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Cure for Alcohol Problems - is alcohol addiction destroying you and your family?

Published 22/08/2009

A July 2009 survey published by charity Action on Addiction shows that almost one-third of children under 16 in the UK live with at least one binge-drinking parent. While their parents may not be clinically dependent on alcohol, the researchers point out, excessive consumption can still lead to impaired parenting capacity.

In fact, anyone who lives with someone who won't admit there is a drinking problem - young or old - suffers as a result. For that reason, it is often said that alcoholism is a family disease. Where there's alcoholism, there's dysfunction.

So what can family members of a person who is not strong enough to stop drinking do - both for themselves and the alcoholic? The first step is to stop blaming themselves, says Sue Allchurch, research director of Linwood Manor Group.

"It's very common for the families of alcoholics to believe that if they acted differently, the drinking would stop, and to adapt their behaviour accordingly," she says. "The truth is that only the drinker can make the choice to change."

They should also stop 'covering up' for the family member - such as clearing away the evidence of drunken behaviour or phoning their workplace to say they're too ill to come to work, when really, they're hung over.

Any attempt to address the issue with the family member should be done in a non-confrontational way - preferably when their loved one is sober. They should be ready to provide practical help and support, but not force the issue until the family member is ready to admit that drink has been a problem for a long time.

When that point comes, it's vital that the whole family enters a period of recovery, not just the problem drinker. "The likelihood is that they will be scared, confused and exhausted, too," says Sue Allchurch. A good alcohol treatment programme, she says, will actively work to ensure that the whole family receives counseling and therapy, giving them the chance to express their feelings and work through the anger and unhappiness that has become part of their day-to-day lives.

They may also wish to seek the support of organisations like Al-Anon and Alateen, who are highly experienced in helping those who really need help with alcohol. Whatever stage the drinker is at, whether they are sober or still struggling, the group offers support and understanding for those who are in the supporting role.

And once the drinker has entered a period of recovery, there is still much work to be done. Even though sobriety offers a new beginning and a chance to restore family life, it can also bring a new set of challenges and adjustments. At Al-Anon and Alateen, family members learn to identify and focus on their own issues, without confusing or complicating matters for the person who really needs help with their alcohol problem in their family.

For free and confidential advice on gaining professional support and care for your own or a friend or family member who is looking for a cure for alcohol problems , why not call Linwood Group on Freephone 0800 066 4173 (or if you are calling from a mobile phone or from overseas, call 01226 698 054 ) to begin living free from addiction?



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