Today, there are an estimated over fifteen million alcoholics in the United States over the age of eighteen.
This means that if you have a close relative who is suffering from alcoholism, whether they be a spouse, a child, a parent, a cousin, or a sibling, you are certainly not alone.
And while you may feel very compelled to help your relative, you may also try to help them in a way that is really not going to be beneficial.
Here are the top mistakes that you must avoid at all costs when helping a relative with alcoholism:
Being Confrontational Using “You” Instead of “I”
First and foremost, you need to avoid being confrontational at all costs. This means that using the word ‘You’ should be kept to a minimum, with a better focus on the use of the word ‘I.’
The more confrontational you are, you will be perceived as being much more judgmental by your relative, and that’s simply not going to solve anything.
A good way to ensure that you are as un-confrontational as possible will be to practice and even rehearse out loud to yourself what you plan on saying. If you are planning an intervention with your friends or family members, you’ll want to ensure that you all practice what you are going to say, and prepare yourself for likely responses from the relative.
Not Supporting Your Concerns
For every concern that you raise in regards to your relative’s alcoholism, you will also need to bring up a legitimate and justifiable concern.
Simply saying “it’s bad that you’re an alcoholic” is not only confrontational, but it’s also unsupported. Instead, bring up specific issues that have arisen as a result of your relative’s alcoholism, but again, do so in a way that does not express anger or judgment to them.
This can be very difficult because giving your reasons for your concerns can possibly make you seem judgmental no matter what. The best advice here is to discuss how it’s affecting the lives of other people and not just the alcoholic.
Coercing or Forcing Them To Join Support Groups
It’s totally fine if you believe attending support groups and programs such as Al-Anon meetings is what your relative needs to do. But keep in mind that the only way they can join such a group is if they choose to.
In other words, you cannot force or coerce your relative into joining a group even if you believe that it’s exactly what they will need in order to help their issue.
In addition, telling a spouse that you will walk out on them unless if they join the support group or telling a sibling that you will never speak to them again unless they do so are examples of where you are technically using blackmail and coercion to get them to join the group.
Again, if your relative does join an alcoholic support group, it needs to be on their own accord and based on their own decision. You can certainly support them to do it, but again, forcing them is not going to solve anything.
Not Keeping Yourself In Good Shape
Finally, not looking after your own physical and mental health will be another major issue and mistake that you will want to avoid. This is because you are less helpful to your relative if you’re not functioning at your best.
If your relative is particularly close with you, then it can be extremely difficult to see them struggle hard with alcoholism. This is what is going to cause a lot of stress in you, which can have devastating results later. Depression, an unwillingness to eat or exercise, and anxiety are examples of things that can set in.
It may be necessary for you to join your own support group of others who are going through the pain of seeing their own loved ones struggle with alcoholism. It’s also critical that you practice healthy habits and disciplines in your own life, such as eating healthy foods, staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water, meditating, journaling, waking up early, spending time with friends and family, and so on.
Helping A Relative With Alcoholism
The best way to help your relative in their struggle with alcoholism will be to avoid making the kinds of mistakes like the ones that we have covered here today.