How to Deal with Alcoholic Family Members

Learn how to deal with alcoholic family members who do not want help

Alcoholism comes in many different forms. There are functioning alcoholics, those that are dependent on alcohol yet still tend to their responsibilities. And then there are alcoholics who struggle to keep down a job, shirk their commitments and cause rifts in their family and friend groups. If you have a loved one that is dependent on alcohol you may be finding it difficult to know how to deal with them. This article sheds some light on how to deal with alcoholic family members and how to deal with an alcoholic in general. 

The first step is to ascertain what type of alcoholic dependent your family member is. Those that are highly reliant on alcohol are usually not too hard to identify. They may hide their alcohol consumption, appear incoherent on frequent occasions, display problems in their personal and work life and develop depression. In ways, these highly dependent drinkers are often easier to approach as the addiction is obvious. It is important to intervene with these addicts as soon as possible, due to the potential health problems they could be facing.

Those who appear to be functioning alcoholics may be harder to pin down. They may themselves, not recognize that they have a problem, so may be reluctant to receive any help. Due to the ambiguity around what deems a functioning alcoholic, some people may suspect a loved one has an addiction, but cannot be 100 percent sure.

We have compiled some tip to help you deal with alcoholic family members and learn how to talk to an alcoholic.

Be discreet

In the first instance, give your loved one the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to explain themselves in a confidential setting. Raise your concerns with them and ask them if they believe that they have a problem with alcohol. If they are receptive to the conversation, offer them help and support.

Be right by their side

You could offer to attend alcohol programs with them such as Alcoholics Anonymous. They may be keen to take their first step towards sobriety but might be frightened. Your support could be the little push that they need.


If the addicted family member is living with you, make sure that you clear the house of all alcohol. Avoid situations that encourage the drinking of alcohol and advise other family and friends to refrain from bringing alcohol into the house.


If you are trying to help a loved one through their sobriety journey, it is imperative that you demonstrate self-care. It can be very testing and stressful trying to care for an addict, and it can take its toll on even the strongest of people. Furthermore, it can be incredibly frustrating to whether the storms with them, be it through relapse or detox, and you may start to lose faith. Make sure that you take some time for yourself to destress- relaxing music or a yoga class can work wonders!


How do you deal with an alcoholic family member who is completely resistant to your help? You tap into other family members and loved ones for assistance. Situations such as this may require an intervention. An intervention is when people come together to collectively convince an addict that they have a problem. They often have a solution of sorts to present to the addict such as rehab or counselling. A successful intervention needs to take place in a calm and supportive environment. This helps the addict to feel more relaxed and less like they are being confronted.



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