11 Minutes

Edited & clinically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
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When someone in your family is dealing with alcohol use disorder may it be your spouse, parent, sibling, or your child it can have a detrimental effect on the entire household. Having someone go through alcohol abuse not only causes ill health to the involved individual, rather it significantly hampers all spheres of their life. Alcohol abuse disrupts the emotional, financial, and social aspects of the individual involved in alcohol misuse. 

Moreover, it takes a drastic toll on people who are connected with the individual who is addicted to alcohol. It is immensely painful and heart-wrenching to see a loved one going through alcohol addiction and facing the negative consequences that ensue. It can be frustrating at times when your loved one under the intoxicating effect of alcohol neglects their responsibilities, making it difficult to run the course of life smoothly for those who are connected with them.

Witnessing your loved one abusing alcohol can strain your relationship with them and this can cause a multitude of negative emotions to build up inside you- anger, hurt, hopelessness, shame, and fear. However, you need to gather all the courage and face this challenge right in the face because helping your loved one recover from addiction can be tough and a seemingly difficult path but it is definitely not unconquerable.

Knowing that you are not alone in this struggle for your loved one will give you hope since millions of people around the globe are involved in alcohol use disorder irrespective of their ethnicity, background, social status, or culture. 

‘Alcoholism’ or ‘Alcohol Use Disorder’ as it is now called is a condition where an individual drinks to such a great extent that he or she develops physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. 

In this condition, alcohol becomes the utmost priority of the individual such that their life revolves around them. They continue to consume alcohol in ample amounts despite the negative impact it has on their life. 

There is no set limit of alcohol beyond which dependence on alcohol develops. However, in the UK, Chief Medical Officers advise the consumption of no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. 

Sadly, the cause of alcohol use disorder is still not known but researchers believe that individuals with a family history of alcohol abuse and those with ongoing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are at a greater risk to develop this condition.

If you are doubting that your loved one or someone you know at work might be dealing with an alcohol use disorder then you can notice certain signs that are indicative of alcohol abuse. 

Following are the signs and symptoms of an alcoholic:

  • Drinking secretively 
  • Not being able to control their alcohol intake even if they want to
  • Drinking more alcohol to get the desired effect due to the development of tolerance
  • Not being able to remember part of their day under alcohol intoxication, also referred to as blacking out
  • Losing interest in activities that they previously enjoyed
  • Becoming cranky and moody if alcohol isn’t available when they need it
  • Increase in the number of absent days at school or work
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family
  • Struggling with finances and poor relationships
  • Hiding alcohol from family 
  • Having a poor appetite
  • Try to hide and cover-up when enquired about their drinking habits
  • Often use alcohol to cope with life stresses or to treat their mental health condition such as depression and anxiety
  • Not taking care of personal hygiene 
  • May experience withdrawal symptoms on not getting alcohol such as nausea and vomiting
  • May experience tremors in the absence of alcohol 

If you recognise any one of these signs, then it is likely that your loved one is involved in alcohol abuse. In order to help them fully, you first need to learn everything about Alcohol use disorder and how it affects the involved individual along with strategies that can help the person overcome it.

Once you have collected all the knowledge about the treatment and recovery you can talk to your loved ones about it and offer them complete support throughout their journey to recovery.  

Alcohol abuse has been one of the leading causes of admissions to the hospital in the UK either in trauma or non-emergency settings. It is estimated that alcohol-related admissions in the A&E make up 15 percent of the total admissions. 

It is estimated that in England, 602,391 people are dependent drinkers whereas only 18 percent receive treatment highlighting that the majority of the affected population involved in alcohol abuse do not seek help.

It has been noted that the figure related to alcohol use disorder has soared in the UK after the pandemic owing to an increase in drinking habits at home. The figures are worrying since there has been a survey showing that 18.1 percent of the adults in the UK are drinking at a ‘higher or increased risk’ from October 2021 till December 2021 which is equivalent to 8 million adults.

This number has been drastically high from the statistics of February 2020 where 16.4 percent of adults in the UK, were involved in drinking at a higher or increased risk which is equal to 6 million adults. Moreover, in October 2019, 11.9 percent or 5 million adults in the UK were drinking beyond the safe threshold. This data clearly indicates how the number of people with alcohol use disorder has surged in the UK since the pandemic.

Similarly, there has been a rise in alcohol-related deaths in the UK. In 2020, there were 8,974 deaths that were registered as alcohol-related in the UK which is an 18.6 percent rise compared with 7,565 deaths in 2019. Most importantly this figure has been the highest since 2001. 

In addition, alcohol misuse is considered the most significant risk factor for ill-health, disability, and death among the age group of 15 to 49 in the UK and it is the fifth biggest risk factor for disability, poor health, and death across all ages in the UK. 

Alcohol misuse and addiction have indeed been stigmatised and it is taboo to discuss these situations which makes it all the more complicated for individuals with alcohol use disorder to ask for help. It takes a significant toll on the families of the affected individuals since they find it hard to share it with anyone out of fear and shame. 

If your loved one is dealing with an alcohol use disorder then you must address your concerns to them and help them in getting out of their addiction. There is no denying that it can be hard to make your loved one open up to you about their alcohol use disorder but when approached in the right way, they will trust you and let you know about what they are going through. Your support will mean a great deal to your loved one, knowing that someone is with them through their journey of recovery is a great boost in itself. So never underestimate your potential to help your loved one. 

Here is a guide on how you can support your alcoholic partner, parent, sibling, or child. 

  • Be supportive and maintain a positive tone as you talk to them

As you try to approach them, practise beforehand what you are going to say. You should not sound as negative and it should not come off as personal attacking. Because if they sense that you are blaming them for their position it is likely, that the conversation will not progress the way you would like and it can even take an ugly turn with them bashing you.

It is best that you show your concern to them in the most polite manner. Use words like, ‘You are very important to me and I can’t see you going through this. I really want to help you with your drinking. Can you please tell me what is disturbing you?’. Try to gain their trust and show them that you really care.

Even if you have delivered your concerns in the best possible manner, be prepared for every response. Most people with alcohol use disorder outrightly deny any addiction and can even become very harsh when someone tries to approach this subject. During this time you have to be patient and maintain your cool. 

  • Choose the right time to talk

It is important that you pick a time when they are sober, and not intoxicated. Since it is a very important conversation make sure you have no distractions around as you talk to your loved one. They should not be preoccupied with anything either or else they won’t pay attention to your concern while something else is bothering them. 

  • Help them open up and listen with compassion

If someone has an alcohol use disorder they will be in denial at first so you have to be patient and make them comfortable so that they open up to you. You can ask your loved one what caused them to develop an addiction, and what stresses in life are they facing. 

Try to figure out the root cause of their alcohol abuse- are they anxious, depressed, lonely, or is something going wrong at work? Listen with utmost compassion when they tell you about the problems they are dealing with. 

  • Offer your support  

Once your loved one has accepted that they are suffering from alcohol addiction it is the time that you extend your support and assure them that you are with them. Do not be judgemental, and be empathetic and caring towards them.

An alcoholic is in a very vulnerable position and if you put yourself in their shoes you will understand their position better and this will help you in deciding how you should treat them. Your loved one may promise to cut back on alcohol and they might even say that they will go cold turkey but it is best that you introduce them to a formal treatment program and support them through the journey. 

It should also be noted that the treatment choice is theirs to make and you can convince them to get help but until and unless your loved one is not willing to enter the treatment you can not do much. 

  • Stage an intervention

Intervention is often the last resort to convince your loved one to seek treatment. To stage an intervention you have to plan and share the consequences and treatment options with your loved one. An intervention involves family, friends, and co-workers to gather and urge your loved one to enrol in a treatment programme. 

However, one thing that should be taken care of is that one should not take this as an opportunity to accuse or abuse the alcoholic, rather it should be an event to build their confidence and trust. 

There is a range of treatment options that you can choose for your loved one to treat their alcohol use disorder. 

  • Take them to your primary care doctor or GP

This is the first step to help as the GP makes the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder and evaluates other health aspects and acquires information about their drinking pattern to gain complete insight into their condition. 

Your GP may prescribe medications to help your loved one deal with alcohol withdrawal. 

  • Attend support groups or a 12-step program

One of the most widely used treatment options is attending support groups to overcome alcohol addiction. Your loved one can attend similar programs offered in your local community and this can help bring them closer to people who are struggling with similar problems and help them to learn coping strategies. 

  • Get Behavioural Treatment through therapies

Behavioural treatment targets the deep-seated cause of alcohol addiction. It involves therapy sessions for the individual. These sessions also take place in group settings and also integrate family sessions for better recovery of your loved one. 

  • Enrol in a residential treatment facility 

So far the residential rehabilitation program is considered to be the most effective. It requires your loved one to stay in a residential facility for a period of 30 to 90 days. The intensive residential stay is specifically designed to help individuals recover to the best of their abilities. 

Studies have proven that detox alone is not as effective as when it is combined with residential rehabilitation. Chances of relapse are higher with detox alone as it targets physical dependence whereas, inpatient treatment works to cut physical as well as psychological dependence.

At our high-end luxury rehabilitation centre your loved one will have an unparalleled experience since everything is arranged in a manner that will suit their recovery process. 

We are aware that going through recovery is not an easy process and we strive to offer you the best of comfort and care to make this journey for you and your loved one less challenging. 

In an isolated setting, amidst the lush green hills, we provide you the perfect ambience to take a break from your environment and rejuvenate while basking in the sun and enjoying the amenities provided to you at our luxury rehab centre. 

In our luxury in-patient setting, you receive round-the-clock care from our highly esteemed staff. Moreover, we have the most professional and skilled team of doctors, nurses, and therapists to ensure your health is of the best standard and that you are recovering optimally. 

When you or your loved ones are admitted to our luxury in-patient rehab centre you go through a detox program that helps your body get rid of any traces of alcohol and to beat the undesirable effects of alcohol withdrawal medications are given that reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. 

Our luxury rehab centre is regulated by the Quality Control Commission ensuring that all the treatments provided at our bespoke facility are according to the prescribed standard. 

One of the prime benefits of our inpatient luxury rehab is that they are discreet. Your privacy is our utmost concern and being a private luxury rehab facility you won’t have it in the official records that you have received rehabilitation. At our esteemed rehabilitation centre you are offered one-to-one care with a tailored approach since we do not believe in the one size fits all policy and cater to you in the best possible manner.

At our luxury inpatient rehabilitation centre, you will be provided with five-star amenities which include your private villa with an immaculately furnished bedroom and a queen-sized bed with premium quality beddings. Our high-end services also include a private chef, driver, and a live-in therapist for your comfort. 

Among the holistic therapies, we offer to include acupuncture, yoga, meditation, equine therapy, art, and music therapy. In addition, we treat you and your loved one with evidence-based therapies which include cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, etc. 

If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder we are just a call away! We assure you that we will ease the journey of recovery for you and your loved one, helping you bounce back to life as a better and improved version of yourself. 

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