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When one realizes a loved one has an alcohol addiction, it can be hard, and he can experience many different emotions. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say or how to react. Ultimately, alcoholism hurts the entire family, so it is important to deal with the problems in an appropriate way, so here are some tips of some things not to do if your family member or friend has a problem with alcohol.
Do not make excuses for his alcohol dependence. Many people who have an alcoholic family member or friend are afraid of losing or damaging the relationship with a loved one, so she often make excuses for the alcoholic’s excessive drinking or his behavior due to drinking. This reasoning is quite selfish because it only benefits the family member or friend rather than allowing the consumer the option to seek help. Others may not even realize they are making excuses or insulating the alcoholic from the experiencing the consequences of his behavior. Some people may truly believe they are helping a family member or friend who hits the bottle by lying or making excuses for him. However, this shields the family member or friend from experiencing the consequences of their behavior and adds much more time and hurdles to overcome before realizing he needs help for his addiction. It is most beneficial for the alcoholic to receive compassion from a loved one while also having boundaries set in place to protect oneself from being hurt from the alcoholic’s behavior and allowing the alcoholic to experience the natural consequences from his drinking problem.
Do not take away the person’s dignity by trying to do things for him that he is capable of doing for himself. Not only are you taking away his dignity, but by doing things for him and covering up his boozing you are keeping him in denial of the full extent of his alcohol problem. If you do things for him, he will not be able to experience the full effect his alcohol consumption is having on his life. Stop enabling him to keep his drinking a secret. Instead of helping him hide his alcohol consumption, bring the facts into the light, and let him fully experience the consequences of his boozing. Allowing him to experience the consequences can also push him to seek help because he will realize how damaging his drinking actually is.
Do not make idle threats. The alcoholic will call your bluff every time, not because he does not care about your or do not trust you, but because the alcohol is more important and more controlling than anything else in his life right now. He will quickly realize you will not follow through with your threats, and they will become meaningless.
Do not argue with the person when he is intoxicated. A person who is drunk will not be able to reason with you. The best time to talk to a person is when he has not been drinking. Arguing with an intoxicated person usually ends up in a dispute, which often distracts you and others from the real focus, his alcoholic behaviors.
Do not intentionally punish someone with a drinking problem. He is more than likely drinking because he has guilty feelings or low self esteem, so making him feel bad about himself for drinking will more than likely only make the issue worse. Shaming others into changing rarely ever works either. Furthermore, you do not want to make yourself the enemy. Afterall, you are trying to help him and not make the situation worse!
Do not drink with an alcoholic person. Stop drinking with him or buying alcohol for him immediately. Avoid taking him to or going with him to places you know alcohol will be present. This behavior is just perpetuating the issue.
Do not take on guilt for another individual’s drinking mess. Try not to take your loved one’s drinking problem personally. You cannot worry about hurting the other person’s feelings because you think he is going to go drink because of something you said. It is his choice to drink, not you making him do it. You cannot be in constant fear of how much he will drink or if he will get angry at you because you say the wrong thing to him. You do not have to endure his unacceptable behavior or think you are the one to blame for his problem anymore. The lies and manipulation are not directed at you personally either, but are a symptom of the alcoholism. His brain chemistry could have changed due to his alcohol consumption as well and that will alter his decision making also. However, there is hope for you. You can change the feelings you have about yourself and about your loved one’s addiction. You can learn to let go of holding onto his problem and focusing on yourself. He can and needs to learn to deal with his own issues. Release your family member or friend to do this for both your sake and his.
Hopefully you have learned some things to avoid when dealing with an alcoholic loved one and realize there is help available for you and your loved one’s alcohol problem.