Like the tentacles of an octopus, alcoholism reaches out to all members of the family and wraps them up right along with the alcoholic. As it is often stated, alcoholism is a family disease, impacting everyone within the alcoholic’s orbit. As a result of the turmoil, stress, and despair inflicted by the disease, the family members end up wearing the battle scars alongside their alcoholic loved one.
Families of alcoholics face serious challenges as they attempt to manage the repercussions caused by the disease. The constant worry about their loved one—such as will they return home safely each night, will they get a DUI, will they lose their job, will they be violent today, and so on—can lead to serious health consequences. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, financial fallout, physical or verbal abuse, and a general sense of instability can cause sleep disturbances, poor eating habits, and a loss of interest in one’s own wellbeing and happiness.
Support for families of alcoholics provides one of the most important aspects of surviving the chaos that surrounds alcoholism. Knowing that organizations exist, designed to aid the family members in the journey alongside their alcoholic loved one, can be like finding a life preserver out in stormy seas. Understanding the role of family therapy or individual therapy as part of the healing process, not just for the alcoholic but also for the family members, offers a sense of direction and support that is essential once the alcoholic seeks treatment.
Sources of Support for Families of Alcoholics
As anyone with an alcoholic loved one can attest, the disease of alcoholism has a profound impact on the health of all the family members. The trajectory of the disease is predictable, with increasingly mounting consequences that begin to feel insurmountable. Lies and deception, disappointment, broken trust bonds all begin to take their toll as the alcoholic becomes more entrenched in his or her disease. For the family members, the emotional pain and upheaval that results can become debilitating.
Thankfully, there are organizations that serve as support for families of alcoholics. These include:
- SMART Recovery Family and Friends
- Codependents Anonymous
- Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACoA)
Each of these organizations has a specific focus and philosophy in their approach to assisting the family members of an alcoholic.
How Family Members Can Help Themselves
In addition to seeking out a support group, there are important steps family members can take to safeguard their own health and wellbeing. These include:
- Seek out the help of a therapist. A psychotherapist is trained to help guide clients through tumultuous events or family dysfunction, teaching them tools to access during times of strife.
- Get quality sleep. Sleep is often disrupted by the stress and worry caused by an alcoholic family member. Attempt to go to bed at a specific time each night, and assist sleep by taking a warm bath, sipping some chamomile tea, and possibly take some melatonin to help promote good sleep.
- Get regular exercise. Getting regular cardio workouts, such as daily walks, jogs, hikes, bicycle rides, or gym classes such as spin class or dance cardio, will not only help burn off stress and improve overall fitness, but also increases the production of endorphins which help elevate mood.
- Participate in family therapy. When your loved one is in treatment, participate in the family counseling sessions or family events that are offered as part of the rehab program. The therapist can guide family members towards better communication, managing expectations, and healing the feelings of anger and resentment that afflict families with an alcoholic loved one.
- See your friends. Remain engaged with trusted friends or extended family members who can help ground you during this trying period, while also offering loving support.
- Eat a healthy diet. A nutritious diet provides the fuel needed to meet the challenges of alcoholism in the family. Lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, minimal sugar and alcohol will help provide the stamina needed.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, and yoga can help manage stress during a very stressful chapter in life.
- Engage in activities you enjoy. Do not lose sight of the things that make you happy, no matter what twists and turns alcoholism inflicts on the family. Remain engaged with social events, volunteering, hobbies, classes, and interests to maintain balance in your life.
Solutions 4 Recovery Provides Comprehensive Treatment for Alcoholism
Solutions 4 Recovery is a multidisciplinary addiction treatment program located in Orange County, California. As a leader in the addiction recovery field, Solutions 4 Recovery carves out its own identity by offering a fully customized approach to treating alcoholism, tailored to specifically address each individual’s unique recovery needs. As part of the program, Solutions 4 Recovery offers support for families of alcoholics through couples therapy and family therapy resources, understanding the importance of treating all family members who suffer alongside the alcoholic. For more information about the program, please contact Solutions 4 Recovery today at (888) 417-1874.