Having a loved one struggles with addiction can be difficult. Recognizing that someone you care about is struggling, and/or damaging their health by continuing to drink can be unbearable. Additional information about living with an alcoholic, please follow the link.
While everyone’s situation will be different, there are some similar experiences shared by family members of alcoholics. Many family members find that living with an alcoholic can be isolating and lead to feelings of:
There are also similarities in the way that alcoholism influences the family member. The alcoholic may be moody, not truthful, distant or withdrawal from family events just to name a few.
As a result, support for families members of alcoholics are strongly encouraged to find support for themselves. Knowing that your intentions are coming from a place of love and concern, can make it challenging when the alcoholic is in denial or not willing to listen to concerns about their drinking behaviors.
While you cannot control when the alcoholic is ready to accept help, you can make sure that you maintain a healthy mental health status yourself, including the use of healthy coping skills.
Where is the line between enabling and supporting the alcoholic? For some, this line becomes blurred over time. Working with a therapist can help clarify healthy boundaries and see where you can make changes to best support your loved one.
Today we recognize how important support for families of alcoholics is, particularly support for children of alcoholic parents. Alcoholism affects the entire family, not just the alcoholic. The immediate family is affected the most, but the extended family can be affected as well.
Some of the ways alcoholism affects the family include:
These are just some of the ways alcoholism affects the family. You can see why support for families of alcoholics is so important. And alcoholism can affect children of alcoholic parents in even more ways.
Having an alcoholic parent has a tremendous affect on a child. We are only now beginning to understand all of the ways children of alcoholic parents are affected by their parent’s drinking.
In addition to the things listed above, some of the ways children of alcoholic parents are affected by their parent’s drinking include:
So it’s clear that families of alcoholics need support. But what kind of support is available?
Most drug and alcohol treatment programs, whether residential or outpatient, include a family component. The family component generally includes education about the disease of alcoholism and the addiction and recovery process as well as support for families of alcoholics.
However, if an alcoholic is not involved in a treatment program, there is still support available to his or her family. A wonderful support system for families of alcoholics is Al-Anon.
Al-Anon is a 12-Step program modeled on the well-known program for alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous. It provides wonderful support for families of alcoholics.
At Al-Anon meetings, family members share experiences and talk about how they have dealt with the stress of living with an alcoholic. Al-Anon helps family members focus on their own behaviors and making positive changes, for instance, no longer lying to protect the alcoholic.
There are also support groups called Alateen for teens living with an alcoholic family member. These are similar to Al-Anon groups. Teens will respond well in a group setting.
There are no 12-Step groups providing support for young children. However, young children living with an alcoholic family member will also need support. Seeing a therapist who specializes in treating young children will be the best step for them.