How to Help a High-Functioning Alcoholic

By speaking to them when they are sober, they will likely be able to react more calmly. Organize a scheduled time with your loved one to come by and chat. This way, they can expect to have a one-on-one conversation with you, rather than being sprung into a situation they weren’t anticipating. Understanding how alcohol affects the brain, body, and behaviors are essential. Not only will it help you understand your loved one more, but it will also help you understand what to expect when you talk to your loved one and how to anticipate certain situations. It’s easier to acknowledge a problem if there’s a way to solve it.

  • In one, they’re responsible and sober, never missing a birthday or rent payment.
  • Learn about its causes, symptoms, and treatments here, plus ways to get help.
  • Al-Anon and Alateen – Support groups for friends and families of problem drinkers.
  • Denial is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a refusal to admit the truth or reality of something.” In psychology, it’s a defense mechanism to avoid confronting a personal problem.

The high rate of denial reported here was not anticipated in subjects with higher education and many life achievements, individuals who might have had an advantage in noting that a general alcohol problem was present. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.

How to Help an Alcoholic

Until an alcoholic begins tocontemplatequitting, any actions you take to “help” her quit will often be met with resistance. Even knowing that you may still want to help your addicted loved one when Alcoholism and Denial he is in the middle of a crisis. In reality, that is usually the time when the familyshoulddo nothing. He can drink as much as anyone – and usually more – but rarely becomes visibly drunk.

How do you know he’s an alcoholic?

An early sign of alcoholism is an ability to "hold their liquor." This person can have several drinks and not exhibit any signs of being intoxicated. They have developed a tolerance for alcohol, which means it takes more alcohol to make them feel the way one or two drinks used to make them feel.

Understanding denial is a first step toward helping your loved one with alcohol use disorder. When you realize denial is a coping mechanism, you may feel less frustrated with the behaviors you’ve seen. By doing these things, family and friends are protecting the alcoholic from the consequences of his actions. The alcoholic never experiences the pain caused by his drinking. It’s as if they are putting pillows under him and he is never hurt by his fall.

Alcoholism Essential Reads

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your struggle. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse affects millions of people, from every social class, race, background, and culture. While you can’t do the hard work of overcoming addiction for your loved one, your patience, love, and support can play a crucial part in their long-term recovery. With these guidelines, you can help ease your loved one’s suffering, preserve your own mental health and well-being, and restore calm and stability to your relationship and family life. Are you wondering how you can cope with a drunk mother during the holidays, or how you can help her?

  • It doesn’t reach a certain level and remain there for very long; it continues to get worse until the alcoholic seeks help.
  • Accepting unacceptable behavior usually begins with some small incident that family members brush off with, “They just had too much to drink.” But the next time, the behavior may get a little worse and then even worse.
  • If your loved one has been drinking and you bring up this topic, there is a good chance the conversation will turn volatile.
  • Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.
  • The person does not accept the hid that they have an illness, which requires nothing short of total abstinence from all mind altering drugs, including alcohol, for its solution.

You are not your loved one’s therapist or AA mentor, so don’t try to take on those responsibilities. To avoid burnout, set clear limits on what you’re able to do.


But there is no way for him to ever hit bottom when it’s always covered with pillows. There areself-assessmentsthat can help you determine if you have been enabling an alcoholic.

Alcoholism and Denial

Unlike denial, which is a coping mechanism, anosognosia is the result of changes to the frontal lobe of the brain. Another major deterrent for some people may be chemical dependence. But maybe they drinka few glasses of wine each night to help them fall asleep. Or, they get bombed every weekend but don’t skip a beat at their demanding job. Alcohol use disorders damage the brain, resulting in worsening denial and compromising insight regarding the illness. Friends and family members can also become involved in denial. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine.

Alcoholic Denial Signs

In short, “there’s not a single image of AUD,” points out Sabrina Spotorno, a clinical social worker and alcoholism and substance abuse counselor at Monument. People who are high functioning with a drinking problem “seem to have everything together,” says Matt Glowiak, PhD, LCPC, a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor. They’re able to successfully manage tasks around their work, school, family, and finances, he says. As the disease progresses and his drinking begins to cause real problems in his life, remarkably the denial likewise increases.

  • This will add substantial insurance for the proper development of the precious new convictions cultivated in treatment.
  • Also, use examples that may help gently reflect how their drinking impacts their relationships with their loved ones.
  • Many times, the frustration and stress can be caused by your own actions and choices.
  • Check out our new webinar series that unites recovery speakers from across the country in order to share a collective set of strategies and expertise.
  • Living with someone in active addiction affects every aspect of life—from work to finances, physical well-being to relationships with family and friends.

Perhaps her speech isn’t affected and she doesn’t slur her words, and carries on relevant conversations. They’re highly functioning at work – but as soon as the day is done, he’s ready to grab a 12-pack of beer on the way home, head to the nearest bar, or pour a stiff drink to unwind, as soon as she walks in the door.

Typical Stages of High-Functioning Alcoholism

As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is to watch, you cannot make someone stop drinking. What you can do, though, is offer them steps they can take to address their problem—whether that’s calling a helpline, talking to a doctor or counsellor, entering treatment, or going to a group meeting. They equate their ability to complete certain tasks in the day as evidence they don’t have a problem with alcohol.

Should you divorce an alcoholic?

Couples with one heavy drinker are the most likely to divorce, while couples with either two heavy drinkers or two abstaining partners are much less likely to divorce. Alcoholism can diminish relationships to the point where they can no longer be salvaged.

Unfortunately, this causes the cycle to repeat…indefinitely. If your loved one is truly an alcoholic, he is going to drink no matter what you do or say.

Mindfulness Practices to Step Up Your Recovery

The most important thing you can do is talk to your loved one, set boundaries, express your love and concern, and hope for the best. Addiction recovery is a bumpy road, but it’s one that leads to the most rewarding places. First and foremost, it is essential that you come off as loving and supportive rather than confrontational. This can be difficult, especially if your loved one has caused negative consequences in your life due to their drinking. This means using sentences like, “I am truly worried about your health and the downward spiral you are in” rather than “You need to put down the bottle and get your act together” can make all the difference.

Alcoholism and Denial