Like most substance use disorders, alcohol use disorder starts with occasional, recreational use before growing more frequent. The risks of becoming addicted to alcohol tend to vary depending on many factors. These can include genetic makeup, environment, and the possible existence of a co-occurring mental health disorder. However, before considering how to help an alcoholic family member, it helps to know the signs. Ocean Hills Recovery in Laguna Niguel can help.
Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Use Disorder
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, even isolated instances of alcohol abuse can have significant negative consequences. These can include both short and long-term signs of abuse. Both categories have distinct patterns and traits worth noting.
The short-term physical signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination or inability to walk properly
- Slowed reaction times
- Blurry vision
- Alcohol poisoning
The long-term physical signs of alcohol addiction include:
- Liver damage
- Brain damage, particularly among adolescents
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
- Sexual dysfunction
- Poor hygiene
- Increased risk of cancers
- Weakened immune system
Consequences of an Alcohol Use Disorder
Aside long and short-term effects of an alcohol use disorder, there are more severe consequences. These negative consequences fall into four categories, none of which are particularly easy to bounce back from:
- Immediate consequences: Alcohol abuse can have immediate, direct consequences for health. These consequences range from effects on heart rate and the regulation of body temperature to psychotic episodes and overdose.
- Indirect consequences: These are consequences related to the risky behaviors that often accompany alcohol abuse. Because alcohol is famous for impairing judgment, risky behaviors like driving under the influence (DUI), unprotected sex, and picking fights can follow.
- Long-term health effects: Heavy drinking can lead to hypertension, liver disease, delirium tremens, and cancer.
- Long-term societal consequences: These can include reduced productivity at work or school, higher healthcare costs, unintended pregnancy, the spread of infectious diseases, domestic violence, and many other effects on families and communities.
Six Ways to Help an Alcoholic Family Member
It isn’t easy convincing someone they need professional help for their alcohol abuse. Reaching the point where one is asking their family member to consider treatment often means the person with the addiction is unaware of the problem and the extent of the damage it has caused. When learning how to help an alcoholic family member, consider the following:
#1. Offer Love and Support
Getting help for a drinking problem can be one of the hardest things a person may ever do. Whenever possible, the family member with addiction must know they are loved and supported. They must also know that their alcoholism is a disease, one they need not be ashamed of. After all, love and support are crucial at this early stage of your loved one’s recovery.
#2. Find Out If They Want to Go to Rehab
The possibility of an alcoholic family member recognizing they have a problem can occur. In this case, they might actually want professional help, and should not be rejected if they are vulnerable enough to realize this. If they are willing and able to attend rehab, then selecting the right facility might be all that’s needed.
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#3. Get Familiar with Available Treatment Options
In recent decades, alcoholism treatment has become far more comprehensive. For instance, Ocean Hills Recovery offers half a dozen programs designed to address and treat alcohol use disorder. Before attempting to convince a family member to seek help, one might want to familiarize themselves with the wide variety of locally available treatments.
#4. Discuss Available Options with the Professionals
While considering how to get a loved one into rehab, one may want to look over their resources and finances, as well as logistic matters like packing a bag and available transportation. One may also want to consider available payment options. Fortunately, Ocean Hills Recovery can answer such questions.
Reaching out to the alcoholic family member’s health plan may be necessary. Fortunately, addiction and behavioral health treatment are covered by nearly all insurance plans, as it is considered an essential health benefit. However, issues like deductibles and copays can pile up, possibly making paying for treatment a challenge.
#5. Consider Getting Professional Help
One of the best ways to be there for a struggling family member is to take care of oneself. Helping a loved one through this difficult personal journey can have a huge emotional impact on all involved. Those undertaking this journey might consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor during stressful periods, or even on a regular basis. Meanwhile, regular participation in groups like Al-Anon can provide solace and support as it’s designed for the friends and family members of recovering and active alcoholics.
#6. Have a Plan
An alcohol intervention is one of the most effective ways anyone knows for getting a family member to seek rehab. When building an intervention plan, one should invite the loved one’s closest friends and family members, or people who know this person best.
In any event, planning exactly where, when, and how a loved one with an alcohol addiction will be approached is essential, as is what will be said during the intervention. Those who may not be comfortable speaking “off the cuff” might consider writing down what they have to say beforehand. Also essential is having a transportation plan, so that the alcoholic family member can be taken straight to the rehab facility once they agree to go.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is a formal, structured gathering of the addicted person’s friends and family. The goal is to talk with the person with an alcohol use disorder about their behavior and encourage accountability. Addictions that call for intervention include not just alcoholism but illegal and prescription drug abuse.
The most effective interventions often take place with a licensed drug counselor or intervention professional, also known as an interventionist. These compassionate and knowledgeable professionals come in handy if and when the alcoholic family member denies they have a problem or simply refuses help.
Types of Interventions
Before considering whether their loved one needs an intervention or intervention services, one might want to familiarize themselves with the different types of interventions. For instance, the Johnson model is the most popular intervention type. It calls for a counselor or interventionist to help the group confront the addict.
The Field Model, meanwhile, takes a similar confrontational approach, though the interventionist is trained in handling crises during the process. This type of intervention is best if the addicted person is presenting a danger to themselves or others. The Invitation Model, on the other hand, takes a group-oriented approach.
Under this model, the group attends an interventionist-led workshop to explore the addict’s behavior and its impact on the family or group. Keeping in mind these different types of interventions available puts one in a stronger position to help an alcoholic family member. After all, an effective intervention can mean the difference between continued alcohol abuse and active recovery.
Help a Family Member Overcome Alcohol Abuse with Ocean Hills Recovery
When a family member is an alcoholic, there is no shortage of reasons to help them get started on the path to sobriety. Whenever the decision to seek professional help is reached, Ocean Hills Recovery is available. There is no need to suffer alone, worrying if you and your loved ones will make it through another day.
You’re not alone. Contact us today.