Confronting an alcoholic family member


How to Talk to an Alcoholic: Reaching Out, Connecting, and Offering Help

  • Education
  • Guidance
  • Resources
  • Training

Together, these elements can help family members and friends create a cohesive plan for approaching the loved one.

Even if an interventionist isn’t hired, it can be valuable for the family members or friends to recruit others who are concerned about the loved one to participate in or provide support for the intervention. When the loved one is surrounded by those who hold the loved one’s health and challenges as priorities, it can make it more likely that the person will hear the message of concern and respond with a willingness to get help. Still, those who participate should be able to be objective and neither overly emotional nor intimidating, to avoid a negative, fearful, or rebellious response on the part of the loved one.

Step 2: Engage in self-care.

The need to avoid overly emotional or intimidating responses is not only important to the loved one struggling with alcoholism. It is also important to help those who are approaching the loved one to prepare for potential negative responses, accusations, or rejections. Self-care is therefore an important element of any intervention that family members or friends should take seriously.

In any situation where a loved one is approached with concerns about alcoholism and its effects, there is potential for aggressive or combative responses. For this reason, it helps for family members and friends to be prepared for this potential and take steps to care for and protect themselves.

This means that these individuals should be prepared to state and stand behind certain consequences if the loved one refuses to get help, as presented by Healthline.

As an example, a family member who has been providing shelter to the loved one should decide if discontinuing that provision is an appropriate response should treatment be refused. This can be important to the family member’s wellbeing, as well as that of anyone else living in the home.

Self-care can take many forms. No matter what the consequences are that family and friends decide on, it is important that they are committed to. If the loved one refuses to respond to the request to get help, family members and friends should be prepared to enact the consequences and not back down. In addition, to help in managing the emotional challenges of the situation, family and friends should remember that getting their own counseling or other therapy can be helpful in dealing with and processing the situation.

Step 3: Have treatment options ready.

Before the intervention or approach occurs, family members and friends should make sure that a treatment option is ready and waiting in case the loved one does agree to get help. As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, having resources ready and available when the person is ready to get treatment makes it more likely that the person will actually follow through, participate in, and complete the relevant treatment program.

Because of this, it is important to find a reputable, certified, research-based treatment program that specializes in alcoholism and set up entry into that program before the individual is approached. This can ensure that there is no hiccup between the loved one’s decision to accept help and the ability to implement it.

Step 4: Stage the intervention.

Finally, when all of these elements are set up, the team assembled by the family member or friends, including the professional interventionist, can approach the individual. It is helpful to set up the meeting in advance and let the individual know that it is important. On the other hand, letting the loved one know the nature of the meeting can cause them to avoid it. Discretion based on the individual’s state and needs are necessary. Neutral ground, such as a community center or other place outside the family home, might help to prevent the person from feeling ambushed and responding defensively.

Above all, it is helpful to remember during the intervention that everything is meant to help the individual out of love. If at any point any members of the intervention team become defensive, accusatory, combative, or otherwise counterproductive to the process, they should be asked to leave. The primary objective is to present the individual with the facts of how the alcoholism is affecting the family and friends involved and offer options and consequences for getting help or resisting it.

Step 5: Participate in the loved one’s treatment.

Once the person has agreed to get help, entry into the preplanned treatment program can be completed immediately because of the advance preparation. This enables an intake analysis that provides professional diagnosis and preparation of a treatment plan. Family members or friends who helped set up the treatment program should be prepared to participate in treatment through family therapy or other activities that can help the individual learn to manage the symptoms of alcoholism. The individual will learn they can return to meaningful daily living with the love and support of family and friends who can provide motivation and understanding as the person begins to adjust to life in sobriety.

This can include the family and friends participating in:

  • Family therapy
  • Alcoholism education
  • Individual therapy to deal with issues of codependence and enabling
  • Interaction with the loved one as required during treatment

Heading toward Recovery

Finally, the person who has accepted the need for help can start to get well with the help of the family and friends, and begin the journey toward recovery. It takes effort on the part of everyone involved to learn new ways of approaching life and addiction that are most likely to help the loved one continue in recovery after treatment.

It can be a challenging road; however, with motivation, compassion, and love, family members and friends who are determined to approach a loved one struggling with alcoholism can also provide the strongest support for that person to achieve and maintain meaningful and long-term recovery from alcoholism.

How to Help an Alcoholic Parent

Does My Parent Have a Drinking Problem?

Alcohol use disorders, more commonly known as alcoholism, affect approximately 17.6 million Americans. Alcohol is by far the most commonly abused substance in the United States. Alcoholism can severely and negatively impact an individual’s personal, professional, social, and financial life. Unfortunately, alcoholism doesn’t just impact the alcoholic. It can also cause crippling effects on the alcoholics loved ones, especially their children.

Alcoholism can lead to emotional, physical, mental, and financial abuse and neglect of children of all ages. This is especially true of children who still live with or nearby their alcoholic parent. Although less damaging, alcoholism can also cause a parent to act in ways that are extremely embarrassing, or even humiliating, to their children and themselves.

Even when alcoholism doesn’t lead to severe harm or distress, it often leaves children feeling unloved, un-cared for, and unimportant. Many children of alcoholics struggle with self-esteem issues, as well as issues with the alcoholic parent. It isn’t fair that children have to take on the role of an adult in the family, which can lead to bitterness and resentment. What causes the most stress for many children of alcoholics is the constant fear and worry. “Is my parent going to come home safe. What kind of mood are they going to be in? Are they ever going to find help?”

One of the most common issues that children of alcoholics struggle with is blaming themselves, or at least thinking that they could be doing more for their parent. This is especially true when the alcoholic drunkenly (and falsely) blames that child to their face. The guilt can be overwhelming for some. This is not only incredibly untrue, but unfair. No one is responsible for someone else’s drinking problem, and it is certainly not their fault.

Some children have dealt with their parent’s alcoholism since the time they were born. Others either don’t notice it until many years later, or perhaps their parent didn’t develop a drinking problem until later. This is becoming especially common as alcohol abuse is a growing problem among seniors. Luckily, no matter how old an alcoholic is, or how long they have had a drinking problem, help is out there.

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Signs of Alcoholism

Alcohol and alcohol addiction impact everyone differently. Some alcoholics exhibit many signs, while others exhibit very few (this is especially true of high-functioning alcoholics). However, some signs are common to many, if not most, alcoholics. Here are some of the most common.

  • Blackouts and memory loss
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Excusing drinking and bad behavior
  • Prioritizing drinking over other obligations
  • Isolation from friends and family members
  • Increasing difficulties at work or with finances
  • Drinking alone or secretly
  • Frequent hangovers
  • Changes in appearance, behavior, and social circle

How Do You Approach Your Parent About Their Problem?

You cannot force someone to change. You cannot make them quit drinking, or even drink less. You cannot make them go to rehab. You can’t even make them see that they have a problem. The best thing you can do is to bring to their attention the fact that you think that they have a problem.

If you are concerned that your parent may have a problem with alcoholism, you might be terrified to bring it up to them. You might fear them getting angry, yelling at you, or getting violent. You may feel they will make a scene in front of others, embarrass you, move out, or either use more or more secretly. These are all things that have happened to others, but they don’t have to happen to you. Included below are a list of guidelines that may help you improve the outcome of any conversation with your parent. Remember that unless violence is a concern, the risks of having this conversation are generally far outweighed by the potential benefits. If you are genuinely concerned about a violent reaction, however, it is best to not have the conversation alone. Always have someone with you.

  • Remember that the point of the conversation is not to convince them that they have a problem, but to let them know that you are concerned that they might.
  • Don’t initiate the conversation when your parent is intoxicated.
  • Don’t initiate the conversation when you are intoxicated.
  • Unless violence is an issue, establish a time to have the conversation on a one-on-one basis, just the two of you.
  • Start the conversation by saying that you’re doing it because you care about them.
  • Continually emphasize that you’re having this conversation because you’re concerned about their well-being.
  • Always come from the perspective of yourself, not a general perspective. “I am concerned by how much you are drinking. I have noticed that your behavior has been different. I think you are putting yourself at risk.”
  • List behaviors and incidents that you’ve observed and why they concern you.
  • If you feel it may benefit the conversation, discuss how their behaviors have impacted you and how that has hurt you.
  • Make sure the discussion is a two-way conversation so that they don’t feel cornered or get defensive. A good way to do this is to ask open-ended questions.
  • Keep on the main point. Don’t get sidetracked with speculation, judgment, or an explanation for why.
  • If the person denies there is a problem, try to get them to agree to have another conversation in the future.

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What to Do If Your Parent Refuses Help?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many options available to you for your parent if they refuse help. If you are underage and your parent’s alcoholism is causing them to physically abuse or neglect you, then you can (and probably should) report them to a family member or school or law enforcement official. You can turn to friends and family of your parent as well, to see if you can get them to help convince your parent to seek help. You can also seek out the services of a professional interventionist, medical professional, clergyperson, or other professional to help your parent see the light.

Find a treatment expert who can help you discuss treatment options for your parent.

There are, however, many options that you can take for yourself. Just because your parent is refusing or unable to change does not mean that you cannot dramatically improve your own life, emotional wellbeing, and physical health. There are many resources and support groups out there that specialize in helping the children and other family members of alcoholics. These resources and support groups can provide you with a great deal of help for yourself, including emotional support, college scholarships, help getting over grief, and tips to getting through daily life.

What Resources Are Available to Me?


Al-Anon is the largest and most well-known support group for families of alcoholics. Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon includes a 12-Step program for members to follow to help them cope with their family member’s alcoholism. Al-Anon holds regular meetings in all 50 states and in many countries around the world.


Nar-Anon is based off the the Al-Anon model, only Nar-Anon is complementary to Narcotics Anonymous. Although Nar-Anon is primarily focused on helping those whose families have been impacted by drug use, they also offer support for family members of those impacted by alcoholism.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is one of the leading alternatives to AA, and is especially popular with alcoholics that have issues with AA’s spiritual focus. While SMART recovery is focused on alcoholics, the organization also has resources for friends and family as well.


Co-Dependents Anonymous is a support group that is dedicated to helping those who struggle with co-dependent relationships, both those that have been impacted by alcohol and drug use and those who have not. Co-DA is a 12-step group where members support each other as they try to not only survive, but thrive.


Schools of all levels, from elementary schools to universities, have numerous resources available to help students cope with the substance abuse of their parents.

Mental Health Professionals

It may be beneficial for you to seek help from a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. They may be able to help you understand, cope with your feelings about, and improve your mental state over your parent’s situation and the impacts that it has had on you.

The Internet

There are hundreds of websites and organizations with websites on the Internet that are dedicated to helping the families of alcoholics. While some are significantly more helpful than others, many will be able to provide with information and resources, and many others have communities of members who can provide a great deal of support.

Get Help Now

If your parent is struggling with alcoholism or other substance abuse issues, help is out there waiting for you. Contact a treatment expert today who will help you find a rehab facility that will get your parent back on the road to recovery.

Interested in making a call and want to know what will happen after you do? Read about where your call goes.

Anyone Could be Struggling with Substance Abuse

According to the latest information collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 32 million Americans aged 12 or older were using illicit drugs in the last month. This equates to roughly 11.7 percent of people aged 12 or older. Of those who admitted to have used illicit drugs in the last month, approximately 27.6 million people used marijuana, 2.8 million people abused prescription pain relievers and 1.9 million people used cocaine. (Source)

A majority of those surveyed used drugs recreationally or for non-medical reasons, but many others used them because they were dependent on the substance or were struggling with addiction. When substance abuse begins to take over your life, the best course of action is to seek help. If you are worried about your drug use or that of a loved one, we can help you make the change. Call our National Drug Helpline now to take the first step.

Addiction is complicated, and some people are even more susceptible to addiction and dependence. The following factors may increase your likelihood of having a drug or alcohol addiction:

  • Family members and relatives who have struggled with addiction
  • An abusive, neglectful or traumatizing upbringing
  • Mental health disorders
  • Drug or alcohol use early in life

Many people from different walks of life can struggle with addiction regardless of whether or not these risk factors are prevalent in their lives. Addiction does not discriminate. Calling a substance abuse hotline for yourself or for a loved one can be a difficult decision to make. It’s not always easy admitting that you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction. Just know that addiction can happen to anyone at any point in life. Some substances have a risk of being addictive, including commonly prescribed medications and painkillers. The opiate and opioid epidemic our nation is facing is due in part to the medications and painkillers that are being prescribed to everyday people.

Also, substances such as alcohol are legal and are constantly marketed to adults. Alcohol is commonly abused due to the easy access and the lack of stigma around binge drinking and partaking in social events such as happy hours. Alcohol may be the most difficult substance addiction to diagnose due to the close ties it has to social events. Alcoholism is actually very common and over consumption could have serious adverse effects on health. If you feel that you or someone may be struggling with addiction, call our substance abuse hotline.

You Can Play a Role in Someones Addiction Recovery

Drug and alcohol addictions can affect your personal relationships and make it difficult to focus on work or school. Many people have their health, finances, relationships, careers and lives turned upside down by drug addiction. This is why a drug help hotline is such an important resource. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it may be time to get help from a drug recovery program. Calling a national drugs helpline, such as ours, is a great way to start your recovery journey. If you aren’t ready to call, you can check out some of the free resources found on the CDC’s website.

We understand that this is a difficult decision. You may have never thought that you would be calling a drug hotline, but it may be the best decision you can possibly make. A simple phone call can change a life. Our drug addiction hotline is staffed with friendly and understanding people who are here to help. We are here to talk you through anything you may be struggling with. Your call is anonymous and if you are ready to seek treatment for yourself or for a loved one, we can help you to navigate your options. We take in calls from across the nation and are dedicated to helpline anyone who may need some guidance. Addiction is difficult to beat single handedly. Give us a call today and let’s get through this together.

Addictions Can be Beaten. Start Your Recovery Journey with a Call.

When drugs are used over periods of time, the brain changes in response to prolonged exposure to those drugs. Cravings tend to get stronger and withdrawals tend to get worse. This physiological reality makes quitting very difficult for anyone. Thanks to modern day drug and alcohol treatment, there is no reason to go through the recovery process alone. These programs provide people with the support that they need to rehabilitate and can be easily accessed with a call to a drug support hotline or a national drug rehab hotline, such as ours.

Many people think that they have to reach rock bottom before they seek help. This is a common and dangerous misconception. The truth is that it is never too soon to get help. The earlier substance abusers realize they may have a problem, the better the chances of success. As time goes on, continued substance abuse may make recovery a much longer and much more difficult process. Ultimately, prevention is the best solution to addiction, but for those who are currently struggling, we are here to help.

If drugs or alcohol are causing problems in your life, or the life of a loved one, the time to get help is now. If you are concerned about the drug or alcohol use of a friend or family member, there is no reason to wait until their problem gets worse. The first step may be to call our national drug abuse hotline. Drug abuse is more common than you may think, so don’t feel like you are alone. Thousands of people across the nation struggle with drug abuse everyday. So much so that there are major government organizations, such as NIDA, dedicated to drug abuse within our nation.

We are here to help. If you want to discuss treatment options, talk about how to approach someone you love that may be struggling with addiction, talk about rehab costs and paying, or just want to talk; then give us a call today. Our drug abuse hotline number is free to call, anonymous and confidential. The journey toward recovery can start today with a simple phone call. Our phone number is found across our site, so feel free to call whenever you are ready.

Calling An Addiction Hotline

Making the call can be tough. Whether the call is for you or for a loved one, we understand that it can be one of the hardest moments of your life. We are here to talk you through your options. Whether this is your first time calling an addiction hotline, or you have gone down this path before, we are here to help. Addiction is a disease that can affect any type of person in any walk in life. Just know that you are not alone and there are others out there that are struggling with addiction as well. The stigma associated with addiction may make it difficult to talk to friends and family about substance abuse, but our addiction helpline is here so you can talk to someone. Calling and talking is a great first step to recovery. There are 0 commitments when calling. Sometimes it’s good to hear yourself talk about the substance abuse struggles that you or a loved one may be facing to help organize your thoughts and feelings. Our national addiction hotline is here to take your call.

Additional Addiction Hotlines and Phone Numbers

You can also try some of the following addiction hotline numbers:

Find Help and Recovery

There are multiple options for alcohol and drug recovery. You can find treatment programs that address specific drugs, programs that are tailored to people of different genders, programs that are faith based and many others. The diversity of treatment options available means that you can find one that fits your exact needs. If you would like to speak to someone to help better understand your options, you can call a drug rehab helpline or a drug treatment hotline, such as ours.

There are two primary options when it comes to recovery, an inpatient recovery program or an outpatient recovery program. If you decide to be admitted into an outpatient recovery program, you can simultaneously attend counseling, therapy and treatment while continuing to live your life at home. If you decide to be admitted into an inpatient program, you will have the opportunity to step away from life for a little bit, so that you can fully focus on your addiction recovery. We understand that this choice is a difficult one, but we are here to help. You can call our addiction recovery hotline to discuss the differences between inpatient and outpatient recovery.

If you have already made a decision about inpatient or outpatient rehab, but are looking for a program or facility that treats a certain type of addiction, we have a solution for you. offers the following national addiction hotline numbers for those who may be struggling.

Alcohol Helpline

Although alcohol is commonly consumed and used in social situations, it can be very addictive. Alcohol is very difficult to avoid considering wine is enjoyed with meals, champagne is used to celebrate special occasions and beer is usually around when watching the big game with friends. Thousands of people across the nation struggle with alcoholism, but they may not know it. If you or a loved one is consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, is using alcohol to self medicate or just feels dependent on it is some way; please call our national alcohol helpline. We can talk about the signs and symptoms of alcoholism to help determine if treatment is an option that may need to be considered. Our alcohol hotline can help you to organize your thoughts regarding this difficult to discuss matter. Our alcoholic helpline is here to find the right solution for you or for your loved one.

Cocaine Helpline

Cocaine is an illicit drug that can have serious long term effects on your health. Cocaine use may be difficult to talk about to friends and families due to its use being illegal. This doesn’t mean you can’t call our national cocaine hotline to get help. Our cocaine addiction helpline ensures that your information is kept private. We understand that even the smallest amount of cocaine use can lead to addiction, which is why we are here to get you the help you want. Call our cocaine addiction hotline today to speak to someone who cares and who understands the difficulties of addiction.

Ecstasy Helpline

Ecstasy use is often synonymous with the “party scene”. Although, not very physically addictive, the sense of euphoria can become addicting to the point that you feel like you need ecstasy to feel good. The comedowns are dangerous and can lead to deep levels of depression. If you or a loved one feels like ecstasy use may be affecting your life, give us a call on our dedicated ecstasy helpline. Speak to someone that can help talk you through your experiences and help you to better determine if treatment is required. Our ecstasy hotline phone number is staffed day and night to ensure that help is available when you need it.

Heroin Helpline

Heroin is an illicit drug and is very dangerous. Not only is it extremely addictive, but it can heavily impact your health. Heroin use can kill you, which is why anyone who is struggling with heroin addiction should call our heroin helpline. Our heroin hotline phone number is staffed with friendly advisors who are here to help you or a loved one battle this highly addictive substance. Our national heroin hotline is anonymous and can be called at anytime. Calling our heroin addiction hotline can save a life, so don’t wait any longer to take a step in the right direction. There are many heroin hotline numbers on the web, but is the one to call if you need to talk to anyone about heroin use.

Marijuana Helpline

Marijuana is becoming more and more prevalent in our society as the years go on. Countries across the world are beginning to legalize its use and multiple states across the nation have already legalized its use. CBD is becoming commonplace in consumer products and cannabis companies are beginning to arise. Although the use of marijuana and its effects on the human body are widely debated, the fact remains that it is abused across the world. Although, not physically addictive, the “high” associated with marijuana use can be very behaviorally addictive. Marijuana use makes people feel good, to the point that constant use may seem necessary to cope with life’s everyday situations. If this sounds like you or a loved one, give us a call on our marijuana helpline. Our marijuana hotline is here for anyone who thinks they might smoke a little too much weed.

Meth Helpline

Meth is another very addictive and controlled substance that is commonly misused. Meth, also known as methamphetamine, is actually found in many prescription drugs and medications. Although the stigma of “meth heads” exists, most people suffering from methamphetamine addiction are people you wouldn’t expect. An addiction to methamphetamine could have been an accidental one, due to using a prescription outside of its intended purposes. If you feel that you or a loved one may be abusing methamphetamine, call our meth helpline. We can help you to determine if treatment is necessary. Call our meth hotline now to speak to a caring representative.

Methadone Helpline

Although methadone is often used to treat serious narcotic addictions, it can actually be addictive itself if abused. If you are struggling with methadone addiction, or have done your research and feel like you may need methadone to treat an addiction, call our methadone hotline. Although, we are not qualified to prescribe methadone to anyone, we can match you with a hotline that can help answer questions.

Opiate Helpline

Our nations biggest crisis that continues to grow every year, opiate addiction is becoming very common. Opiate addictions are so common due to powerful prescription drugs offered in our country. Something as commonplace as the removal of wisdom teeth can lead to the prescription of a very powerful and very addictive opiate based painkiller. Opiates are found in commonly prescribed painkillers and can end up in the hands of just about anyone. The stigma of opiate use and abuse is much lower due to the fact that these medications are prescribed to us by doctors that we trust. However, continued use or abuse of opiates can lead to very powerful and very deadly addictions. If you or a loved one is suffering from this type of an addiction, please call our opiate addiction hotline. Please do not wait to call since opiate abuse can be deadly. Dial the phone number to our opiate hotline and speak to someone today.

Suboxone Helpline

Suboxone is another medication that can be used to treat narcotic addictions. Suboxone uses a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone to help treat addiction. Although it had good intentions, it can be abused. If you or a loved one needs help with Suboxone abuse, or may be seeking the use of Suboxone to treat an addiction, call our Suboxone hotline now. Our Suboxone hotline phone number is available to anyone who may have questions about the medication and its uses.

Call Our National Drug Helpline Today

Substance abuse comes in many forms as you may have seen from the list above, but we are here for you. We can talk about any substance that you or a loved one may be addicted to. We know it is difficult, but start recovery today. A simple phone call can change a life. Dial the number you see on our site to speak with someone who is here to help. Pick up the phone today and call our drug addiction hotline. We look forward to speaking with you!

Important Things to Know About our Addiction Hotline offers a national hotline that can be called if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction. Before you decide to call, you need to know the following important information about our company, site and hotline:

  • is a for profit company. We may be paid a fee for marketing or advertising by organizations that can assist with treating addictions. If you are looking for a non profit organization or just want to know what other hotlines exist, check out some of the alternatives found on our contact page or under the section “Other Support Organizations”.
  • is not associated with any government organization. We are “national” in the sense that we take calls from people across the nation. If you are looking for a government organization, try calling SAMHSA. We actually recommend that you try calling them first since they are well funded and are our nations primary substance abuse phone number. We are not associated with SAMHSA in anyway.
  • The content on is not professional medical advice and was not written by medical professionals. It should not be used as professional medical advice.
  • We started, because we realized some people don’t feel comfortable discussing illicit drug use with a government organization. We also are hoping to alleviate the overwhelming call volume that other substance abuse hotlines receive.
  • The phone number found across our site goes to one of our following partners:
    • California Rehab Campus
    • Day Light Recovery Florida
    • Northeast Addictions Treatment Center
    • Recovering Champions
    • Spring Hill Recovery Center
    • US Addictions Services
    • Recovery Helpline
    • Banyan Treatment Center
  • We have decided to work with these providers since they have been vetted as trusted resources. The safety of our site users is our number 1 concern. If you experience anything during your call that concerns you, let us know here.
  • When you call, you will be in contact with one of the above partners call centers. They are obligated to disclose who they are before speaking with you. The individuals who take these calls are not medical professionals, but they can help answer your questions about addiction treatment.
  • The phone number found on is not a crisis number. If you are experiencing a crisis or life threatening situation, call 911.

Jump To Section

  • Learn about Alcoholism
  • Intervention
  • Be Honest
  • Get Support
  • Enjoy Family Time

According to statistics provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services, there are thought to be around 17.6 million adults in the United States who suffer from alcoholism. If you are looking for information on how to help an alcoholic parent, there is a wealth advice and support available. However, there are things you can also do yourself that will help you address your parents’ drinking problem.

Learn about Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease, which produces symptoms just like any other disease or illness. Just as with most diseases, there is treatment available for alcoholics if they choose to seek it. If you truly are thinking my parents drink too much, educating yourself on alcoholism will help you understand how bad the problem is and what the next step is as far as getting your parents to consider treatment. There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding alcoholism and its effects, you can also find out more about the treatment process and what it entails.

Have they been drinking?

Expert advice on dealing with an alcoholic parent

When a parent drinks, it can affect the entire family. Whether you are a child, young person or adult, and are living with your parent, or in another home, their alcoholism may be impacting on your life.

If you are uncertain whether your parent is addicted to alcohol, we can help you to identify the signs and symptoms of a drinking problem. We will also look at how best to manage an alcoholic parent to make sure that the entire family doesn’t have to live with the effects of the addiction.

The signs of alcohol addiction

Alcohol addiction can appear differently from person to person. However, some recognisable symptoms can include the following:

  • Drinking more or for longer than originally intended
  • Being unable to cut back or stop drinking
  • Frequently having small accidents or making mistakes
  • Experiencing health problems as a result of drinking, but continuing to drink in spite of these
  • Withdrawing from financial, family and other responsibilities
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of not drinking
  • Becoming less concerned with appearance or hygiene
  • Becoming defensive in response to criticism

Some people with alcoholism may not display many symptoms. They may appear to be performing well at work and maintaining good relationships with those around them. However, as the child of an alcoholic parent, you may have seen the following:

  • They drink specific beverages, and only at certain times and in certain situations
  • They have asked you to cover up their alcoholism, such as calling in sick to work or borrowing money
  • They miss events or responsibilities as a result of drinking

If you are worried about your parent, knowing what to do can be difficult.

Dr Declan Leahy, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, explains: “Children of parents with alcohol addiction are in a unique position to be able to identify problems and support their parents through recovery, but it is just as important that they look after themselves and access the support that they might need too.

“The effects of having a parent with alcohol addiction are far-reaching and can be significant, so it is important not only to consider the parent and their recovery but also what we can do to help their family and friends.”

Below, we have outlined the steps that children, young people and adults can take when concerned about their parent, to help both themselves and the person that they care about.

Advice for children and young people with alcoholic parents

If one of your parents is addicted to alcohol, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. You may feel responsible, and believe that you are the cause of their drinking problem, but this is not the case. Alcoholism is an illness, where a doctor or medical professional may be needed to help a person to get better.

Never feel that you have to help your parent all by yourself. Speak out and talk to someone that you trust about getting support for your parent. While you may be worried about reaching out, it is important that your parent gets the help that they need.

Having an alcoholic parent can make you feel lonely, as you may feel too embarrassed to say anything. However, it is important to make the effort to join a support group and talk to someone that you trust. Don’t bottle up your feelings.

When you are worried about someone else, you can also forget to take care of yourself. However, remember that you are important and it is crucial to look after your health and wellbeing too. Plan activities that you enjoy, such as reading, watching TV or hanging out with friends.

Advice for adults with alcoholic parents

If you are looking to take steps towards addressing the alcoholism and talking to your parent, you need to be prepared for the conversation. Beforehand, think about the following:

  • Choose a time and place that is safe and private, where the person will feel comfortable
  • Try to use phrases starting with “I” rather than “you”. For example, say: “I am worried about you” or “I am concerned about the amount you’re drinking”
  • Ask open ended questions, such as: “I am worried that you are drinking more – why do you think that I’m worried?”
  • Mention specific instances or events. For example you could say: “I am concerned about the amount you are drinking when you get in from work”
  • Stick to positive language and avoid generic labels like ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict’
  • Try to keep the person relaxed during the conversation
  • Use a concerned tone rather than a disapproving one, where you speak in a kind, gentle and sympathetic way
  • Be solution-focused and positive in the way you address the next steps
  • Make it clear that you won’t facilitate their drinking, and make sure that you stick to any boundaries you put in place

Your parent may not accept that they have a problem to begin with, particularly if they think that their drinking is under control. If they deny that they have an issue with alcohol, stay upbeat and put forward some solutions. Ask them to visit their GP, contact an organisation such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or possibly try private therapy.

Dr Declan Leahy says: “Sometimes personal intervention or comments from family can have great motivational impact. However input from therapy staff can be critical in helping the individual to make and sustain the decisions that are needed for lasting change.”

If the person does decide to seek help, it is important to express your support. Call and visit when possible to show you are thinking about them and rooting for their recovery. You may also choose to attend family therapy together to help heal your relationship.

Getting support for you

If you have grown up with a parent who has suffered from alcoholism, this may have had an effect on your own emotions and mind-set.

If you feel that your life has been affected by your alcoholic parent, it is important for you to find a safe space where you feel comfortable to talk. This may be with a therapist or support group, where you can talk freely to people who understand, helping you to feel less isolated and move away from any buried feelings that you are holding on to.

How Priory can support you and your family

For someone who is ready to receive treatment for their alcohol addiction, Priory offers a free and confidential assessment, where one of our experienced therapists will be able to help your parent to recognise the treatment that is most beneficial for them.

Our experienced addictions team are also be able to help the families of people in recovery. Dedicated family support groups and family therapy sessions are available when someone that you care about is going through treatment at Priory.

How To Confront An Alcoholic In Denial

Confronting an alcoholic and getting them to come to terms with their addiction is an extremely difficult thing to do.

Alcoholics – especially high functioning alcoholics – use standard alcoholic excuses and denials to justify their addiction and avoid reality.

In many cases, confrontation with an alcoholic simply results in denial and resentment on the part of the alcoholic, as well as frustration on the part of their loved ones. But remember that your confrontation with the alcoholic could be just one step in a long process that will eventually cause them to reexamine their life and make a change down the road. Even if your attempts to help are brushed off, you may be planting the seed for eventual recovery.

Things To Keep In Mind

If it’s your first time confronting your friend/loved one about their alcoholism, keep in mind that you’re unlikely to get them to take immediate action. However, bear in mind that your confrontation with the alcoholic may still be a necessary step in getting them to eventually come to terms with their addiction – just not overnight.

Keep in mind that there are no magic bullets when it comes to getting an alcoholic to recognize their addiction. Whether you confront them aggressively, or with understanding and soothing tones, you’re unlikely to spark immediate change. With that in mind, here are some techniques you can use and things to keep in mind confronting an alcoholic:

Do not confront the alcoholic when they’re under the influence – This should go without saying.

Express your feelings – Tell the alcoholic how his/her drinking has affected you negatively, and how it may be harming others, and even themselves. Avoid criticizing their actions directly, but instead show them how their actions have caused harm.

Avoid Direct Confrontation – To keep the alcoholic from getting too defensive, place the emphasis on your own feelings and concerns, rather than telling them how they should be living. Some people favor a more aggressive approach in attempting to pierce the alcoholic’s denial and it does work sometimes, but do know that their is a good chance that the alcoholic will resent you for it, making future attempts to intervene much more difficult.

Chip Away At Their Denial – When the alcoholic inevitably denies that they have a problem, don’t expect to overcome their denial with the blunt hammer of rationality. Instead, aim to open up a dialogue by expressing your concerns and addressing their excuses from a place of compassion, rather than judgment.

Put Boundaries On Your Relationship – If the alcoholic in your life is continually unwilling to get help and continues to abuse alcohol despite your efforts, you may need to set clear boundaries on your relationship. For example, tell them that you cannot spend time with them when they’re drinking, or perhaps even tell them you need a break from them until they’re willing to seek help (this can apply to friendships as well as romantic relationships).

Explain that you care about them and want to help, but that their drinking is having too much of a negative toll on your life. In the short term, this will likely lead to resentment, but in the long term it may lead to the alcoholic recognizing the impact of their drinking on those around them. It also helps protect you from the toll of having a chronic alcoholic in your life.

Consider A Formal Intervention – A formal intervention should be a last resort. If the person is still a high functioning alcoholic in the early stages of addiction, gathering friends and family for a surprise confrontation will only cause anger and resentment. Alcoholics never quit drinking when the going is still good.

On the other hand, if the addict has been tormented by addiction for awhile – if they’ve lost loved ones, friends, their job – perhaps they’re close to making a major change. A formal intervention might be something they need. You can seek the assistance of a professional interventionist to assist in the process.

Recognize That You Play A Small, But Potentially Important Role

These are just some techniques that can be used to confront an alcoholic. They might not be suited for everyone. It depends on the person, your relationship with them, and the stage of their addiction.

The most important thing when confronting an alcoholic is to manage your expectations. Don’t expect to get them to change overnight. But even if you don’t get the alcoholic to recognize their problem immediately, know that your actions, words and support may take them one step closer to recognizing their addiction and seeking help.

At the end of the day, the only person who can get through an alcoholic’s denial, is the alcoholic themself.

If an alcoholic is unwilling to get help, what can you do about it?

Don’t cover for them. Family members often make excuses to others or try to protect the alcoholic from the results of his or her drinking. It is important to stop covering for the alcoholic so that he or she experiences the full consequences of drinking.

Time your intervention. The best time to talk to the drinker is shortly after an alcohol-related problem has occurred—like a serious family argument or an accident. Choose a time when he or she is sober, both of you are fairly calm, and you have a chance to talk in private.

Be specific. Tell the family member that you are worried about his or her drinking. Use examples of the ways in which the drinking has caused problems, including the most recent incident.

State the results. Explain to the drinker what you will do if he or she doesn’t go for help—not to punish the drinker, but to protect yourself from his or her problems. What you say may range from refusing to go with the person to any social activity where alcohol will be served, to moving out of the house. Do not say anything you are not prepared to carry out.

Get help. Gather information in advance about treatment options in your community. If the person is willing to get help, call immediately for an appointment with a treatment counselor. Offer to go with the family member on the first visit to a treatment program and/or an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Call on a friend. If the family member still refuses to get help, ask a friend to call, and use the steps just described. A friend who is a recovering alcoholic may be particularly persuasive, but any person who is caring and nonjudgmental may help. The intervention of more than one person, more than one time, is often necessary to coax an alcoholic to seek help.

Find strength in numbers. With the help of a health care professional, some families join with other relatives and friends to confront an alcoholic as a group. This approach should only be tried under the guidance of a health care professional who is experienced in this kind of group intervention.

Get support. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Support groups offered in most communities include Al-Anon, which holds regular meetings for spouses and other significant adults in an alcoholic’s life, and Alateen, which is geared to children of alcoholics. These groups help family members understand that they are not responsible for an alcoholic’s drinking and that they need to take steps to take care of themselves, regardless of whether the alcoholic family member chooses to get help.


66 Shares By The Recovery Village Editor Renee Deveney Reviewer Eric Patterson Updated on09/13/19

Seeing alcohol or other drugs consume the life of someone you love is an awful experience Whether you’re struggling with addiction yourself or watching from the sidelines, alcoholism is a complicated and difficult disease to bear. In many situations, you may lose hope and believe that the addiction will ever end.

As someone who cares for the addicted person, you may have some level of control and influence over their life. You cannot save them, but you can help assist and guide them on their path to recovery. Here’s how to help a person with an alcohol use disorder acknowledge their problem and find success in recovery.

When is it Time to Say Something?

Society has many preconceived notions about recovery and how to help those struggling with addiction. People may think:

  • You have to wait for them to hit rock bottom
  • They have to really want to recover
  • You can’t force someone into recovery

The reality is that people can find great success in recovery programs even if they didn’t initially want it or they never “hit rock bottom.” When the negative effects of alcoholism become clear in the person’s life, treatment can work.

The health problems associated with heavy drinking are nothing to be trifled with and the sooner the habit can be stopped, the better off the person will be. Waiting too long to say something to your loved one only adds more pressure as the situation worsens. Rather than thinking about finding the “right time” to say something, think about having occasional conversations with the person.

Stating your feelings of worry or frustration more often will prevent the person from feeling ambushed by your concerns and can maintain an open dialogue on the topic. It is never too early or too late to say something.

How to Confront a Person in Denial

Talking to someone his or her addiction to alcohol is a delicate conversation. When planning the discussion, here are three key elements to consider.

Approach with Care

Before confronting your loved one, it’s important to do an attitude check. As frustrated as you may be, you have to remember where they’re coming from. An alcohol addiction is a complex issue and often accompanies other mental health problems such as depression. Negative talk about their failures may only drive them away further. Instead, focus on expressing your love and concern. Let them know you’re there to support them and that you care deeply about their well-being.

Discover Treatment Options

If they’re unmotivated to confront their addiction, it may be up to you to explore treatment options for them. Alcohol recovery frequently begins with a detox to allow the body to remove all alcohol from the system safely. If someone has been a heavy drinker for a long time, the withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. It’s best to work with a doctor or rehab center that will be able to monitor the individual’s health during detox. Being knowledgeable about treatment options and being prepared with suggestions for them to explore on their own may help the overall conversation be more productive.

Hold an Intervention

An intervention is often a last-ditch effort for the alcoholic who refuses to acknowledge or deal with their problem. The individual’s closest friends and family will gather together in an attempt to persuade them to get help.

The thought of holding an intervention can be scary. What if the person reacts in anger, and the relationship is broken down further? While this is a possibility, don’t let it be your focus. Instead, let that fear help you put extra care into the planning.

Interventions can be effective when approached correctly. It’s a good idea to work with a doctor, counselor, or therapist who specializes in or has experience with interventions to help you prepare for or even facilitate the conversation. You can learn more in our Intervention Handbook.

Understanding Your Role

It can be easy to get emotionally swept up in the chaos of your loved one’s addiction. Try to keep in mind where you fit into the process of recovery and remember to take care of yourself as well.

Take a Step Back

As you help your friend or family member through the stages of alcohol recovery, it’s important to remember one thing: You cannot save them. That is not your job. You can encourage and support them, but ultimately, they must take ownership of their actions and choices.

Don’t feel guilty

No matter what led them into addiction, it’s not your fault. They made their own choices. You are not responsible for their behavior.

Educate Yourself

If a life is affected by alcohol, it is essential for one to learn about alcoholism, physical dependence and substance use disorders. And since you’re reading this, you’re already headed in the right direction. Read all you can about alcoholism and share that knowledge with other friends and family members.

Our Friends & Family Portal is a great place to start for more articles and information about addiction, recovery and resources for you and your loved one.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, recognize that you don’t always have to be in the trenches with them. It’s okay to distance yourself when necessary and offer support from a distance. About one in five Americans have experience with a relative addicted to alcohol, and it can be a confusing and intensely stressful time. Many view addiction as a family disease because of the direct damage it can have on the family structure.

Consider speaking to a counselor or therapist to help you process your own thoughts and feelings about the situation. Alcoholism can be painful for everyone involved and it’s okay to reach out for support. You can also consider attending support group meetings, like Al-Anon or Families Anonymous. These meetings serve as support networks for family and friends who are dealing with a loved one’s alcoholism.

When Helping Hurts

Alcoholism can cause high emotions not only in the person abusing the substance but in his or her friends and family as well. However, some interactions can be very damaging and even enable the individual to continue their addiction. Here are some behaviors to look out for.

Keep Emotions in Check

Watching a loved one hurt themselves is a powerless feeling. However, when talking to the individual, do not let your personal pain drive the conversation. Emotional appeals that center around how much they’ve hurt you can increase their own negative feelings, potentially increasing their desire to drink and escape the overwhelming emotions.

Don’t Cover for Them

They must take responsibility for their own actions. Taking actions like making excuses to their boss or teacher, doing their work for them or covering their bills only helps them continue their addiction. Unless it’s a life-threatening situation, never lend money to someone with alcoholism.

Choose Your Battles

Lecturing them every time they come home intoxicated can turn your words into background noise. Wait until they’re able to have a rational conversation before confronting them.

Never Drink with Them

Sometimes, it might feel right to drink with them. Maybe they “just need this right now” or you feel the need to meet them where they are. But no matter what, do not drink with them. This will only encourage and normalize their behavior.

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

At The Recovery Village, we offer our patients support through a full spectrum of care. From the first day in detox through experiencing a new life in aftercare, we’re here to guide you through the difficult and rewarding process of recovery. Learn about our treatment programs and how we can help your loved one get a fresh start.

  • Sources

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “Alcohol Use in Families.” December 2011. Accessed June 10, 2019.

    Kimmel, Ryan J. “Helping a Loved One With a Drinking Problem.” MedlinePlus, July 8, 2018. Accessed June 10, 2019.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses.” August 2018. Accessed June 10, 2019.

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” October 2015. Accessed June 10, 2019.


20 Ways To Help An Alcoholic Heal And Live Once More

The media is full of reports on how alcohol harms health and wrecks lives and potential. You read such stories every day. Unfortunately, these articles are “hitting too close to home,” because you are now seeing a loved one spiraling downward with his or her alcohol use issues. You are worried about his or her health. You are upset because you are witnessing precious talent being wasted. You are sad because your loved one is burning bridges with friends and family members and gradually retreating into a dark, murky, and lonely world. At AddictionResource, we understand this dilemma, which is why we’re publishing this article full of tips on how to help an alcoholic, especially one who doesn’t accept that he or she needs help.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction alcoholism statistics, more than 16 million American adults have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). But this particular article is not about them, or for them. This article is about and for YOU – the parent, the partner, the sibling, the adult child, or the friend of one of these millions of people who have an alcohol use disorder or are alcoholics. It contains some time-tested strategies for how to help someone with a drinking problem.
The 20 tips we pass along in this short How To Help Someone Stop Drinking Guide are not aimed at professional counselors or therapists, although these people can learn from them, too. Instead, these tips are aimed at YOU, an everyday person who is trying to help an alcoholic friend, or figure out how to help an alcoholic spouse, and thus provide help for alcoholics who don’t want help.

NOW is the time for you to reach out and help him or her heal. NOW is the time to offer your support, understanding, and compassion, so he or she can start to LIVE once more.

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Table of Contents

  • Discourage Drinking Behavior
  • Start With Your Mindset
  • How To Handle A Confrontation With An Alcoholic
  • How To Take Care Of Yourself While Doing This

Discourage Drinking Behavior

This first set of tips should be a “no-brainer,” but often isn’t. One of the biggest challenges of how to get someone to stop drinking is curtailing your activities that subtly encourage that person to keep drinking.

Often a family member or a close friend unknowingly becomes an enabler to an addict or someone who abuses alcohol. An enabler is a person who unwittingly creates opportunities so that a loved one can indulge in their addiction. Of course, their intention is not to fuel the addictive tendencies, but many people don’t realize that their seemingly harmless actions can backfire.
So to start, here’s a guide on what NOT to do to help an alcoholic:

DON’T cover up for them

When you cover up or make excuses for an alcoholic’s behavior, you unknowingly give them the idea that you approve of what they’re doing, or “have their back” when it comes to their unacceptable habits and actions. Besides, covering up is often an indication that you are probably in denial about your loved one’s alcoholism.

DON’T bail them out from jail

There are countless examples of an addict deciding to seek help in quitting alcohol after hitting rock bottom and realizing what a mess his or her life is in. So if he or she lands up in jail on DUI charges or for indulging in alcohol-related crimes, don’t bail them out. Let them realize how alcohol has taken over their lives and the hazards of the slippery slope they are hurtling down. This can be one of the hardest parts of how to help alcoholic friends or family, but it’s an essential one.

DON’T take over their responsibilities

When you take over an alcoholic’s duties, you permit them to pursue their addiction. They get the idea that you approve of their habits and that it is okay to carry on as they currently are. Don’t shield an alcoholic from the consequences of not carrying out his or her work, school, or family duties. Let them face the music, so they realize how alcohol is damaging their lives and relationships.

DON’T loan them money unless they have landed in a hospital

Alcoholism is an expensive habit to sustain. So the need for funds to maintain the addiction is always present. As sad as it may sound, an alcoholic will stoop to lying to obtain funds from you. They will invent lies like having to pay the rent (while probably spending their nights in bars and their days sleeping on park benches) or to buy groceries (when in reality they couldn’t care less about preparing and eating nutritious meals) to obtain money from you. If you are sure that a loved one is an alcoholic, DON’T loan him or her money unless he or she has landed in a hospital or recovery facility and needs funds to undergo some treatment.

DON’T take part in drinking sessions with an alcoholic friend or family member

Probably the number one tip on how to get an alcoholic to stop drinking is DON’T GO OUT DRINKING WITH THEM. When you take part in these drinking sessions, you encourage his or her habit. It doesn’t matter if you drink just a tiny bit of alcohol or even a Coca-Cola. An alcoholic will interpret your very participation in the drinking session as an endorsement of his or her addiction, a message that it’s OK.

Start With Your Mindset

Someone who has an alcohol use disorder is most likely to be in a denial mode. You won’t easily get him or her to accept that there is a problem, let alone work on solving it. On the other hand, someone who is an alcoholic doesn’t care about how he or she “should be” living and functioning.

He or she just live from one drink to another.
This leaves just YOU to save a life.
How to make someone stop drinking? YOU are the only person who can make your child, partner, friend, parent, or sibling realize how they are destroying their lives.
How to support an alcoholic? YOU are the only person who can persuade your friend or a family member to accept the help that is just a call away.
These won’t be easy tasks to pull off. So make sure you approach the job with the right mindset.

Educate yourself on the nature of substance abuse or addiction

Knowledge is power. The more you learn about the nature of alcohol abuse and addiction, their neurological roots, and how alcohol works on the mind and psyche of a person who abuses alcohol, the more you can empathize with your loved one and understand what he or she is going through.

Be compassionate

Addiction is not a moral flaw. It is the result of a complex interplay between genes, hormones, and the environment. When you get the facts straight, you can be compassionate when you confront a loved one who is an alcoholic. Don’t take the moral high ground and make him or her feel like a loser. On the contrary, displaying compassion and understanding can encourage an alcoholic to confide in you about the stresses that may have made him or her seek refuge in drinking. Don’t blame yourself for somebody else’s drinking habits.
You can’t work on his or her genes. You can’t alter the way he or she reacts to the addiction triggers present in the environment. You are not responsible for a person choosing to carry on drinking or not seeking help. In fact, the more you blame yourself, the more stressed you can become. What is more, your loved one can manipulate you and work on your feelings of guilt to extract money out of you.

Decide beforehand what you want to say during the confrontation

Here’s when knowledge again comes into play. You may want to tell a loved one how alcohol is harming his or her physical and mental health. Or you may want to make him or her realize that addiction is just another disorder like diabetes or cancer that needs medical treatment.

Whatever you want to say during the confrontation, it helps if you plan. This ensures you can come up with the most persuasive statement. Preparation lets you go over what you want to say during the confrontation and ensure that you speak only from a place of compassion.

Adjust your expectations

Do not stress by expecting results right after the first meeting. Do not expect an alcoholic to call in on an addiction counselor or visit a rehab clinic right after talking with you.

Instead, believe that by confronting your alcoholic loved one, you are opening the channels of communication. You are giving him or her the chance to mull over the problem and feel motivated to quit alcohol. By showing that you care, you are assuring the person that you have only his or her best interests in mind. So in a later meeting, he or she will be more receptive to your suggestions.

How To Handle A Confrontation With An Alcoholic

Confronting an alcoholic is challenging. One thoughtless comment can send the person back to his or her world of demons and darkness. One misplaced remark can close the doors of communication forever. It is up to you to steer the confrontation, so you can persuade him or her to seek professional help to give up alcohol.

Is confronting an alcoholic risky?
Confronting an alcoholic can be very risky if the confrontation is not adequately planned and prepared. One thoughtless comment can make the situation more difficult to handle. It will be harder to persuade the person to give up alcohol and seek professional help.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when you confront an alcoholic to ensure the interaction is healthy, and the outcome is favorable:

Choose a time when he or she is sober

The presence of alcohol in the system clouds thoughts and makes a person unable to think straight. So confronting an alcoholic when he or she is drunk is not a good idea. He or she will not be able to appreciate your motivations. Nor will the person be able to figure out what is right for him or her.

Don’t blame him or her

Do not turn the meeting into a blame game. If you are trying to help an alcoholic husband, don’t accuse him or her of being selfish. Same if you are trying to help an alcoholic wife, sibling, or adult child. Think for a moment. Would you blame someone for catching an infection or having cancer?

Hark back to what you learned about addiction and how quickly abuse turns into an addiction and be compassionate. Blaming an alcoholic will make him or her feel bitter and distraught. He or she might even drink more to quell the surge of negative emotions.

Let an alcoholic know how his or her actions are affecting you and the relationship you both share

Don’t use the accusatory “you” tone when you converse with an alcoholic. Instead, steer the conversation towards yourself. This will make the other person more comfortable and more willing to hear you out.

Explain to the person how his or her habits have affected you – the mental and emotional stress you are going through and the additional physical and economic burden that you have had to take on. Explain how his or her drinking habits have strained the relationship you share. If you are trying to help an alcoholic family member, gently point out how often he is not home or how she hardly cares about spending time with you or the kids.

Often alcoholics are swayed more by the effects of their addiction on their loved ones than those effects on their health or jobs.

Don’t fall for his or her promises to turn over a new leaf

A conversation about one’s drinking habits is uncomfortable, especially if the person is in denial mode. An addict might want to wiggle out of the conversation by (falsely) promising that he or she will give up alcohol. High-functioning alcoholics especially are known to be master manipulators.

Don’t fall for such promises, and instead leave them to their own devices. A good rule of thumb is “Listen to what they say, but watch what they DO.” Make sure that you follow up and are prepared to confront them once more if they don’t stick to their promises.

Keep Calm

A confrontation with an alcoholic can turn into a stressful situation for you too. An alcoholic might blame you for his or her addiction or suggest that you are blowing the situation out of proportion.

During a confrontation, you might be upset or hurt. He or she may push your buttons. But DON’T react. Always try to keep in mind where the other person is coming from.

If an alcoholic is in a denial mode, he or she will have constructed rational-sounding reasons why they think you are over-reacting.

Also, remember that an alcoholic is someone who is physically dependent on alcohol; he or she has to drink to relax, to steady the nerves, and to feel that life is under control. For alcoholics, quitting alcohol means losing a companion or a refuge, not to mention having to go through several unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can make their lives feel like they are living in hell. It is no wonder that most alcoholics react aggressively at the mere suggestion that they stop drinking.

Be calm. Remember what you are doing – trying to help someone with an alcohol problem. Don’t make an alcoholic more aloof or hostile by spewing angry words yourself. You risk making him or her angry enough to walk away. If that happens, you may never be able to broach the subject with them again. Besides, if you are calm, the person in front of you may eventually calm down himself or herself, and then you will have succeeded in creating another window of opportunity to make your point.

Be prepared to seek the help of a professional interventionist

You can only try. After all, you are dealing with a human being. There is no formula to how his or her mind works. He or she may react to the same situation in different ways, depending on factors that can be as diverse and incomprehensible to you as to how their day went or when he or she had their last drink.

As someone you love and care for, it can be difficult for you to be firm or objective with him or her. As a result, you may not succeed in persuading your alcoholic friend or family member to seek professional help. Worse, you may even put him or her off from having another meaningful conversation on the subject forever. If things come to such a passé, don’t hesitate to call a professional interventionist.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, an intervention is an educational session moderated by a professional and attended by the alcoholic and his or her family members and friends. During the meeting, the interventionist tries to make the alcoholic see the reality of his or her situation and make the person comprehend the consequences of carrying on drinking. An interventionist can make an alcoholic agree to embrace change and accept help.

How Can A Professional Interventionist Help An Alcoholic? The interventionist will try to make an alcoholic see the consequences of his drinking habits and make him agree to undergo treatment. An intervention session with a professional must be attended by the alcoholic and his friends or family members.

Take Care Of Yourself

As astounding as it sounds, this is something that most people don’t pay attention to, and it can end up ruining their lives. How can you help someone else if you are yourself broken, and your life is in shambles?

The following four tips are even more critical if you are trying to help an alcoholic family member. Having an alcoholic in your life is stressful. It is imperative that YOU remain sane, safe, and healthy yourself to help your loved one tide through his or her problems. Here’s how you must take care of yourself:

Put boundaries on your relationship, or escape, if need be

If all means of persuasion fail, you have to put limitations on your relationship. It may sound harsh. You may wonder if you are doing the right thing by cutting ties. But sometimes people need a shake-up to change the status quo. Putting boundaries on your relationship might be the “reality check” that your alcoholic loved one needs to come to his or her senses and realize how alcohol has taken a toll on multiple lives.

Now here’s a reality check for you as well. No matter how much committed you are to helping a loved one overcome alcohol addiction, you HAVE to quit if the situation turns violent. Alcohol depresses inhibitions and clouds the senses, so alcoholics can become aggressive and turn violent if they sense a threat from you.

ESCAPE, if you feel you are in danger of being physically harmed (or have been damaged) by your alcoholic family member. You must be safe before you attempt to help a loved one.

Don’t become co-dependent

Don’t get so immersed in the process of supporting an alcoholic loved one that you find yourself being dragged along the dark path that he or she is traveling on. This is NOT one of the ways to help an alcoholic.

Counseling an alcoholic is an emotional rollercoaster ride where you, too, have to confront the loved one’s inner demons and come face-to-face with hidden waves of emotions – rage, jealousy, or hatred – that you never knew existed. It is difficult to stay sane if you are not objective.

Avoid being dragged into a co-dependent relationship in which you can no longer remain logical and can’t see the half-truths and distorted versions of reality coming from your loved one for what they are. If you sense this happening, back off and let a professional counsel your loved one. You should also seek professional help to resolve any co-dependency issue that you might have developed.

Don’t drink yourself as a means to escape the stress

Living with an alcoholic can be immensely stressful for you. Again, it may seem like a “no-brainer,” but one of the ways NOT to stop someone from drinking is to succumb to pressure and start drinking yourself.

An alcoholic spends money and upsets the domestic budget, and you have to worry about making ends meet. An alcoholic neglects his or her duties, and you feel compelled to forego your leisure to step in and take over. An alcoholic chooses alcohol over you and the relationship you share, and you wonder if it is the end of the road for both of you.

The stress can get to anyone, but DON’T drink to escape your woes. Find a healthy way to cope. Remember, you have to be strong yourself to help the person you love to heal.

Seek emotional support to help you get through the stress

You have taken on the challenge of helping a loved one become sober. It was always going to be a stiff task. Don’t get bogged down by the stress and strain; seek emotional support from people who had been in the same place as you are now.

Often one of the best answers to the question of “How do you help an alcoholic? Is to get some help yourself. If there is no one you know personally to help, join a 12-step program such as Al-Anon, one that is designed specifically to help the friends and family members of alcoholics.

Having someone to confide in about what you are going through, a shoulder to cry on, and a sounding board to run your decisions by will take a load off your mind and lift some of the heaviness from your heart.

Caring enough to go through the anguish, anxiety, doubts, and turmoil of helping an alcoholic heal is the greatest help you can offer someone who is broken. The journey always starts with you. You have to be enlightened, empathetic, compassionate, and strong. You have to be a master strategist, astute planner, and thorough executioner. Of course, you cannot be a professional counselor or therapist to an alcoholic yourself, but you have to pull off something equally challenging – getting him or her to seek professional help in the first place.

Kudos to you for choosing to care!

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    9 Suggestions For Confronting An Alcoholic

    7. Offer detox support.
    If the alcoholic agrees to enter rehab, family members should provide support and encouragement during the detoxification phase and rehabilitation program, which involves patient and family education. It can last anywhere from several days to several months. Most programs last 28 days or less, given the person’s job and family responsibilities; some of the participants can continue as non-residents while resuming career and household duties. However the program plays out, love, acceptance and willingness to support changes in lifestyle can go a long way toward helping the alcoholic become successful.
    8. Be willing to change.
    As mentioned briefly above, family members living with an alcoholic must be willing to take responsibility for their behavior and make necessary changes, too. Adjustments might include refusing to cover for an alcoholic’s inability to go to work by reporting him absent, paying bills that the drinker should pay when he has spent his paycheck for alcoholic beverages, and letting the alcoholic abuse or terrorize the family by acts of recklessness or violence. Sobriety can actually make life harder for the drinker and his family as everyone adjusts to new rules and learns how to follow through consistently. Some ex-drinkers can be ill-tempered, demanding and peevish, while others may act guilty, embarrassed or repentant.
    9. Continue seeking Al-Anon support.
    After confronting an alcoholic, results may not appear automatically. The drinker may vacillate between agreeing to rehab and resisting it, or he may enter rehab but leave early or fall off the wagon after completing the program. Nothing is guaranteed. After confronting an alcoholic, all you can do is continue to hold your line and wait for the drinker’s response. That alone will determine the outcome of your intervention. If the drinker opts not to continue treatment or it proves unsuccessful, the family should continue to receive counseling and support as they make decisions about the future.
    Living with an alcoholic is one of the hardest things to do. Their uncontrolled drinking causes problems that can affect family members and others. It can be difficult for relatives to dissociate themselves from the drinker and establish effective boundaries between his behavior and theirs to avoid unhealthy enmeshment. But with education, professional support and courageous conviction, family members can learn to practice tough love when confronting an alcoholic, to give that person a fair shot at recovery. An intervention may be the first step toward acknowledging a problem and doing something about it that can make a positive difference in the lives of a problem drinker and his loved ones.
    Do You Drink Too Much?
    The one or two glasses of wine you drink at the occasional meal when you dine out are no big deal, but what about the standard two glasses of wine you have with every dinner? Could this love of Chardonnay mean that you drink too much? Many people wonder the same thing – whether or not their drinking habits are over the top. To find out if your drinking habits are out of control, answer these questions honestly in this drinking quiz.

    How to Help Someone with an Alcohol Addiction

    Step 1. Learn about alcohol use disorder

    Before you do anything, it’s important to know whether your friend or loved one has an alcohol addiction. Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, is more than just drinking too much from time to time. Sometimes alcohol as coping mechanism or social habit may look like alcoholism, but it’s not the same. People with alcohol use disorder don’t drink in moderation, even if they say they’re only having one drink. To learn more, read about alcoholism and its symptoms.

    There are also government and program websites for further resources and information on helping someone with an alcohol addiction. Explore them to learn more about the addiction and experience:

  • Al-Anon
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Step 2. Practice what you’re going to say

Let the person you care for know that you’re available and that you care. Try to formulate statements that are positive and supportive. Avoid being negative, hurtful, or presumptuous.

Using “I” statements reduces accusation and lets you be an active participant in the discussion. It may be helpful to bring up a specific concern. You may mention when alcohol caused an unwanted effect, such as violent behavior or economic problems. Rather than saying, “You’re an alcoholic — you need to get help now,” you can say, “I love you and you’re very important to me. I’m concerned about how much you’re drinking, and it may be harming your health.”

Prepare yourself for every response. No matter the reaction, you should stay calm and assure your person that they have your respect and support.

Step 3: Pick the right time and place

Choose the right time to have this important conversation. Have the conversation in a place where you know you’ll have quiet and privacy. You’ll also want to avoid any interruptions so that you both have each other’s full attention. Make sure your person is not upset or preoccupied with other issues. Most importantly, the person should be sober.

Step 4: Approach and listen with honesty and compassion

If the person does have an alcohol problem, the best thing you can do is be open and honest with them about it. Hoping the person will get better on their own won’t change the situation.

Tell your loved one that you’re worried they’re drinking too much, and let them know you want to be supportive. Be prepared to face a negative reaction. Try to roll with any resistance to your suggestions. The person may be in denial, and they may even react angrily to your attempts. Do not take it personally. Give them time and space to make an honest decision, and listen to what they have to say.

Step 5: Offer your support

Realize that you can’t force someone who doesn’t want to go into treatment. All you can do is offer your help. It’s up to them to decide if they’ll take it. Be nonjudgmental, empathetic, and sincere. Imagine yourself in the same situation and what your reaction might be.

Your friend or loved one may also vow to cut back on their own. However, actions are more important than words. Urge the person to get into a formal treatment program. Ask for concrete commitments and then follow up on them.

You may also want to see if other family members and friends want to be involved. This can depend on several factors, such as how serious the situation is or how private the person may be.

Step 6: Intervene

Approaching someone to discuss your concerns is different from an intervention. An intervention is more involved. It involves planning, giving consequences, sharing, and presenting a treatment option.

An intervention may be the course of action if the person is very resistant to getting help. During this process, friends, family members, and co-workers get together to confront the person and urge them into treatment. Interventions are often done with the help of a professional counselor. A professional therapist can:

  • give advice on how to get the person into treatment
  • explain what treatment options there are
  • find programs in your area

Some agencies and organizations offer treatments at no cost.

How to plan an intervention for someone with alcoholism “

How to Talk to Your Alcoholic Partner

One of the many things that addiction takes away is the ability to communicate honestly and directly. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to begin with.

But intermarital communication can be even more of a minefield because of the hurt and anger and plain chaos wrought by addiction. Also, in most cases each partner grew up in a family where basic truths — the elephants in the room — were not okay to talk about, or where addiction’s tyranny meant that hurts and fears were ignored or ridiculed.

In other words, if you are now in a relationship with an actively addicted partner, or close to someone who is, try not to judge too harshly. Judgment just keeps the relational wheels locked in place. It’s not that those of us in such a situation are cowardly or weak, it’s just that we are most likely following an unconscious order (instilled in us from the beginning) to protect the status quo, even when that status quo brings misery and loneliness.

I thought I’d offer a suggestion for people who feel stuck or trapped in an alcoholic marriage, who may want to communicate how they’re feeling, even though doing so might be scary or uncomfortable. Unfortunately, if you’re interested in change — even baby steps — some discomfort is inevitable. Of course, one could argue you’re already uncomfortable, so why not be uncomfortable and at least speak the truth? Usually in taking a new action step, however small, there’s discomfort, then a shaky “was that okay for me to do?” feeling, followed by — over time, with repetition — a reconnection or repair to one’s own self-esteem and integrity.

The two rules of thumb here are: keep it simple and tell the truth. It’s so simple and pared down that it takes practice. (There’s no shame in practicing with a close friend, or in front of the mirror. This isn’t crazy; in fact, doing this takes great courage and is probably going against your early developmental “software.”)

Here’s what I mean by “keep it simple:” Imagine you’re the partner of an alcoholic who comes home late, drunk, wakes up the kids (who start crying) and then wants to argue about how you’re a lousy partner, unsupportive and all sorts of other stuff that all relates to your partner’s insecurity but is angry-making and hurtful nonetheless. You’re left feeling shaken, hurt and royally ticked off.

The next morning, your partner staggers out of bed and sits, hungover, at the breakfast table. This may or may not be the time to do this; you’ll have to gauge. (And the idea is communicating, not “getting even” when he or she’s hungover.) Whatever you do, don’t engage when he or she is still drunk. It’s just wasted energy, your partner is tanked and won’t remember anyway; it’s like shouting at the wind. Your best bet is to wait until your partner is sober enough to listen, so that you can sit down and say as calmly as possible, “I want to say something, and please just hear me out.”

This probably sounds like a very tall order, but any empathy you can scrape up (and this can be tough) will help; try to remember your partner is most likely (inwardly) frightened, ashamed and psychologically lost at sea. I think the idea you want to embody is, alcoholism is your (plural) enemy. Empathy and compassion for yourself is good too: Both of you are being held hostage by a demon.

You might say something, as calmly as possible, like: “You came home drunk last night. You woke up the kids and started yelling at me.”

The reaction might be defensive, or silence, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. This is not a conversation, at least initially. This is you making a point of what happened and how you feel about it. You might try, “Wait, just hear me out.” Or, “Please just listen. This is hard to say and I need to get it out.”

Here’s the second part regarding telling your emotional truth: “You really scared me last night.” Or, “It really hurts me when you act like that. You say such mean things when you drink.”

Stop and let it sink in a moment. You might try, “You woke the kids and freaked them out. I’m worried about how it’s affecting them, and our relationship. You’re not a nice person when you drink.” Or, “I can’t live like this. It has to stop. I miss the person I married. What can we do?”

The anxiety, fear and pressure of a moment like this might lead to one or both of you saying, or at least thinking, “Is the relationship over if it doesn’t stop?” Or, “Is this a line in the sand, ‘stop or else’?” I would encourage you not to go there for now.

First, try a period of non-dramatic but honest communication about the emotional effect of the addiction or alcoholism. The idea is to soften armor and defensiveness so that both of you can really understand the toxic effect of the addiction on your relationship. Justified though you may be, going into a conversation “loaded for bear” isn’t going to work. You’ll just be met with defensiveness and counterattacks, increasing loneliness and frustration on both sides. It can help to vent your frustration to a friend or counselor first, then try this approach.

The frequency of your partner’s alcoholic “episodes” are irrelevant. Whether daily, weekly or monthly, it is still disruptive and causes suffering. That’s enough to warrant this kind of exchange. (Obviously, if you or your children are in danger of being harmed, a plan for getting everyone out of the house — to a friend’s or relative’s for the night, or to a shelter, if need be — clearly is in order.)

No matter what your partner says — even if grand promises to stop come gushing forth — try to avoid a conclusive “plan.” Sometimes such promises are made as a way of stopping a painful conversation. Let it sink in first. Grandiose promises are just as empty as stony deflection. Your partner may say, “Well, I’ll stop if you stop nagging me.” You can always say, again, “Please hear me out first, and let’s talk later.” Cooler heads usually lead to more balanced assessments.

Don’t list previous similar incidents. Keep it simple and non-dramatic with a line like, “This isn’t the first time.” Or, “It keeps happening and needs to stop.” Less is more.

Don’t rush coming up with an action plan. An “action plan” has the best chance of succeeding after some reflection and discussion has occurred. Until then, stand in your truth. Support yourself for being honest, as you would a good friend or one of your kids standing up to a bully. Because alcoholism is a bully, no doubt, and malevolent. As they say in recovery, “it prefers death but will settle for misery.” One thing it hates is quiet, honest emotional truth. It loves drama, screaming, curses and threats. But to paraphrase Marlon Brando, “Powerful people don’t have to shout.”

You’re scared, you’re hurt, you’re completely overwhelmed — and you know it’s not right, and it’s not who your partner is at heart. That’s enough of a start.

How to Talk to Your Alcoholic Partner

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