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How to Find the Best Support for Families of Alcoholics

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Those of us in the addiction recovery community refer to alcoholism as a family problem. We do not say this simply as a marketing ploy or a way to manipulate people with drinking problems to get help. We describe alcoholism as a family problem because it truly is. The spouses, partners, children, and siblings of alcoholics suffer significant emotional and physical damage as a result of the behaviours of their alcoholic loved ones.

In our role as a provider of alcohol assessments and treatment referrals, we do more than just help alcoholics themselves. We also help their families. For example, we provide advice on how to cope with an alcoholic in ways that prevent the family from being unnecessarily harmed. We also refer families to counsellors who can offer the kind of advice and support they need.

The best way to find support for families of alcoholics is to contact an organisation such as ours. We are specialists in the area of recommending treatment based on individual circumstances. We have access to services aimed at the partners of alcoholics, their children, and extended family members.

3 Ways Families Are Affected

The families of alcoholics are truly innocent victims inasmuch as they suffer the consequences of the actions of others. They are not the ones drinking and causing problems, yet they suffer the consequences of their alcoholic loved ones’ irresponsible actions. This is why it is so important to offer the families of alcoholics support by way of counselling and advice.

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If you are an alcoholic, you are harming your family. Here are three ways your choice to continue drinking may already be affecting your spouse, children, or siblings:

  • Physical Abuse – Although alcoholics may believe they are always in complete control of themselves, they often are not. The unfortunate truth is that the condition of alcoholism leads to erratic behaviour that may result in violence. Far too often the spouses and children of alcoholics suffer physical abuse at the hands of the alcoholic. This is never acceptable. If you have ever laid a hand on another person after a drinking episode, you need help.
  • Psychological Abuse – Psychological abuse is just as real as physical abuse. It may be harder to identify because the damage is done internally, but the damage is real nonetheless. Family members of alcoholics can be victimised by fear, anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental anguish. Some eventually reach the point of complete breakdown.
  • Financial Ruin – Alcoholism, as with any other form of addiction, often leads to financial ruin. The alcoholic progressively spends more money on fuelling his or her addiction and, because the condition affects one's ability to work, may experience the loss of a job. The entire family suffers in such cases. With no money to pay the bills, the family can lose everything.

Please understand that drinking problems do not affect just drinkers. They also affect every member of the family who has to live with the drinker. If you have a drinking problem, rest assured it is harming your partner, your children, and any other family members you come in regular contact with.

Available Support for Families of Alcoholics

The families of alcoholics don't need to continue living with their troubles or trying to solve them alone. There are a variety of service providers who offer counselling, advice, and even material help when necessary. Service providers can be alcohol charities, family charities, private counsellors, rehab clinics, and even NHS professionals.

We can help you determine if a drinking problem is harming you and your family. By asking some questions and grading your answers, we can compare your loved one's drinking habits to something known as the Alcohol Dependence Scale. We can also measure how seriously the drinking problem is affecting the rest of the family.

Part of our mission is to keep track of all the different service providers offering help and support for families across the UK. We can connect you with services in your local area; services that will help you cope until your loved one successfully completes treatment. Services can take the form of:

  • Family Counselling – The families of alcoholics can benefit greatly from counselling that teaches them how to minimise the impact of alcoholism. For example, families learn how to identify the triggers of abusive behaviour so that these can be avoided. They learn how to identify their own enabling behaviours in order to stop them.
  • Material Assistance – In cases that involve physical or mental abuse, support for families of alcoholics may include material assistance. A service provider may help a family temporarily relocate for their own safety; they may provide food, financial assistance, and other forms of help to make the situation more tolerable.
  • Intervention Assistance – An intervention can be very helpful in motivating an alcoholic to get treatment. Some families choose to conduct an intervention by themselves; others would prefer the help of a professional. Assistance with an intervention is a normal part of the support offered to the families of alcoholics.
  • Reintegration Assistance – Lastly, the families of alcoholics in treatment have to prepare for the day when their loved one returns from residential rehab. This is what we in the recovery community call 'reintegration'. Therapists assist families preparing for reintegration through counselling and therapy sessions designed to teach them the skills they need to provide solid support for their loved ones.

The information in this guide should make it clear that alcoholism is a family problem. Alcoholism destroys relationships, robs you of your finances, and does permanent damage to both mental and physical health. You cannot afford to allow alcoholism to continue damaging your family. If you are not willing to get treatment for yourself, are you not at least willing to do so for your family?

If you are living with an alcoholic loved one rather than fighting the condition yourself, we hope you understand that help and support are out there. Do not continue the struggle by yourself. Do not believe the lie that nothing can be done to improve the quality of your life. You can get beyond your problems to enjoy a productive and meaningful life.

Support for families of alcoholics is out there. We can help you access it when you contact us through our 24-hour helpline or our website. Our trained counsellors are standing by to lend a listening ear and provide information about counselling and treatment. All of our services are absolutely free and completely confidential, so why delay any longer? Contact us right now and let us help you. We can do this together.

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