If a loved one shows up, ruining family events and holidays under the influence of alcohol or drugs, what should I do?
- Distinguish the love you have for the person from the frustration you feel about their behavior. Talk openly about the two with your loved one and your family.
- Talk openly with your family and the person with the substance use problem about the problem. Don’t keep secrets.
- “Invite them to get help”- pushing/ controlling usually makes things worse. Take care of yourself and your family by setting limits.
- Set limits with your loved one and let them know that you will drive them to a treatment center to get help.
- Set limits with your loved one and let them know that you will drive them back home if they show up or become drunken or drugged.
- Set limits with your loved one and tell them that family time is off-limits for drunken or drugged behavior.
- Make it clear to your loved one and your family that they are “sick”, not “bad”.
- Communicate “stern love”: you care so much that you want to help them get well, rather than supporting them to destroy themselves.
How can I prepare my family for another holiday with someone’s alcohol or drug abuse problem?
- Before holidays and family events, communicate openly with the family and the loved one with the alcohol or drug problem and set a plan.
- Decide upon responses to and limit setting about drunk or drugged behavior and follow-though!
- Let the person with the alcohol or drug use problem know that the family loves them and only wants to help them get better.
- Communicate to the family and loved one the meaning of “enabling”: supporting continued alcohol or drug abuse by avoiding, ignoring, or enabling drunk or drugged behavior.
- Offer to meet with the substance abusing loved one before the event or holiday to discuss how their problem affects you, and to help find them treatment for the problem.
- Call a professional or treatment program before you meet with the loved one so as to prepare for an opportunity to help them get better.
What do I do if my loved one with the alcohol or drug use problem denies their problem or gets angry?
- Communicate “stern love”: you care so much that you want to help them get well, rather than continue to destroy themselves.
- Use the “broken record” technique”: repeat what you are saying if it isn’t being heard or considered.
- Express your caring, compassionate feelings before expressing your frustration.
- Recall and discuss incidents where drunk or drugged behavior ruined family events or holidays. Describe your past excuses for their behavior.
- Attempt to get the help of a professional or a friend who has experience with recovery.
- Step away from the conversation if you find yourself becoming angry or controlling.
What do I do if a family member or members don’t want to deal with or talk about the problem?
- Let them know that secrets and silence enables alcohol and drug abuse to grow into deeper, more dangerous conditions.
- Remind them of past occasions where family events or holidays were ruined by drunk or drugged behavior.
- Discuss possible consequences of your loved one’s continued alcohol or drug abuse.
- Discuss possible outcomes of talking openly with your loved one about their problem.
- Suggest reading material related to alcohol and drug abuse/ addiction.
- Set a plan.