Dealing With an Alcoholic
Living with an alcoholic isn’t easy, whether it’s your spouse, parent, grandparent or teenage child. Alcoholism is an illness that can destroy the entire family unit. Not all alcoholics are alike. High-functioning alcoholics continue to drink while experiencing success in their careers – often going for drinks with coworkers and friends. The other extreme is low-functioning alcoholics, which includes those who have lost everything and continue to drink. Both need intervention, but they will most often deny that a problem exists. Alcoholism is a serious problem in the United States, with over 17 million adult alcoholics or people with problems associated with alcohol, reports MedlinePlus.
What Defines an Alcoholic?
Do you suspect someone you associate with is an alcoholic? This could be a friend, coworker or family member. You want to help but just don’t know what to do. Signs you may observe that indicate an intervention is needed include:
- Lying to hide the times or amount of drinking
- Needing alcohol to relax
- “Blackouts” or forgetfulness
- Neglecting normal responsibilities at work, home or school
- Preferring to go out with friends and get drunk over maintaining family relationships
- Getting arrested for driving while intoxicated or for drunk and disorderly conduct
How Can I Help?
Once you determine that an intervention is needed, look for a support group such as Al-Anon for yourself. In dealing with an alcoholic, you will encounter many unforeseen obstacles that are difficult to manage. Having a support group in place will give you the resources to work through these difficulties. The steps you take will be determined by whether or not the alcoholic in your life is willing to receive treatment or if there is denial and resistance. You may need to solicit the help of substance abuse professionals in setting up an intervention.
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Steps to Avoid in Intervention
Denial is usually the initial reaction when you approach an alcoholic about the need for help. An alcoholic will try to rationalize each activity or just refuse to discuss anything to do with drinking. Some suggestions for dealing with an alcoholic include:
- Avoid becoming emotional. Alcoholics may react to an emotional appeal with guilt, which can lead to an increase in drinking to appease the feelings.
- Don’t threaten with punishment or bribery. Realize that alcoholism is a disease that requires more than willpower to conquer.
- Refuse to cover for the alcoholic. Don’t make excuses that prevent the alcoholic from realizing the consequences of their behavior while under the influence.
- Refrain from arguing. Arguing with a person impaired by alcohol will only make matters worse, and can even lead to physical danger.
- Remember that you are not responsible for the behavior of the alcoholic. Dealing with an alcoholic in the family requires getting the right support for yourself and the alcoholic.
Where to Get Help
If you feel helpless dealing with an alcoholic in your family or close circle of friends, we can help you take the first step to finding help. Our qualified staff of professionals will listen to your concerns and guide you through the necessary process for getting your friend or loved into an alcohol program to deal with the addiction.