How the Alcohol Addict Affects The Family. How You Can Help

April 9, 2014 Lauren Hardy, MA

The alcohol addict, alcoholic, affects the entire family. As a family member of an alcohol addict, learn what you can do to help.

Alcohol addiction is often referred to as a family disease because not only does the alcoholic suffer from the hazardous effects, but the family is victimized as well. Living with an alcoholic on a daily basis is not an easy task and can be quite an emotional rollercoaster. One moment you may be sad and worried about your loved one. Then, within a matter of minutes, you may become overwhelmed with frustration and anger. The lies, angry outbursts, financial difficulties, and constant unpredictability can quickly become too much to handle. Children of an alcoholic may become depressed and start to act out, while the spouse may become so preoccupied by their loved one’s drinking that he or she begins to neglect his or her own needs (How to Deal with an Alcoholic).

Let’s go back to my dad’s friend, John, who was once a struggling alcoholic. Unfortunately for him, as a result of his drinking, his marriage eventually came to an end. John’s wife stated that eventually it all become too much for her to handle. It was taking a toll on her emotional well-being and she wanted her kids to have a more stable home environment.

In the beginning, she said that she was in denial about how bad John’s drinking actually was and convinced herself that he was just going through a rough period and things would quickly improve. However, as time went on, things only got worse. She walked around the house on eggshells trying to prevent fights. She would sit at home and worry every time John was out too late, and she slowly become depressed and angry. In the end, she decided that the best thing for her and her children was to get a divorce and move.

Talking To Your Loved One About Their Alcoholism

The alcohol addict, alcoholic, affects the entire family. As a family member of an alcohol addict, learn what you can do to help.While John’s wife concluded that the best thing for her and her children was to walk away while John got his drinking under control, it is not that simple for other spouses. No one wants to admit that their loved one has an alcohol addiction problem, but it is far worse for the individual to never get the alcoholism treatment they need. (How Can Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Affect Your Life?) So how can you approach your loved one about their problem and express that you believe they need treatment?

Treatment Program: Lauren Hardy M.A. writes on the behalf of Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery, a leading residential treatment center and detox program for adults looking to recover from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders.

Before you express how you feel to your loved one, take some time to learn about alcohol addiction and the treatment process. (Different Alcohol Treatment Programs Work for Different People) The better you understand the issues that your loved one is currently facing, the better you will be able to support them. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you do decide to broach the subject:

  • Express genuine concern - make sure that you don’t approach your loved one with anger; explain as carefully as possible why you are worried
  • Be specific - be able to talk about specific situations or behaviors that have caused your concern
  • Have solutions ready - when you talk to your loved one about getting help, have some information available about recovery programs
  • Believe that recovery is possible
  • Support them, but don’t enable them

Having to talk to a loved one about their addiction is never easy, but if it is handled properly there is a greater chance that you will have a positive effect on your loved one. While the hope is that having a conversation with your loved one will encourage them to get help for their alcohol addiction problem, it doesn’t always happen this way. Be prepared to be met with denial and resistance, but continue with encouragement. (How to Help an Alcoholic)

Seeking Treatment for the Alcohol Addict

As a family member, you can play an integral part in your loved one's recovery. Recognizing an alcohol addiction problem early and getting your loved one into a treatment program will ensure better outcomes. The first step to any recovery process is to find and enroll in a alcoholism rehab program that will best fit the needs of your family member. You can help your family member find an appropriate treatment program by taking the time to research possible centers, talking to the staff, and obtaining as much information as possible. If you are unsure where to begin, your loved one’s primary care physician should be able to provide you with referrals.

Once your loved one has decided on a program and has started treatment, to help ensure their lasting sobriety, it is imperative that you become involved in the process. Here are some things you can do to increase positive results:

  • Remain positive - the road to recovery is a long one with some bumps along the way. Continue to hope for the best and keep the end goal of sobriety in mind
  • Be present - make yourself available for your loved one to lean on when they need support
  • Be patient - recovery doesn’t happen over night
  • Attend meetings - most recovery programs offer family therapy and support groups which can be very valuable resources
  • Create a safe space - when your loved one comes to visit, you make sure that there is no alcohol in your home that can lead them into temptation and possible relapse

When your loved one has completed their rehab treatment, it is important to remember that the recovery process is still not over. In order to maintain their sobriety, alcoholics need to adhere to their aftercare plans and continue to be surrounded with an active support network. (read: Relapse Prevention for Alcohol Addiction)

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APA Reference
Hardy, L. (2014, April 9). How the Alcohol Addict Affects The Family. How You Can Help, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Lauren Hardy, MA

Madison Wilson
April, 10 2014 at 2:18 am

The habit of excessive alcohol drinking not only ruins your life but also affects whole family. Many people lose their life because of it. Alcohol not only physically affects but also mentally affects too.

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