Most people’s idea of an alcoholic is someone always falling around or slurring their words after drinking far too much alcohol, or someone who drinks spirits from a brown paper bag on the streets. However, some alcoholics are known as high-functioning alcoholics, who continue to provide for their family, go to work, and function normally, despite having an addiction to alcohol. The fact that they can do all this typically fuels their denial of having a problem.
High-functioning alcoholics often believe that their drinking is not harming anyone else but themselves. There is no financial hardship and, because they have a stressful life, they are entitled to carry on drinking to excess as long as nobody else is getting hurt. What they fail to realise is that they are putting themselves at risk of a number of health problems and accidents, which would have a severe negative impact on their family members and which could affect others caught in the crossfire.
How to Confront Your Loved One about an Alcohol Problem
It ‘s hard to know how to handle the issue of alcohol with a high functioning alcoholic. Outwardly, they may appear to have it all, but close family members will be all too aware of their drinking problems and may be extremely worried about how this addiction is affecting them.
As with all alcoholics, a high-functioning alcoholic will see alcohol as a crucial part of his or her life. Despite being able to go to work and put on a show of normality for others, they may be neglecting relationships at home. If this behaviour is allowed to continue, it may mean relationships become damaged beyond repair.
It is extremely hard to confront someone about his or her drinking habits because the standard reaction from an alcoholic is one of anger. Most alcoholics will become defensive and aggressive with those who have brought the subject up. In many cases, this is simply because they do not want to face the truth.
It is important to remember that this is a long process and you may have to confront your loved one a number of times before he or she will eventually open up to the idea of recovery.
What to Consider
As already mentioned, most alcoholics are in denial about their problems. Some will be aware that they have a problem, but as long as nobody else has mentioned it, they can carry on drinking. Once you bring the subject up, you may become the subject of resentment and anger. Do not take this personally – remember this process will take time.
Although it can be frustrating to deal with an alcoholic loved one’s denials, you should try to remain calm. Getting angry will only make the situation worse. You may find that he or she just walks away rather than listen to what you are saying. Do not give up; you have already planted the seed and, eventually, you will get through to him or her.
Many experts believe the best time to approach an alcoholic loved one is when he or she is suffering from a hangover and the idea of sobriety seems more attractive. Remember that you are undoubtedly going to be met with denial and defensiveness, but by continuing to press the problem on a number of occasions your loved one will realise you are not giving up and may begin to accept that he or she does indeed have a problem.
There is professional help available for those with alcohol addictions. Organisations such as Addiction Helper will also provide free addiction advice and support to family members to help them when it comes to the best way to approach their alcoholic loved one. Contact Addiction Helper today for more information on how we can help.