How to Help a Loved One with a Drinking Problem
If a loved one or family member appears to be struggling with a drinking problem, you might be nervous about approaching them about it. You might feel as if you have no idea how to start the conversation, how to help them find professional help, or how to support them through their alcohol addiction and recovery journey. If any of this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place.
In this post, we will go over expert tips for how to help loved ones struggling with alcohol abuse. If you’d like to speak with an addiction specialist to discuss treatment options and how to best approach a loved one dealing with an alcohol use disorder, reach out to Zinnia Healing today at (855) 430-9439.
How Do I Know if My Loved One Has a Drinking Problem?
It can be hard to tell whether someone has an alcohol use disorder or if they enjoy cocktails now and then. You certainly don’t want to approach a family member and accuse them of being an alcoholic if they are enjoying a glass of wine at a family gathering every time you see them. Instead, here are signs to look out for that your loved one may be struggling with alcohol dependence:
- A pattern of binge drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is drinking that raises the blood alcohol level to 0.08 or higher in two hours or less.
- Failed attempts to stop drinking.
- Continued use of alcohol despite the havoc it’s wreaking on their personal life, relationships, and employment.
- Sneaking alcohol or hiding the fact that they have been drinking.
- Lying about their drinking habits.
- Constantly smelling like alcohol.
- Consuming alcohol during unsafe conditions, like when driving or watching their children.
- Drinking during any free time, such as over a lunch break, before work in the morning, or as soon as they get home at night.
- Increased family conflict due to their alcohol use.
- Cravings for alcohol.
- Spending significant amounts of time looking for alcohol, using alcohol, and recovering from alcohol.
Helping a Loved One with Alcohol Use Disorder
Helping a loved one with any substance use disorder is an arduous and ongoing process. For this reason, it’s important that you are as prepared as possible and that you also make time for your own well-being. This is why the first step in helping someone with alcohol problems starts with you, not them.
Start by educating yourself about alcohol abuse, the reasons behind it, common triggers, how it impacts mental health, and the different treatment programs and support groups available. You can find this information online, at your local library, or ask a health professional to help guide you to resources on alcoholism.
Watching a loved one in the grips of alcohol addiction is heartbreaking and devastating. It’s also hard to be the one to put your relationship on the line to encourage them to seek professional help. Ensuring you are well supported is key to keeping yourself strong throughout the process. Ask other family members and friends for support, join a support group for family and friends of people with alcohol problems (like Al-Anon), and even seek therapy and counseling for yourself. Learn more about family and peer support groups and therapy at Zinnia Healing.
Approaching Your Loved One About Their Drinking Problem
Once you feel supported, it’s time to approach your loved one with your concerns. Although Intervention was a popular TV show, we don’t necessarily recommend staging an impromptu intervention to bombard your loved one with family and friends who are concerned about them. This can seem out of left field and as if everyone is ganging up on them, causing them to feel embarrassed and become angry. Instead, approach them alone or with one or two trusted family members or friends. Make sure when you approach your loved one that they are not drinking.
Here are some ideas to have a smooth conversation:
- Don’t start the conversation with accusations or criticisms of their behavior.
- Start the conversation with a gentle tone and “I” statements. Instead of immediately accusing them of having a problem, leave the door open for them to let you know what’s going on. For example, “I love you so much, and I want you to be happy. I’ve noticed that you seem to be drinking more than usual lately. I want to make sure everything is okay?”
- Come up with specific examples of behaviors your loved one has displayed that concern you.
- Explain that you are not mad and not judging them, but that you are genuinely concerned for their health and well-being.
- Don’t lecture them.
- Don’t bribe them or give them an ultimatum to stop drinking. Never threaten to end your relationship with them if they don’t immediately stop drinking.
- Ask if they’d be open to learning about treatment.
- Offer to go with them to see a healthcare professional or speak to a counselor.
- Tell them you are willing to be there during every step of the recovery process and that they are not alone.
Zinnia Healing Can Help
Finding a solid support system is the first step in long-term recovery from alcohol dependence. At Zinnia Healing, our team of compassionate addiction counselors will work with you and your loved one to help them overcome alcohol misuse. We have several treatment facilities around the country and offer customized alcoholism treatment for people of all ages. We offer a wide range of treatment options, including detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment options, family therapy, peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and much more.
Contact us today to learn more about substance abuse treatment at Zinnia Healing.