How to Open Up About Your Alcoholism to Family
Only 6.7% of the adults with AUD received any treatment in the past year. The consequences for the individuals, their family, friends, and society are huge.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step in a person’s journey towards sobriety. But for some, it’s the hardest step to take. If you need help coming clean, check out this article.
Admitting You Have a Problem
Admitting you have a problem can be difficult. When that problem is alcohol or drugs it’s doubly difficult. Self-delusion, embarrassment, and fear are obstacles to honesty about alcohol.
Sometimes alcoholics are convinced that alcohol is their only way of coping. The self-medicating alcoholic assumes others will not understand and perhaps stand in the way of their answer to the problems they face. Alcohol alters perception so they may even believe they are doing fine.
Believing they are different and other people can’t understand their situation means the alcoholic isolates themselves. Not telling means they can avoid confrontation with friends and family. The stigma associated with alcoholism means those who are aware that they have a problem fear a backlash or are too ashamed to admit it.
All this means that if you are considering opening up about your alcoholism to your family, perhaps you could do with some help with how to tell someone.
You Need to Prepare for This
Making an important step in your recovery like telling people about your problems with alcohol is worth preparing for. Here are a few things to do before you talk to your family.
Begin by working out why you are telling your family about this. Your family can be a source of support and encouragement. Getting them on your side while you address the problem can be helpful.
It’s possible that your family already know there’s a problem. They may have experienced changes in your behavior including relationship issues. This may be part of the process of healing these relationships.
Be aware that some family members may not be able to understand or handle this discussion. It may be better not to talk to children, the elderly, other family members facing alcohol or drug problems, and family members who are abusive or violent.
Make a plan about what you will say. Plan to explain what you want from the discussion. Plan what you will say about your alcoholism and how you would like your family to help. You don’t have to tell them everything, just enough to get there help and support.
Prepare yourself for a range of possible reactions. They may be upset, angry or embarrassed. They may also be encouraging and supportive.
You may have opened up to a friend about your alcohol problems. You may be being supported by a healthcare professional or alcohol addiction specialist. Getting help from these people may be useful.
Having someone with you while you talk to your family may help you feel supported. They can help you with explanations and information. This approach can get across to family members that you are taking the issue seriously.
Having That Conversation
Start the conversation by explaining that you have something serious to talk about. Ask for their patience and support. Warn them that this is difficult for you to talk about.
Say if you are currently using alcohol and be honest about this. Tell them how you feel and how the alcohol is affecting you. Let them know that you recognize that you need help.
Giving a description of how alcohol is affecting your life. Talk about the fears you have about using alcohol. Also, talk about your fears about stopping drinking.
Alcoholism may be associated with work, financial, relationship, health or other problems. Give examples to help them understand your situation.
Be Prepared for Difficult Questions
If you’ve been open about your problems with alcohol, your family may have some questions. You should make sure that you have chosen a time for this discussion when there is enough time to respond. Brushing aside their legitimate questions may mean you don’t get their support.
The questions may include ones about how drinking has affected your work and finances. Have you been in trouble with the police? Has your behavior been affected such as being unfaithful to a partner?
Alcohol abuse can affect all aspects of your life so expect questions on all aspects of your life. Your family may not know what to say to a drug addict or alcoholic. Be patient with them.
Ask for Support
Be clear about what you are asking of your family. There is a clear distinction between asking for support with your recovery and supporting your alcoholism. Support for your recovery could include encouragement, someone to talk to or help to find professional help.
It might be helpful to have a family member to attend consultations or simply drive you to appointments. Say what you want and give family members a chance to say what they are prepared to do. Listen actively and ask for clarification if you need it.
It’s just as important to say what you don’t want. You may be interested in their advice but if it’s uninformed or unhelpful be clear that you are seeking the help of professionals.
If you have been in touch with professional alcohol addiction services you may have been given information about alcoholism. There is a great deal of ignorance about alcoholism and how it can be treated. It may be useful to share what you have learned with your family.
They are better able to support you if they know something about alcoholism and the journey you have been on. Some information about the next few steps will also be helpful to them.
After the Conversation
Recovery is a day to day process. Explain this to your family. Give them a chance to take on board what you have discussed with them.
There may be more conversations to have as questions arise and the information sinks in. Being appreciative of the support, no matter how small, will encourage it to grow. Admitting you have a problem is a good start.
To learn more about help with alcohol problems, click here.