. That is not an excuse to stop saying anything, however. It's not likely that your loved one's drinking will get better on its own; it is more likely to get worse before you speak up.
Although being transparent and frank about your issues is vital, you need to note that you will not compel anyone to quit substance abuse. You can't make anyone quit drinking as much as you might want to, and as hard as it is to watch. The selection is up to them. What you can do, however, is give them steps they can take to fix their issue, whether it's calling a helpline, talking to a doctor or counselor, attending therapy, or going to a community meeting.
Encouraging your loved one to get assistance
Don't expect to solve a drinking addiction alone with your loved one. Even if they do not need medical supervision to safely withdraw, to quit or cut down on their alcohol, they will also need help, guidance, and new coping skills.
Your friend or family member can be helped to get support by:
Offering to accompany them to appointments with physicians, social meetings or therapy sessions.
Sitting with them as they call for support from a helpline.
Make a clear plan for them, outlining what improvements they're going to make and how.
When your loved one agrees to seek assistance, your job does not end. Recovery, which takes time and patience, is an ongoing operation. Someone who drinks alcohol, until they're sober, would not magically become a different individual. They'll, in reality, face a host of new challenges. They will have to find new ways of living without alcohol and, in the first place, they will also have to resolve the issues that contributed to their alcohol abuse. But they will get there with your continuing support and affection.
Supporting the recuperation of your loved one
A bumpy journey may be recovery from alcoholism or a drinking addiction. Around half of people who finish treatment for substance dependence for the first time remain alcohol-free, while at some stage the other half relapse and return to drinking. In order to eventually regain sobriety, it is normal for people to require counseling more than once. That means that when helping the rehabilitation of your loved one, you will need plenty of patience.
Encourage your loved one to have new interests cultivated. It can leave a big hole in their life if someone spends a lot of time drinking (and recovering from drinking), stopping or cutting down. Encourage your loved one to build new passions and activities that do not include alcohol. Look for activities that can enrich and add value to their lives, such as taking a class to learn something new; spending time in nature, hiking, camping, or fishing; volunteering for a cause that is important to them; taking up a sport; joining a hobby club; or drawing, writing, or visiting museums to pursue the arts.
Offer social activities that do not require drinking. Although you can not shelter your loved one from circumstances where there is alcohol, you can avoid drinking with or around the person. Try to suggest things that don't include alcohol while you spend time together.
Help the person overcome the issues that have induced them to drink. For instance, if your loved one drank due to boredom, anxiety, or depression, those issues would still be present until they're sober. Encourage the person without relying on alcohol to find healthy ways to cope with life's challenges and recover from setbacks.
Don't enable that person. Enabling varies from supporting when you protect the user from the effects of their drinking. When they lose their job or fall into legal trouble because of their drinking, you cover or dump bottles, take over their duties, or provide financial assistance. Helping them means keeping the individual responsible for their acts and allowing them to retain their sense of meaning and integrity.
Help them come up with better ways to deal with tension. Stress may be produced by making a significant life change by giving up or cutting back on alcohol. Similarly, heavy use of alcohol is also an improper form of stress management. By encouraging them to exercise, trust others, meditate, or follow other calming habits, you will assist your loved one to find healthy ways to minimize their level of stress.
Get ready for relapses, but do not blame yourself for them. Help your loved one prepare how they can avoid drinking triggers, deal with cravings for alcohol, and cope with social circumstances where there is pressure to drink. By calling others, going for a walk, or riding out the temptation, for example, you might help your loved one find ways to distract themselves when cravings strike, but ultimately they are just responsible for their sobriety. Setbacks are normal in healing. It is not your fault if your loved one relapses. All you can do is motivate the person to resume overcoming their drinking problem and assist them when they try again. They will get there with your assistance.