How To Help An Alcoholic In The Family Without Enabling Them

Having a family member who has an alcohol addiction isn’t easy. Watching them slowly deteriorate as they dwindle further into their addiction is heartbreaking. To top it off, you never seem to know the right things to say or do to help.

As much as you want to be helpful for a loved one with an addiction to alcohol, sometimes the way we think we’re helping can actually enable them. The more you enable them, the worse their addiction may become. Below are some tips on helping an alcoholic family member without enabling them.

Be Choosey with Your Words

Having a filter around a family member with an alcohol addiction is important. They’re in a vulnerable state. Bringing up trigger words like “alcohol,” “drunk,” or “bar” are big no-nos when around the person. Also refrain from bringing up particular situations or people that might trigger the person with the addiction, like a bad break-up or the death of someone they knew.

Additionally, it’s critical to be careful with how you say things, for fear that they may be taken the wrong way. For instance, saying, “Your alcohol addiction is unfortunate” can be taken much more harshly than, “You’ve been through so much with your situation.”

Set a Good Example

One of the worst things a loved one can do when a person in the family is suffering from an alcohol addiction is drinking around them. They might think, “Well, they can’t drink, but I can’t.” That couldn’t be more selfish or enabling.

Instead, the goal should be to set a good example around the family member suffering from an alcohol addiction. Don’t leave out alcohol, and refrain from drinking around them. Seeing you drink is only going to encourage them to do the same.

Refrain from Playing the Blame Game

Someone with an addiction doesn’t want to hear the “reason” for their addiction. Don’t go around blaming another person or a situation for their alcohol addiction. And most definitely, don’t tell the person with the addict that they are the person at fault. “You’re the only one to blame” is one of the cruelest things to say.

When you play the blame game, you not only make the sufferer feel less supported but also enable them to keep drinking. After all, blaming someone or something essentially gives them an excuse to continue their behavior.

Don’t Brush it Under the Rug

You might think ignoring the situation will prevent you from making matters worse. In reality, it can be one of the worst things to do. To the person suffering from the addiction, it makes you appear careless and unalarmed regarding their addiction, which in turn can make the sufferer feel less support and more compelled to continue drinking.

Do you have a family member dealing with an alcohol addiction? Start researching for a trusted drug and alcohol rehab center near you.


Helping a family member with an alcohol addiction is easier said than one. One thing is for sure, though: enabling them is one of the worst things you can do. By being careful with your words, setting a good example, not placing the blame on anyone or anything, and by acknowledging rather than ignoring the situation, you can avoid enabling them.