Alcohol Abuse and Dependence - For Family and Friends
If someone close to you has had a drinking problem, you know how
hard it can be. You know how living or dealing with someone who abuses or is
dependent on alcohol can change and even destroy your life. You're an important part of your loved one's treatment and recovery. Your emotions and life may change too, and taking care of yourself is also important.
be very hard to live with a family member who has a drinking problem. It's best
not to try to control, excuse, or cover up the person's drinking. Instead,
encourage your family member to seek treatment. Find a good time to talk to the person. To learn ways you can help someone get treatment, see:
Alcohol Problems: Helping Someone Get Treatment
Help with treatment and recovery
the choice for treatment has been made, you play an important part. You can
help your loved one stop drinking and help repair the damage done to your
family or relationship. Here are some things you can do:
- If you drink, decide whether you want to keep
alcohol in the house. Having alcohol in your home might make it harder
for your loved one to stay sober.
- Be involved and patient. Attend
recovery meetings with your loved one, and be supportive. Know that it may take
a long time for you to trust and forgive the person and for the person to
forgive himself or herself.
- Be aware that your loved one may seem
like a different person after he or she is sober. You may find it hard to get
used to this person. You may need to rebuild your
- Understand that you have the right to know how
recovery is going, but ask about it in a respectful way.
Help your loved one plan for a relapse. Most people
relapse after treatment. This doesn't mean the treatment failed. Try to help
your loved one see relapse as a chance to do better and to keep working on skills
to avoid drinking.
- Focus on the positive actions your loved one is
Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself while you help your loved one is
important. You probably will feel relief and happiness when the person decides
to get help. But treatment and recovery mean changes in your life too. Your
emotions may become more complicated. You may:
- Resent what the person did to you in the
- Not trust the person. You may not want to give the person the
house key, the car key, or money. You also may feel guilty about not trusting
- Find it hard to give up or share your family role. For
example, if you took over child-rearing when your partner was drinking, you may
resent him or her becoming involved again. If you managed money, you may resent
having to make shared decisions on how to spend money.
- Resent that
the person is spending more time at meetings or with others in recovery than
- Worry so much about relapse that you avoid anything that you
think may upset the person. You also may resent this feeling.