Family Recovery Series: 6 Things You Can Do to Help an Alcoholic Loved One.
Part 3: Set Limits and Stick to Them
Last month we talked about the need for family members to get support for themselves. In fact, most family members cannot successfully take the third action in this series if they do not do the second. Dealing with alcoholism is just too much for most of us.
If you’re new to this series, please read the first two entries:
The third thing we can do to help an alcoholic loved one is:
3. Set Limits with an Alcoholic Loved One and Stick to Them.
We are more likely to set limits once we understand that we cannot control or cure our loved one’s addiction to alcohol. If this idea is new to you, please go back to part one of the series. When we accept unacceptable behavior we are negatively impacting our own lives and at the same time protecting them from the natural consequences of the behavior. This reduces the motivation to change. If you set a limit and establish consequences, it is important to follow through.
It can be difficult – it might feel like we are abandoning our loved one at the time of their greatest need. Setting limits can also be very challenging because the consequences of our loved one’s drinking may also negatively impact us. It may be hard to find a way we can protect ourselves and still allow our loved ones to face the consequences of their drinking.
There are no easy answers. This is another reason we really need support for ourselves.
The truth is an alcoholic needs to learn to take responsibility for their own destructive actions. It is our responsibility to care for ourselves. Only then are we better able to help.
Participants in our Family Program begin to trust that setting limits cannot cause their loved to drink. They start to really believe that nothing they do or don’t do can make someone drink. Setting limits may actually encourage a loved one to seek recovery, or stay on the course of recovery if they’re tempted to drink again.
I feel better prepared to face this dreadful disease and be part of our son’s recovery and not help him prolong his disease unnecessarily. I feel stronger and renewed.
~ Mother of an alcoholic, participant in The Retreat Family Program
It is important to remember that you are not alone. We are always here to help. For More Information Download our Free Family Brochure!
*Next Month: The fourth thing you can do to help an alcoholic loved one: Work Together as a Family.