I’m going to start by stating clearly and in simple language that I am an alcoholic. I have been sober since 2007 and I thank God every single day for my recovery. Okay, now that that’s out of the way…
There are millions of alcoholics in the United States (and millions more around the world). We all know that. But what happens if an alcoholic lives in your home? How do you deal with an alcoholic family member, especially if that family member is a human tornado of destructive behavior that threatens the quality of your life?
I don’t want to sound uncaring, because as I stated I’m an alcoholic myself. But the best way to deal with an alcoholic in your home, especially one that is harming the family emotionally or physically, is to offer them help and if they don’t take it, too fucking bad. They either need to leave the home or you need to leave them until they get help on their own. Send them out into the wilderness and let them figure it out on their own.
I can’t tell you how many people I know who have allowed an alcoholic family member to destroy their lives. The alcoholic may not intend to or want to, but they usually leave a wake of destruction behind them as their disease progresses. Addiction never gets better. It either gets worse or it gets managed through treatment.
I have worked with many alcoholics and addicts over the last 13 years of my recovery, and the first thing I tell their spouses, siblings and parents is “you can’t fix them, so don’t even try. The best you can do is offer help and if they won’t take it, you have to step aside come what may.”
Naturally, no one wants to hear such stark advice. They want to help their loved one any way possible. Unfortunately, alcoholics rarely get sober until they WANT to get sober. We never get it until we WANT it. Period. Case closed. End of story.
Family members can only help in a few simple ways:
1) Organize an intervention
2) Suggest rehab
3) Suggest inpatient or outpatient treatment
4) Encouraging a 12 Step program
Beyond these suggestions there’s simply not much one person can do to help another person get clean and sober. It’ a tough reality to face, but an alcoholic should not be allowed to destroy your family or home. Offer help and if they refuse it, say goodbye until they get clean on their own.
If you have a family member who is an alcoholic, what has the experience been like for you? How have you protected your household from their behavior and actions?
Dirk Foster is an author and sobriety coach who lives near Lake Tahoe. To learn more about Dirk, his books and his coaching services please visit: www.sobercoachdirk.com