Alcohol Abuse and Family – Effects and Support

Families are not immune from the effects of alcohol abuse. The daily behavior of an alcoholic can eventually lead to a family breakdown if supportive action is not taken. Every level of the family can be affected, from grandparents all the way down to children. Along the way, spouses can also be impacted by the alcohol abuse of their partners.

Understanding the Role of the Family

The simple truth is that alcohol destroys families, but not only because of the addict. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) explains that one of the most important challenges in a family intervention is to make them understand that it is not just the addict who needs help. Of course they need help conquering their addiction, but the family also needs to heal.

Family dynamics can be badly damaged by the addiction of a loved one. Sadly, some families can never recover from the damage, but that is guaranteed if they do not make the effort to heal as a unit. The reason why family healing is required is because members can feel anxious and mistrustful of the addict in their family. That has to be addressed if the addict is to make a lasting recovery.

Family Intervention Types

Throughout the recovery process, there are three possible types of intervention in family counseling, as outlined by Capello, Velleman, and Templeton (2005). The first type intervention entails working with families to encourage their addicted family members to enter into a treatment program to start their recovery.

Another type of family intervention is to include them in the treatment process of the addicted family member. By involving family members in the treatment process, the counselor will be able to examine how the addict responds around in their family member. Understanding the possible triggers of addiction will help them to stay sober in the long-term.

The final type of intervention is exclusively reserved for the family system itself. The purpose of this intervention is to address the personal needs of members who have been majorly impacted by the addiction of others. This can help members to deal with stress and help them to reconnect with each other.

Vital Skills for Family Recovery

NCADD has identified a vital set of skills to help families work through addiction as a unit, giving addicts the best possible chance of a successful recovery. A frustrating truth of family recovery is that it can take years after an addict has completed their recovery to make meaningful progress. That is why patience will be an invaluable ally. These NCADD skills will also help:

  • End isolation by joining a support group.
  • Take the time to educate your family about the struggles of addiction.
  • Develop communication skills to prevent addiction from destroying contact.
  • Focus on assuming a responsibility for your own behavior.
  • Avoid repeating your old behaviors in relation to conflict in issues. These are highly unlikely to help improve the situation.
  • Engage with any children, as they will be going through their own recovery process, even if they have no awareness.
  • Use the resilience of your recovering family member to aid the wider recovery of your family.
  • Pursue both individual activities and family activities to ensure complete fulfillment. Encourage the same for all members.
  • An addict is not the only person at risk of relapsing into old, damaging behaviors. Complacency is an enemy for all other family roles. Develop strategies to avoid relapsing into old behaviors.

The Importance of Family

Past research by various scientists and academics have determined that family can dramatically increase the likelihood of recovery from alcohol addiction. Throughout an addict’s first year of sobriety, they will have to fight off a multitude of mental impulses telling them to relapse.

Having the support of a loving and understanding family will make them more likely to make it through that tough first year. After the first year, they have made it through the toughest portion of their recovery.

Family was not always such a priority in alcohol recovery, but thankfully that has changed. Many addicts can now have the confidence to call parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and siblings to tell them when they are struggling. Beating addiction without that support is infinitely more difficult.