Drinking Too Much
In the last ten to twenty years society has learned a wealth of information about alcoholism and the
consequences involved with drinking too much.
Even with this increase in knowledge, it is still shocking when someone discovers a family member with a
To add to the difficulty with knowing how to handle this type of situation is the fact that every alcoholic is
individual and different.
To complicate this issue, one of the main symptoms of alcoholism is denial. Denial can come from the alcoholic,
the family, or both.
The first step to overcome denial and to begin helping the alcoholic family member work through the problem is
for all of the members of the family to separate themselves from the problem.
There are three principles to help each person as the work through this process called The Three Cs.
In order to help the loved one work through their alcohol addiction, the family members must accept that they
did not cause the alcoholism, they cannot cure the alcoholism, and they cannot control the alcoholism.
Neither medicine nor psychology nor any other discipline, with all its scientific knowledge and its continuing
controversies about alcoholism and addictions in general, disputes these simple statements.
The causes of alcoholism include genetic factors, upbringing, psychological makeup and culture--but not the fact
that the family members did not love, please or bully someone enough. So far, there is no cure for alcoholism.
The proponents of abstinence-based treatment, including AA, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and most
professional addiction specialists, believe that alcoholism can be arrested on a daily basis, as long as the
alcoholic abstains from drinking.
Those who disagree promote a philosophy of harm reduction, believing not only that there is no cure but that
lifelong abstinence is an impossibly ambitious goal for certain alcoholics.
As far as control, it might be possible to control someones drinking behavior for a short time but in the long
run it is an impossibility. The alcoholic must control his or her own drinking behavior.
Did You Know
The problems that come from being raised by an alcoholic are generally
environmental and with a lot of hard work can be overcome. Generally, when a child is raised around
alcohol and excessive drinking there is a tendency for that child to use alcohol as adults.
Many times children grow up and conduct themselves and their families in a way that
is very similar to the way they were raised. It takes a conscious effort to "break the cycle" of
addiction that they have witnessed and not carry on that same lifestyle to their children.
The problems that are genetic are more difficult to overcome but once the child is
aware that her or she will have a tendency toward addiction they can change the way they deal with
stress and other risk factors to help avoid alcoholism.
A gene can determine whether a person will have a tendency toward an addiction
toward alcohol. In addition, there are personality
and mental health examinations that can be done that can let a person know if they are at risk of
being an addict.
Professional addiction counselors recommend that if a person has the gene or tests
positive on the examinations they should abstain from the use of alcohol.
The genetic push toward addiction is so strong that to tempt the body by using
addictive substances is considered risky behavior and should not be attempted.
The following are some Dos and Donts regarding how to cope with a family member who drinks too
Do talk to someone,
do find a safe place to go when the drinking gets out of hand,
do seek professional help from a counselor or a program such as Al-Anon or Al-Ateen,
and do talk to other family members about what is going on with the alcoholic.
Dont be ashamed,
dont place blame,
dont ignore the problem,
dont try to solve the problem alone,
dont try to reason with a drunk person,
and dont get into the car with a driver who has been drinking.
Alcoholism, regardless of whether the alcoholic totally abstains from alcohol or just drinks
in moderation, is a controllable disease.
However, alcoholism is not considered curable because the alcoholic can relapse back into
the acute phase of the disease many times with just one drink or one episode of over
Regardless of what happens or how many family members are there to help, some alcoholics will never get sober
no matter what anyone does.
It is most important while looking out for the safety and well-being of the alcoholic family member that the
other family members are diligent to take care of themselves and their own needs.