Recognizing the Symptoms of Alcoholism in a Loved One

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Recognizing the symptoms of alcoholism in a loved one can be frightening, especially if the family member or friend is resistant to entering treatment. Although getting the person into some type of alcohol treatment program is the ideal, blame, confusion, frustration and fear of the outcome can often make it seem easier to ignore the problem rather than deal with it openly. Recovery is a bumpy, painful process for everyone involved, not just the person suffering from alcohol abuse.

Coping As A Loved One

Many people feel unclear about what they should do if they begin to see the symptoms of alcoholism in a loved one. Remember that it does no good to shield the person from the consequences of their behavior. That only delays treatment and makes everyone feel miserable. While it may be difficult to stand by and watch someone make mistakes, it is best to avoid bailing the loved one out of trouble when alcoholism begins to interfere with their quality of life.

The symptoms of alcoholism can vary widely, but one of alcoholism’s defining characteristics is that the person continues to drink even when that drinking threatens to affect their personal relationships or careers. In other words, drinking in the face of negative consequences. For the spouse, that can be particularly difficult emotionally because of what they fear might happen if they confront the drinker with their suspicions. However, recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, and acting appropriately on that discovery is the first step that family or friends have to take before they can help the loved one involved.

Helping Those Who Have the Symptoms of Alcoholism

Once the signs are recognized, family or friends can stand up and reach out to help their loved one. Until then, intervention is not possible. Once it is, however, there are several things that can be done.

  • Do Not Judge Them: Speaking to your loved one about how the problem is specifically affecting those in the loved one’s environment can alert them to the problem they might not be able to see themselves. This can be done alone or with the help of a supportive group. However, do not be judgmental. The important thing is to listen to them, and wait for them to share their feelings and perspective.
  • Take Advantage of Support Groups: Learn about the various programs available for those with addictions. Talk to an addiction counselor about the symptoms of alcoholism, and check out the local treatment programs. Be ready with those helpful resources in hand when the loved one is ready to admit they have a problem.
  • Offer Love and Support: Regardless of what the loved one decides to do about the symptoms of alcoholism that they exhibit, always offer love and support. In addition, once treatment does begin, do not forget to be patient. Recovery does not happen overnight. Those addicted to alcohol have to overcome the emotional reasons they started drinking, as well as find appropriate reactions to handle the stress and negativity in their lives. Do not be in a rush for them to change.

It can be hard for family members to cope with the signs and symptoms of alcoholism, and even harder to cope with the consequences. Remember that a person cannot be successful in treatment until they want to. There is help available for loved ones even if the person suffering from alcohol abuse does not want to get help.