Helping Alcoholics in Denial
Do you shudder at the thought of going to family get-togethers because of the arguments that are inevitable as a result of intoxicated family members? Maybe that family member is an immediate loved one such as a brother, sister, or parent? Have they gotten into fights with you because of your suggestions to slow down or that you shouldn’t drink anymore? Seeing a loved one deny the fact he or she is an alcoholic and has a problem can be frustrating. If they could only see it from your point of view they would understand. Unfortunately, we could be contributing to their alcoholism and don’t even realize it.
The First Step: Stop Caring So Much
Of course, we need to care, but don’t worry so much that we take their responsibilities away from them and make them our own. We never want to hurt our loved ones and we definitely would do anything in our power to keep them safe. Whether emotionally or physically, you do not want to see them suffer and would do anything to prevent them from being so. This is understandable and normal in a family, spousal or dear friend setting. When that person you love and care for is an addict or alcoholic, there is a line that is, innocently, often crossed between helping and enabling.
Helping vs. Enabling
Helping is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves. Enabling is doing things that a person could and should be doing themselves. Enabling gives the alcoholic ways to drink without consequences. Many families want to fix the alcoholic’s problems but many end up, unknowingly, contributing to their addiction instead of helping. It is not a guarantee, but putting a stop to the enabling and letting the alcoholic face the consequences of their alcohol abuse may give them a reason to access their problem and seek help on their own and finally start their path to recovery.
How to Help a Chronic Alcoholic
After taking a step back and adding up how many times you have “helped” out your alcoholic loved one, you may have realized there has been some enabling along the way. If you don’t know what to do now or how to stop doing this, there are solutions available. We understand that you don’t want to hurt your family but realize this; you are hurting them if you don’t stop the enabling. Here are a couple of ways where you can start helping an alcoholic that may be in denial:
- Do not allow the alcoholic to continue their current lifestyle – Are you paying any bills that the addict could be paying himself or herself? They may have lost their job due to their addiction and will continue to use and not be in any hurry in finding another one if they don’t have to pay bills or rent due to you enabling and paying for them. The addict needs to experience this consequence due to his or her addiction.
- Do not do things for the alcoholic that they could do themselves – Maybe the addict had their car repossessed and doesn’t have a ride to a job interview or an AA meeting. Giving him or her a ride to or from is helping because this is something they cannot do on his or her own. Enabling is looking up the meeting schedule or searching in the want ads for jobs which the alcoholic is capable of all by themselves. Let the alcoholic experience his or her consequences from their actions – He or she may get arrested and go to jail from actions of their addiction. Do not bail and/or pay their fines. This will only allow the alcoholic to not fully take on their consequences.
This may all come as a surprise and may sound harsh. This doesn’t mean you should shun them and not communicate with them. They need your support and understanding more than anything but in a healthy and helpful approach. It may take years for the alcoholic to come out of their denial, or it may only take days, but know that no matter what you do, you cannot control what another person does. You can control what goes on in your life and what boundaries to set for what is acceptable or not. While trying to not enable any further, it is a good idea to get support from others that are going through this. Al-Anon and Families Anonymous are support groups that deal with families and alcoholics.
Alcoholism Treatment With Evoke Florida
At Evoke Florida, we help clients detox from alcohol and drugs under the best possible treatment and surroundings. Our medical drug and alcohol detox facility is located in a beautiful, private location overlooking a tranquil lake in Miramar, Florida. Our relaxing surroundings, high-end amenities, delicious and nutritious food, and a team of professional practitioners, help clients move through the detox phase quickly, safely and comfortably. After detox, clients have a wide range of options to transition seamlessly to the next step in their addiction recovery. While the medical detoxification process is not easy, many clients recognize early on that it is not nearly as intense, painful, or uncomfortable as anticipated. We help them build foundations needed to maintain long-term sobriety.