Alcohol Abuse and Dependence
For Family and Friends
If someone close to you has had a drinking problem, you know how hard it can be. You know how living or dealing with someone who abuses or is dependent on alcohol can change and even destroy your life. You're an important part of your loved one's treatment and recovery. Your emotions and life may change too, and taking care of yourself is also important.
It can be very hard to live with a family member who has a drinking problem. It's best not to try to control, excuse, or cover up the person's drinking. Instead, encourage your family member to seek treatment. Find a good time to talk to the person.
Help with treatment and recovery
When the choice for treatment has been made, you play an important part. You can help your loved one stop drinking and help repair the damage done to your family or relationship. Here are some things you can do:
- If you drink, decide whether you want to keep alcohol in the house. Having alcohol in your home might make it harder for your loved one to stay sober.
- Be involved and patient. Attend recovery meetings with your loved one, and be supportive. Know that it may take a long time for you to trust and forgive the person and for the person to forgive himself or herself.
- Be aware that your loved one may seem like a different person after he or she is sober. You may find it hard to get used to this person. You may need to rebuild your relationship.
- Understand that you have the right to know how recovery is going, but ask about it in a respectful way.
- Reference Help your loved one plan for a relapse. Most people relapse after treatment. This doesn't mean the treatment failed. Try to help your loved one see relapse as a chance to do better and to keep working on skills to avoid drinking.
- Focus on the positive actions your loved one is making.
Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself while you help your loved one is important. You probably will feel relief and happiness when the person decides to get help. But treatment and recovery mean changes in your life too. Your emotions may become more complicated. You may:
- Resent what the person did to you in the past.
- Not trust the person. You may not want to give the person the house key, the car key, or money. You also may feel guilty about not trusting the person.
- Find it hard to give up or share your family role. For example, if you took over child-rearing when your partner was drinking, you may resent his or her becoming involved again. If you managed money, you may resent having to make shared decisions on how to spend money.
- Resent that the person is spending more time at meetings or with others in recovery than with you.
- Worry so much about relapse that you avoid anything that you think may upset the person. You also may resent this feeling.
These feelings are normal. You've been through a bad period of your life, and what happened is not easy to forget. Nor is it easy to forgive your loved one. Keep in mind that recovery is the road to a better life and that you can help your loved one get there.
Find your own support
You may find that talking to people who also have loved ones with alcohol problems helps your own recovery. Reference Al-Anon and similar programs are for people with family members or friends with alcohol problems. Other support groups are specially designed for certain age groups, such as Alateen for teens and Alatot for younger children.
These programs help you recover from the effects of being around someone who abused or was dependent on alcohol. You also may try Reference family therapy Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference January 18, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction