Alcoholism: Marriage & Family Heart Breaker!
When drinking is a problem in your family it is easy to deny the problem and think nothing can be done.
- You may live in fear of his/her unpredictable escalating mood.
- You may have tried to talk about it, or maybe you’re apprehensive to talk about it.
- Or you may simply be frustrated and not know quite what’s best.
One way or the other, your life has become significantly impacted by the drinking. People react differently to this kind of stress. It may leave you feeling unsure if you’ll be ignored or confronted. You may not know what to trust.
Who you thought you knew may temporarily vanish! Alcohol can change how a person thinks.
Do you or your kids ever feel like you walk on eggshells due to the drinking problem?
If so, I’m wondering if you can imagine it differently – just what changes can be made. I won’t tell you it will be easy; I will tell you it will be significant, empowering, and you can be supported through it.
I’m guessing there’s risk either way:
- Continued risk of a continued drinking pattern and its impact OR
- Managed risk of taking manageable steps to improve life for you and your family.
Managed risk may look like getting support from coaching or counseling!
Which one will it be?
Adversely affected by actions you might think are beyond your control, or taking manageable steps of action that decrease the chaos step by step.
If the situation is constantly changing from hopeful to dismal, I get the challenge you have.
What if it’s a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde situation?
If Dr. Jekyll is the family member you knew and loved, Mr. Hyde is the one who appears when alcohol takes over. This unwanted character can rear up and create havoc in your family. I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t know.
However, in this situation you need to handle yourself differently. You need to think differently, act differently, and use different strategies.
I assist both family member of the problem drinker or user to:
•1) Understand the specifics of your situation,
•2) Make decisions about what to do in that situation,
•3) Create a plan of steps that move toward the desired goal,
•4) Take action by starting with the first step and moving on to the next,
•5) Maintain the plan,
•6) Tweak the plan when needed.
For the family member concerned about the drinking of their loved one there’s a continuum of options from learning new behaviors that decrease the stress of living with an alcoholic to designing an invitational intervention to get your loved one into treatment and support their treatment with family meetings at crucial times in the process. All of this can be done via in-person, phone or skype.
The process can be initiated without the drinker’s immediate willingness
Unfortunately, it’s not unusual that the problem drinker won’t readily agree to come to counseling. In this situation, know there are strategies that can help the family respond constructively and motivate the drinker to change or seek treatment. Coaching a family member may be that first step.
You don’t have to all be on board at the get-go. The first appointment may include any combination of family members. Alcohol problems in families are not uncommon!
You and your family have been taking quite a hit on this whole alcohol problem. There may be a lot of uncertainty. You don’t know which way to turn, who to trust, or how to talk about it. The problem drinker’s thinking can be distorted. It can infect the family. This is how your thinking can become infected. It’s not your fault. It can happen so slowly you might not be certain if there’s a problem or not.It can feel crazy!
The good news is
When you’re ready to bring positive change into your family, there is support in making change. You can start the process with any number of family members, or initiate it by yourself.Others have done it, and you can too!
“I don’t live around Boulder County. Can you still help?”
Yes! Coaching, Counseling, and Intervention can be done on the phone or skype. Reach out for a sounding board, reality check, support, encouragement to take the next step, and information about the effects of alcohol on the body and brain.
“It’s hard to reach out. It’s hard to change – and scary, too!”
Change is often challenging. However, rarely will your life have significant positive change without your having some pretty significant heart-to-heart conversations with yourself and facing what’s scary. The process moves at a pace that matches your needs and your situation.
The drinking is not really that bad!”
When this is true, it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because the time to change an alcohol pattern is before it causes further damage to family relationships, friends, and work opportunities.
Alcohol changes the thinking process and brain functioning. Without drinking, they may appear to improve, however without the dopamine surges from the substance, depression is likely to set in and the draw to go back to getting the dopamine via the substance is intense.
“I’ve been holding things together for quite some time. I’ve got it covered.”
When you cover a problem you also cover your strengths needed to resolve the problem. The strategy of working silently and diligently to keep peace in the family may work for a while, even years. However over time, it takes a significant toll on you and your family. I’m guessing that a part of you knows this already.
Am I right?
“If a person has a genetic makeup for alcoholism, they’ll never stop drinking.”
The genes a person inherits is only partially responsible for alcoholism. Lifestyle – your friends, the amount of stress in your life, how you manage your stress, and the frequency of alcohol in your life – is also a significant factor.
If the person is alcoholic, cutting down is often not an option. Change can happen! You as a concerned family member can play a positive role in this change process.
“It’s more than just a drinking problem. Can counseling or coaching still help?”
Often alcohol problems don’t come in an individual package. It’s not unusual that individuals and families with alcohol-related issues have other problems, too. Usually issues play off each other. Often problem drinking makes the family more vulnerable to other problems, such as:
- Relationship and sexual issues
- Spousal or Child abuse
- Volatile and hurtful arguments
- Addicted and distorted thinking
- Destructive behavior
- Children acting out destructive patterns
- Legal and financial problems
- General chaos in the family
“I don’t want to intervene because I fear making the situation worse and loosing my relationship with the drinker”
Let me assure you that intervening in a family drinking problem does not mean that the relationship will automatically be severed. In actuality, most all alcoholics have very strong bonds with family members and research demonstrates that intervening with the invitational intervention method strengthens the relationship.
Still not sure?
Take the case of Mary and John (not their real names):
Mary and John have been married for 25 years. They have two teenage girls. John is a successful salesman and travels a couple times a month for his job. Mary works part time and sets her schedule to accommodate the needs of the girls. Initially, she described what seemed like a successful life – nice home, country club membership, two wonderful children, great friends, etc.
John’s traveling increased. The marital relationship became distant. Mary became concerned. Often when John was home, he was drinking or drunk. The girls withdrew from the family. Because of the lack of intimacy, connection, and attention, Mary thought that John was having an affair. She talked with him about her suspicion. It resulted in painful arguments. His drinking increased. The eldest daughter moved in with another family.
Mary proposed couples counseling. John refused. This left Mary with a choice – 1) go to counseling alone, 2) initiate coaching sessions to take steps to change how she reacted to the drinking, 3) initiate an intervention that encouraged her husband to go to treatment, or 4) continue trying to persuade her husband (which was frustrating). She’d thought about counseling for quite some time, but thought it was an admission of failure. After a particularly painful situation with Mary’s eldest daughter loosing respect for Mary, she decided it was time to make a change.
After five sessions:
- She learned to manage her own emotions
- She spoke with her husband so that he would listen
- She felt better about her behavior in the relationship
- Her relationship with her eldest daughter improved significantly
- She initiated an Invitational Intervention
- Three weeks later, John went into treatement
Mary took a step that really paid off. What about you?
Finding the Right Fit for You!
Research shows that the single biggest factor in how well coaching or therapy helps the client is the quality of the relationship between client and coach or therapist. It is important, therefore, to check whether this is a person you feel comfortable with and can trust.
If you’d like to explore either coaching, counseling, or an Invitational Intervention and see if we click, email me to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult.
I’ll get an overall understanding of your situation and determine fit on my end. You do the same!
Why Jeff Jones?
I think it’s valuable to know that I have alcoholism in my past, both from training and personal experience (3rd generation family patterns of alcoholism).
My credentialed professional experience includes:
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Certified Addictions Counselor (CACIII)
- A.R.I.S.E. Inteventionist
- International Coaching Federation certification (specific to addiction recovery) in progress
- Board Certified Clinical Sexologist (DAACS)
- A master’s degree (MA) in couples and family counseling
- National Certified Counselor (NCC)
I’m highly skilled at both holding the energy of chaos, and working both sides of an issue to resolution. The two sides may be in the context of interpersonal conflict or it could be ambivalence within yourself. I look for what is effective and creates movement, balancing personal choice and responsibility with empathy and understanding.
I look forward to providing you with up-to-date information about problem drinking and alcoholism. I will never ever rent, sell, or trade your email to anyone. Never. I appreciate the trust you place in me and take this very seriously. Trust is a significant aspect of this healing journey.