Alcoholism affects the entire family, not just the person that drinks too much. Alcoholism takes a toll physically, emotionally, financially and sometimes even legally. It can destroy a family; I’ve seen it often, back when I was a social worker and even among some of my friends.
Most alcoholics need help in order to stop drinking but unfortunately, many refuse to even admit that they have a problem. Family members often find dealing with this sort of situation frustrating. So how do you deal with a mother who is an alcoholic, when you can see it plain as day, but she won’t admit it?
Seek Support for Yourself
Start dealing with the situation by seeking support for yourself. You can’t force your mom to admit she has a problem or make her do anything about it. You do, however, have control over yourself. Getting support from others relieves you of some of the burden. Consider attending Al-Anon meetings where you’ll meet others dealing with alcoholic family members. You might also want to see a counselor for advice and support. Of course, family members and friends can also provide a source of support for you.
You can’t force your mom to face the truth or make her get help. You don’t have to allow her to disrupt your life or ruin family gatherings, though. Think about where you want to draw the line, talk about it with other family members, and set some healthful boundaries. Maybe you want to ban alcohol at family dinners. Maybe you want to allow your children to spend time with their grandmother only in your presence so you know your mom isn’t drinking in front of them. Communicate your boundaries to your mom in a calm, respectful but firm manner.
Don’t Enable Your Mom
Protecting your mom from the consequences of her drinking makes it easier for her to keep drinking and to deny she has a drinking problem. As explained by an article entitled “Are You an Enabler?” on the Psych Central website, helping her out financially when she spends her rent money on alcohol, making excuses for her when she misses family gatherings because she is drunk or hung over, lying to her boss when she’s too hung over to go to work, and helping her into bed when she’s drunk are all ways of protecting your mom from the consequences of her drinking. Don’t do it. Allow her to experience the consequences.
Support Her in Getting Help if She Chooses to Do So
Encourage your mom to get help but don’t nag her about it. Don’t try to force her to do it or manipulate her into doing it. Suggest she seek a professional opinion about her drinking. Offer to go with her to an appointment with a professional if you’re comfortable doing so but don’t push if she declines the offer. She is responsible for getting help for herself.
Psych Central. Are You an Enabler?
Psychology Today. Ways to Approach the High-Functioning Alcoholic in Your Life.
HelpGuide.org. Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.
Also by this contributor:
Planning an Intervention for an Alcoholic
Sources of Information and Help for Alcoholism