by Debbie Davis
How can I help someone close to me that I feel has a real problem with alcohol? I am referring to my Mom who drinks on a daily basis starting about 4:00 pm every day.
It is very hard to watch someone you love struggle with a drinking problem. It can leave you feeling helpless and worried. It’s usually very difficult to get the loved one to see that they have a problem or admit it even if they do see it. Your mom may either be in denial or she may not be ready to get help. For this reason you are wise to be cautious in your approach towards her.
It’s important to remember that you can’t force her to change. She has to choose to make positive changes in her life. She will not do this until she admits there is a problem and feels a desire to fix it. If she is willing to admit a problem, it’s important to get her some professional help. Recovery is very difficult to do alone. Depending on the severity of her drinking problem, she may need treatment, support, and new skills to maintain her abstinence.
First of all, let’s talk about the things that are NOT helpful. Do not try to reason with her. Do not try to guilt or shame her into stopping. Do not enable her by providing her with alcohol. Do not make excuses for her. Do not try to be her rescuer and savior.
The most helpful thing you can do is tell her that you love her and that you are worried about her. Tell her how her drinking affects you. For instance, does it cause you to worry about her health or safety? Does it cause you to be afraid because of her behavior when she drinks? Does it make you sad? Angry? This is not laying a guilt trip but merely telling her the facts about the impact her actions are having on you. Also, tell her that you believe she can improve her situation and that you will support her in doing so.
First and foremost this has to be her decision; however, sharing your feelings may motivate her to take an honest look at herself and evaluate her choices. If she chooses to continue drinking, you need to set appropriate boundaries to protect yourself and continue to educate yourself on alcoholism.
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. I have since settled in North Carolina. I have experience working with various stages of addiction, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, trauma, stages of life concerns and relationship concerns.
I tend to use a person-centered approach which simply means that I meet you where you are and work collaboratively to help you identify and work towards accomplishing goals. I will often pull from CBT when appropriate. I do encourage use of mindfulness and meditation and practice these skills in my own life. I believe in treating everyone with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
I recognize that reaching out for help is hard and commend you for taking the first step. We have professionals available who would be happy to help you move closer to reaching your goals related to your drinking concerns. You may reach these professionals by calling 877-322-2694.