It’s hard to deal with alcohol use disorder. It’s a disease that can ruin your life, your career, and your relationships. It affects you mentally and physically—and it affects the people you care about as well.
But on this article we will be focusing on the other side of the coin. What if you’re not the one struggling with alcoholism? What if it’s someone you care about? How does alcoholism affect a person’s life if the alcoholic is someone close to them? And perhaps more importantly, what can you do?
Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder
If you want to help a family member who is an alcoholic, first you need to understand what you are up against. An individual who is addicted to alcohol will not know how to regulate their drinking habits. For long term drinkers, quitting feels impossible because their bodies have already adjusted to the presence of alcohol.
It’s not a good idea to make them quit abruptly. But you also don’t have to feel alone. This disease affects millions of adults in the US, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Expect them to try and hide their condition by drinking in private or drinking alone. They may begin to neglect their responsibilities or lose interest in the old hobbies they used to enjoy. Drinking becomes a priority—or a solution to every problem.
If you’re reading this guide, chances are you’ve already noticed these signs long ago. You are already aware of the problem. But the thing is, the alcoholic still doesn’t understand that their drinking habits also affect your family, and not just them. Or maybe they are a high-functioning alcoholic dealing with everyday stress by drinking it away. What can you do?
What Not to Do
Before we talk about what you could do, let’s acknowledge the things you should avoid doing.
For starters, you should not blame yourself for the problem. There’s only so much you can do. And the ultimate decision to get sober is on them, unfortunately. You cannot change them. Do not attempt to control or cure it—you will only feel frustrated.
With this in mind, you should not take up drinking yourself. This is not a situation wherein you “join them” because you can’t “beat them”. Do not cover up the problem, do not enable them, and instead allow them to experience the consequences of their own actions. Let them save themselves.
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What You Can Do
These steps are easier said than done; that we can assure you. Supporting your loved one through this dilemma can be tough. But you have to get help from others, specifically, medical professionals. Family members can plan an intervention to show the person how their habits are ruining their life. But beyond that, you’ll need the help of trained medical professionals.
Alcoholism can lead to physical dependence. This means the person will not be able to quit without going through withdrawal. And long term alcohol abuse can cause fatal withdrawal. But during rehab, the patient’s alcohol intake will gradually be lowered, and their withdrawal symptoms will be managed.
While you can’t enable their drinking habits nor tolerate bad behavior, you can still support them throughout the entire rehab process. This is all about giving them your emotional support. But they can also receive this from total strangers who are going through the same struggles. This is what support groups are all about.
Help keep their commitment towards change, but understand that there’s a limit to what we can do for them. Change will ultimately come from within. Try to do your part: look for an alcohol rehab facility near you today!