7 Tips on How to Deal With an Alcoholic Person


People suffering from alcohol use disorder not only affect their lives but also negatively impact their spouses, children, siblings, and other people who interact with them regularly.

For example, a study on the effects of parental drinking on adolescents reveals that children with problem-drinking parents are at risk of substance abuse and mental disorders.

Meanwhile, people with an alcoholic spouseface emotional problems, like anxiety and frustration, health problems, social isolation, financial problems, and, in some cases, physical violence.

If you have a loved one with excessive alcohol use, how should you go about it? The following tips share how to deal with an alcoholic family member while helping you cope and protect yourself.

1. Assess The Person’s Condition

Before setting an intervention, it’s best to confirm if your loved one has an alcohol addiction. Many people enjoy drinking, and some have a high tolerance for alcohol. So, alcoholism can’t be defined by a person’s -even quite large- alcohol intake.

If you want to know if a loved one suffers from alcohol use disorder, observe their behavior and lifestyle, and see if they show the following signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse:

  • Unable to limit their alcohol intake
  • Finds it difficult to cut down on their alcohol or stop drinking
  • Spends most of their time drinking, getting liquor, or recovering from alcohol use
  • Feels a strong urge to drink alcohol
  • Fails to meet their role and responsibilities at work, school, or home due to alcohol
  • Continues to drink despite the negative consequences on their health, relationship, and work
  • Prefers alcohol over hobbies, work, and social activities
  • Uses alcohol in risky situations, such as when driving
  • Develops an increased alcohol tolerance, resulting in heavier drinking
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms, like headache, nausea, sweating, and anxiety, when they don’t drink
  • Drinks alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms

If you suspect someone you know is exhibiting these signs, consider asking them to see a doctor or seek help.

2. Express Your Concern With Their Drinking Problem

It’s not easy to confront someone dealing with alcoholism, especially since they’ll likely deny their condition. However, if you don’t speak up, their condition will likely get worse.

Before communicating your concern, remember that you can’t force them to stop drinking. It should be their choice. With this in mind, here are tips on how to confront an alcoholic person.

Talk to Them in Private

Choose to talk with the person in question in a distraction-free and private space. You may also ask them to turn off their phone or put it in silent mode to avoid interruptions.

It’s also important to talk to them when they’re sober and when you’re both calm and focused. It’ll enable you to communicate better with each other.

Share Your Genuine Concern About Their Drinking Problem

Talk about how you’re concerned for their well-being and the impact of their heavy drinking.

You may use “I” statements to express your feelings and concerns. For example, you could say, “I’m worried about your alcohol use since you’re drinking every day.”

Stay calm and compassionate when talking to them, and share your genuine concern.

Avoid Lecturing, Blaming, and Accusing

If the alcohol abuse is severe, it could be tempting to lecture, blame, or accuse them of their behavior. However, avoid nagging or blaming, as it won’t help or encourage the person to change.

Instead, be patient and supportive. A person dealing with alcohol abuse likely already struggles with reducing or stopping their drinking habits.

Consider an Intervention

If you don’t want to talk to the person alone, consider staging an intervention. You may also ask the help of an intervention specialist on how to approach a family member, friend, or coworker struggling with alcoholism.

The intervention specialist can also help you form a team with a mental health professional and substance abuse specialist to talk to the person.

3. Offer Treatment Options

During your confrontation, you may offer treatment options. Here are the different treatment methods available for people struggling with alcohol addiction:

Refer Them to a Physician

The best first step is to bring your loved one to a physician, who will evaluate them and provide treatment referrals based on their assessment.

The doctor can also prescribe medication to curb the person’s drinking if needed. Overall, the doctor’s oversight can be crucial in monitoring their condition throughout the treatment process.

Explore Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy equips a person with an alcohol problem with skills to stop their drinking, cope with triggers, and build a support system.

The different types of behavioral treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and brief intervention.

Depending on your relationship with the person, you can also try marital and family counseling.

Recommend a Treatment Center

An addiction treatment center offers professional support for people struggling with alcohol or drug abuse.

These centers help people detoxify from alcohol, ease their withdrawal symptoms, receive psychological support, and educate people about addiction to treat the root cause of their excessive drinking.

Consider Online Consultation and Treatment

If the recovering person wants to keep your treatment private, has no nearby treatment centers, or has accessibility issues, they should consider booking an appointment on telemedicine platforms like Curednation.

These online services have various healthcare professionals who help treat alcoholism using behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, prescription, and more. The best thing is that you can receive treatment anytime, anywhere.

Help Them Join a Mutual-Support Group

A support group offers people struggling with substance use disorder with encouragement and motivation from peers with the same condition.

You may recommend any of the following widely-available groups to your loved one:

4. Care for Yourself

Helping a loved one with their alcoholism can be an emotional rollercoaster. You may even sacrifice your own health to help them.

However, it’s important not to neglect your needs to stay healthy and safe. Here are some ways you can care for yourself as you deal with a loved one’s drinking addiction.

Maintain Self-Care

Take care of yourself by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and taking up new hobbies or activities to relieve stress.

Also, don’t forget to seek emotional support from trusted friends and family, especially if you’ve become isolated due to your loved one’s drinking addiction.

Join Support Groups

Consider joining family support groups for addiction. These groups help families dealing with the effects of having members who abuse alcohol.

These groups not only provide support but also teach coping skills to detach yourself from your loved one’s behaviors.

Popular fellowship groups for people affected by someone else’s drinking include:

Consider Family Therapy

Besides joining a support group, consider having family therapy sessions, especially if the effects on you and your family have been severe.

Undergoing therapy as a family will help rebuild your support structure, resolve existing problems, and improve everyone’s psychological, emotional, and behavioral health.

5. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries enables you to protect yourself and avoid creating a codependent relationship with someone dealing with alcohol addiction. Here are some ways to help you set and maintain boundaries with a person suffering from alcohol dependency.

Determine What Behaviors to Not Tolerate

Start by being clear about what actions or behaviors you won’t tolerate. Consider writing them down to gain clarity and reinforce these boundaries.

These boundaries can include:

  • Not drinking alcohol when with them
  • Not doing activities that involve drinking
  • Not covering up the person’s drinking problem
  • Not giving money to help them buy liquor
  • Throwing away or not having liquor inside your home
  • Not allowing them to disrespect you
  • Not trusting their word if they often lie

Set Consequences for Crossing Your Boundaries

Establishing consequences when an alcoholic family member or friend crosses your boundaries lets them know you’re serious about not tolerating their behavior.

An example of a consequence could be not allowing them to go inside your house if they’re drunk.

Enforcing boundaries and consequences can be challenging, but once you set and maintain them, it’ll be effective at protecting yourself and getting your point across.

Distance Yourself

Part of setting boundaries includes distancing yourself physically and emotionally from an alcoholic person. Although it’s painful or difficult, it’s acceptable to distance yourself, but let them know you’re doing this for both of your sakes.

Remember that soft boundaries will only enable their behavior. Meanwhile, firm boundaries will force them to be responsible for their actions and be motivated to seek help.

6. Prepare Yourself If They Refuse to Stop Drinking

Overcoming addiction isn’t easy, and many who suffer from substance use disorders like alcoholism refuse to receive treatment.

If the person in question refuses treatment or any help, here’s how you can respond.

Still Offer Support

It can be frustrating if an obviously struggling person refuses to seek help, but don’t be discouraged. Instead, remain patient and encouraging, offering them support without enabling their drinking behaviors and disregarding yourself.

Let them know you’re there for them if they need help or someone to talk to. Talk to them often, and allow them to open up. Make yourself a safe space for them, especially if they’re struggling with relapse or inconsistency.

Through your encouragement and support, there may come a time when they’ll find the strength to seek help and get back to their recovery journey.

Educate Yourself

Understand what they’re going through by reading up on alcohol addiction. It’ll help you prepare for any scenario in the future and keep your eyes out for any risks, like overdose or risky behavior.

The following organizations offer helpful online resources on their website about alcoholism and dealing with it:

  • Centerstone.org: Centerstone provides articles and topics covering alcohol prevention, treatment options, alcohol-related statistics, and risk factors related to alcoholism.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA offers resources on how to prevent or recover from alcoholism, plus dual-diagnosis conditions like mental health disorders and substance use.
  • American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP): The AAAP produces articles, journals, and research on substance use. They also provide a list of accredited specialists you can contact.

7. Know When to Leave

When do you know if it’s time to step away? Consider leaving in the following situations.

Step Away If You and Other Family Members Feel Unsafe

Unfortunately, you may need to leave at some point if the person is someone you live with and they become violent or detrimental to your and other’s emotional and mental well-being.

You may also leave if you experience financial problems due to your spouse, parent, child, or sibling’s alcoholism.

Depending on the situation, you may have to leave your home or divorce your alcoholic spouse to protect yourself and your family members.

Avoid Them If They Cause You to Drink More

One study suggests that it’s possible to be influenced by your partner’s drinking habit. If you’re starting to develop alcohol dependence, it’s a crucial sign to distance yourself from the person influencing this behavior.

Having many family members involved with alcohol can ruin their relationship and be harmful to their welfare and others.

Remember, You’re Not Alone

Dealing with family members suffering from alcohol use disorder isn’t easy. But, you don’t have to go through it alone.

As you help your loved one deal with their alcohol addiction, don’t forget to seek help for yourself from friends, family members, support groups, and healthcare professionals.

If you have any unanswered questions, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.


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