Guide on Coping With a Family Member Who Has an Alcohol Problem
Alcohol is one of the most widely abused drugs in the world, especially in the US. It is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths each year. While drinking is tough for the person with the issue, it also takes a toll on the family members of the alcoholic. Those dealing with an alcoholic family member will often find themselves confused as to which practices are helping them and which are deteriorating the condition of their loved one. These questions and worries can be difficult for the person dealing with a person with AUD as well. Some tips in this guide will help you.
Dos of Coping with a Person with AUD
When coping with someone who is addicted to alcohol, it is important to take care of yourself while tending to the person in question.
Pay Attention to Your Health
Caregivers tend to put the needs of their loved ones and ignore their own. It is important to understand that this will not help the person you want to take care of. Your health comes first, and rather than putting all your efforts in the pursuit the other person will stop taking alcohol. While your support is essential, it is not synonymous with professional care or appropriate rehabilitation. So instead of ignoring your needs, focus on your diet, exercising habits, and mental wellbeing. If you fall ill, it could pose additional challenges for you.
Understand That It’s a Disease
Alcoholism or any other form of substance use disorder is considered a mental illness, which is why it is needless to blame yourself or the patient. When caring for the affected person, you may feel like nothing you do is working for them. This can harbor feelings of frustration and helplessness. In such moments, it is important to remind yourself that alcoholism is a disease. Despite the efforts of caregivers and the patients, sometimes drinking wins but it is not your fault. Unless professional care is administered, it will be difficult to overcome alcohol use disorder.
Seek Help From Support Groups
Joining a support group can be very helpful if you find it difficult to cope. There are many support groups and counseling services available for the families of alcoholics. For those who are unable to deal with their loved ones in a healthy way, professionals can help you learn new techniques. These techniques are important as they help you take care of yourself while also tending to a family member with alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Set Clear Boundaries
Rather than developing a codependent and unhealthy relationship, you should set healthy boundaries. People with substance use disorders are prone to depending on their loved ones and the caregiver family member(s) also feel obliged to comply with their expectations. However, it is detrimental to both parties. An AUD-ridden person may keep persisting with their actions if they feel like someone will cater to their needs no matter what. Healthy boundaries include:
- Putting a stop at financial help after a certain limit
- Clearly expressing the things that affect you, e.g., bringing booze at home
- Offering to help with professional care
These boundaries will instill a sense of accountability in the patient and protect the well-being of the person.
Don’ts of Coping with a Person with AUD
Some practices and behaviors that are used with an alcoholic can encourage drinking more. If you are also living with someone who has AUD and you don’t understand how to cope with them, the following are some of the don’ts.
Don’t Enable Their Behaviors
Do not cover for them when they are lying or protect them in any way. This is one of the habits that will enable their behavior. Enabling also includes blaming others for the condition of your family member. Doing so takes accountability off of the person who is indulging in the habit of drinking and may even develop a codependent relationship where the unintended consequences may fall on you.
Don’t Use Coercive Tactics
Do not shame the person who is trying to recover. It is only detrimental as it is a disease that is beyond them for the most part. Pushing them or embarrassing them will do the opposite of help. Instead, it will push them toward relapse. If you do not have any experience with AUD, it is not only frustrating but also a helpless situation as it feels like they are not even listening to you. Such a situation may want to make you say harsh words. However, that is never a good option. Talk to a mental health expert or addiction counselor on how to deal with these situations.
Don’t Blame Yourself
Understand that nothing is your fault. It is not because of you that the person has become addicted to alcohol. Be mindful of the fact that people who get addicted are genetically predisposed to the condition, have had a rough childhood, or have been engaged in the condition since their teenage years. All these factors make it difficult to overcome addiction within a few months. It is a gradual process and requires a lot of patience.