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If you’re dreading the festive season because of someone else’s drinking, maybe we can help. Or, maybe you are curious about your own drinking… Read more…

For many people Christmas is a time of fun and frivolity, and chaos with family gatherings, exchanging gifts, end of year work dos and anticipating the arrival of Santa with the kids. But for some of us it’s that chaotic time of year when we’re anticipating a loved one’s drinking getting out of control and ruining Christmas…. again.

What can I do when a loved one’s drinking is out of control?

A great start is to speak to someone who knows what to look for and what to do. We speak with concerned family members daily who are at their wits end and don’t know what to do to help. Often people living with someone else’s addiction will have a sense of guilt that if they had only done X, then their loved one wouldn’t be the way they are and many live in hope that someday, somehow, they will be able to control their drinking or stop for good. There is a useful saying in Al-Anon which is helpful to remember – You didn’t cause it, you cannot control it and you cannot cure it.

The good news is that there are things you can do to help…

  • Understand the problem – It is important to realise that alcohol dependency is a disease and not a moral dilemma. The more information you can gather about what alcohol dependency is and the signs to look for, the easier it will be to separate the disease from the person and realise they are not doing it to you or on purpose.
  • Set boundaries – It’s OK to be clear about your expectations around Christmas and communicate these to your loved one. If you want Christmas lunch to be alcohol-free then let your family know. It is important that if you set a boundary that you stick to it, no matter what.
  • Communicating effectively – Having courageous conversations can be tough but is often necessary for the wellbeing of the whole family. Have you told your loved one that you are concerned about their drinking? We find it more useful to have these conversations when a loved one is sober.

While you’re walking on eggshells trying to anticipate the next blow up, your alcoholic loved one may in fact be dreading the thought of having to spend so much time pretending to be normal, so they don’t disappoint you… all the while they are falling apart inside and hoping people don’t notice.

Alcoholism can be a lonely disease and the alcoholic’s behaviour not only forms a wedge between them and others but often leaves them feeling like they don’t belong and don’t fit in. Often the alcoholic doesn’t know why they do the things they do and wish they could be different. They wish they could stop… but they can’t.

If you’re struggling with someone else’s drinking, it’s important you seek the support you need. Our Family & Friends page has some fantastic resources to help you better understand alcohol dependency and give you the tools you need to navigate the disease of alcoholism. We also encourage you to reach out to Al-Anon Family Groups, a 12 Step fellowship especially for those affected by someone else’s drinking.

Find out about our Social Detox  and 30-Day Residential Rehab programmes and how they could help you or your loved one.