Their addiction is not your fault and is not something you need to manage for them. A loved one may expect you to enable them, help them buy alcohol, or help them keep their condition a secret. They may expect you to reassure and lie to them about the impact their drinking has on your lives – but you do not have to.
It might seem like it helps their suffering, but this kind of enabling does not do anything for your loved one in the long term. Treatment is possible, but real recovery requires that we accept there is a problem in the first place. You can compassionately and clearly set boundaries that communicate that you will not support their drinking.
Safety is Priority
Do not ever compromise your safety if you choose to stay in the home with your loved one. Verbal, emotional, or physical abuse is not acceptable towards you or others living with you. If there are children in the house, do not leave them in a position to be endangered by an incapacitated caregiver or intoxicated driver.
Alcohol abuse disorder can develop and fluctuate, so even if you have never felt endangered before; it is best to have a plan. Consider that you may need to extract yourself and any dependents from a situation quickly. If it comes to it, you are safer knowing who to contact and where to go.
This is the first step towards getting your loved ones the treatment they need. You need to get the timing right, but it is possible to confront them in a non-threatening way. Never attempt to confront them when they are drunk – it is potentially dangerous, and it just will not work. Instead, choose a time when they are sober. Do your research on alcohol rehabilitation programs before talking to them so you can explain the path to care. Calmly present your concerns and feelings while being as kind, non-judgmental, and clear about the problem as you can be.
Expect denial at first. Many alcoholics are aware that their drinking is not normal, but guilt and shame fog up communication about many substance use disorders. They may flat-out refuse to discuss it in the beginning, but be patient and prepared. If this is repeatedly unsuccessful or feels risky to you, consider working with an interventionist.
Contact a Treatment Center
It is a good idea to decide on a treatment center before you confront your family member or stage an intervention. Not only can we help with how to approach the conversation, but if the research is done and the bag is packed, it will be harder for them to change their mind or back out of treatment. Some centers will offer private assessments by phone to get your loved one on the path to recovery as quickly as possible.
If you would like to learn more about the alcohol addiction treatment at Cirque Lodge, take a look at our page here.