Helping a Family Member with Alcohol Use Disorder

Millions of Americans – of all income levels, ethnicities and social groups — misuse or are dependent on alcohol or other drugs. Most people who suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD) have family members whose lives are also negatively impacted by the disease. People with AUD may experience financial, health, and job problems that can make their home lives stressful and chaotic.

Children in high-conflict families are especially vulnerable and are at a higher risk for emotional, physical, and mental health problems. Parents who have a substance use disorder are more likely to be involved with domestic violence, unemployment, divorce, legal issues, and experience health and psychological problems. Their ability to parent effectively is compromised and their behaviors may sometimes come across as unpredictable, confusing, and frustrating to those who love them.

The first step in helping a family member who has AUD is to educate yourself about the disease. Find as much support as you can – whether it’s through Al-Anon or other services that are available. You might also consider talking with a therapist. The good news is, people with AUD and other addictions can and do recover. Substance use disorders, including AUD, can be effectively treated with detox, medications, and behavioral interventions.