Alcoholism can happen quickly within months and it can happen slowly over a period of several years. When you have lived with a person and have seen them drink on regular basis, you may not immediately recognize they have a drinking problem. A day may arrive when their drinking patterns and behaviors when drunk become suspect. When that happens, you will be confronted with difficult decisions to make and options to choose from for moving forward.
Your first decision will be to confirm your suspicions that your family member has a problem. Ask yourself if they are increasingly defensive about their drinking or is making efforts to disguise how much they drinks. Have they missed work or family events due to drinking? Ask other family members if they have noticed this family member’s increased alcohol consumption. You may need to do more research to explore signs of excessive drinking. Multiple online sources can provide the guidance and information you need.
When you have concluded that your family member is drinking too much or with greater frequency, reach out to services and support groups that can help you handle the problem. You can rarely, if ever, address an alcohol problem alone. With little effort you will find several groups that can educate you on the realities of alcohol abuse and on programs to treat that abuse. Join one or more of those groups, attend their meetings and share your feelings and problems with them. They will universally support you while protecting your and your family member’s privacy in a non-judgmental environment.
Resolve to stop doing anything that enables your family member’s drinking. If you routinely purchase alcoholic beverages for him or her, stop those purchases immediately. Reject their requests to join them for a drink. Stop making excuses for their conduct. For example, do not call their employer to excuse them from work or let them avoid regular duties and obligations because of their drinking.
Follow your support group’s lead and do not be judgmental. Alcoholism is a disease that creates a chemical dependency and that alters the alcoholic’s brain chemistry. You would not sit in adverse judgment of a family member who came down with the flu. Alcoholism is a different type of disease than the flu, and although it may not be contagious, it can be a reaction to certain traumas or triggers in your family member’s life. Rather than judge the disease, help your family member to find treatment for it.
Choose a good time to talk to your family member about his or her drinking. Do not try to have that discussion while they are drinking or is under any other unique and immediate stress. When you do talk to them, stay calm and express as much empathy as you can muster. Let your family member know that you are raising his or her drinking problem out of your sense of care and concern.
The staff and counselors at Last Resort are available to discuss your concerns and to help you talk to your family member who may be drinking too much. Please call us at your convenience at (512)-360-3600 for confidential and caring guidance that can get you started on addressing those concerns.