Five Things To Do About A Family Member With An Alcohol Problem

January 19, 2021

Many individuals have alcohol problems. Some people call alcoholism a disease, while others reject that term. Still, however you refer to it, if someone in your family is a problem drinker, it can cause you a lot of distress.

You want to help that individual, so they do not get in an alcohol-related car wreck. You also want them to avoid a sclerotic liver and other health-related consequences. If the problem drinker has kids, you want to help them so they can be there to care for them.

You might not be sure what you can do to help them, though. Here are a few ideas you might wish to consider:

Take Away Their Keys

One thing you can do is to take away their keys if they are drinking at home. In most states, the police will charge someone with a regular DUI if they have more than a 0.08% blood-alcohol content. There are also extreme DUIs or super-extreme DUIs, where the individual has more alcohol in their system than that.

If you have a family member who is drinking at home, you probably have no way to know what their blood-alcohol content is. It might be below the legal limit, or it may not. There is probably no way for you to give them a breathalyzer, so you have to assume they are too drunk to drive if they have consumed any alcohol.

You can take away their keys to keep them from driving. If they need something from the store, get it yourself, or figure out some other way to retrieve it. Whatever you do, keep them off the road.

Appeal To Them For Their Kid’s Sake

If the problem drinker does have a child or multiple children, you might talk to them about the issue through that lens. You can tell them that children imitate behavior they witness. If they see a person who drinks to excess every day, that is normalizing the behavior.

We do know that alcoholism has some genetic indicators. If a person has it in their family, they are more likely to develop it as well.

At the same time, learned behaviors count for a lot. During their formative years, what a child sees will significantly impact who they are and what they become as adults.

If the problem drinker won’t stop for any other reason, maybe they will change the behavior for that one. If they can see they are letting their children down, that might shame them into stopping or cutting back.

You Can Have Their Doctor Talk to Them

As a family member, a problem drinker might not listen to you. They might feel like you are just nagging them or you are overstating the problem.

They might respond better if their doctor tells them to cut back. After all, a doctor is a trained medical professional. If they contact the problem drinker and tell them they are harming themselves, that might serve as a more effective wake-up call. 

You might try to have your family member see the doctor based on some other pretext if you cannot get them to go specifically for that reason. They probably do not want to hear the lecture, but maybe the doctor can get through to them by springing it on them.

You Can Have An Intervention

An intervention might be the next logical step. You can call together other family members, friends, coworkers, and anyone else who wants the individual to seek treatment.

This is a hard thing to do. The person might not want to hear what all of you have to say. If they are an addict, it is going to be tough for them to shake off this habitual, long-term behavior.

If you lay out your case as well as you can, you might get through to them. You can tell them you will do all you can to help them change. They will not have to do it alone.

You Can Send Them To Rehab

There are also facilities to which a problem drinker can go where they can dry out. If you have the financial resources to do it, you might look into one of these.

Different ones take various approaches, so you will need to find a suitable one. Some emphasize a holistic approach, while others might be religion-based.

Whatever you can do to help your family member, a time may come when you will need to do it. You must do it for them, but for the other family members as well.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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