How to Help the Family of an Alcoholic – Part 2

How to Help the Family of an Alcoholic - Part 2Many families of alcoholics face an incredible financial burden due to the daily budgeting for alcohol and other expensive addictive substances such as cigarettes or illicit drugs. Often the non-alcoholic spouse must work double to support both the habit and the needs of the rest of the family-especially if the alcoholic spouse is no longer able to bring in an income.

You may feel that your assistance will have an enabling effect. If you continue helping out, will the alcoholic feel less inclined to get on his own two feet and help himself? The truth is often that the alcoholic is too far gone to conjure up such a plan for taking advantage of your generosity. Your actions will likely have very little impact upon the alcoholic-if at all. He or she has retreated into an alternate universe, living only to drink.

Your caring gestures serve a family who is suffering deeply-physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Bringing over a meal or offering other types of practical service like caring for small children does not fuel the problem, condone the actions of the alcoholic, or give license for the bad behavior to continue. The family of an alcoholic is in a very bad situation. They may not be ready to seek the help they need, but they will appreciate your efforts in ways you cannot imagine.


As much as the family needs practical help, they also need spiritual help. If they are believers, their faith is being tested severely in this trial. You can bring them before God in prayer when they may not have the strength to pray themselves. If you attend a Bible study or prayer group, you may ask for the prayers of these members as well (always maintaining confidentiality and anonymity). Commit to praying for the alcoholic and this family consistently. You may be pleased to see what God may do in their lives before your eyes.

Help Them Get a Break

The alcoholic in the home is a constant albatross and an unceasing stress. Anything you can do to help the family get a little vacation from the situation will be a welcomed treat. Invite the spouse over for a meal or to a movie or other activity of shared interest.

Even a break from the topic itself can be a relief. The mind of the non-alcoholic is perpetually consumed with the alcoholic. What will he do? What will she say? How are they going to meet their financial responsibilities this month? What is going to become of the children after living in this environment? How are we all going to simply make it through the day? Help the non-alcoholic take a little mini-vacation by turning the topic to something else. Do you have interests in common? How can you help to provide a little healthy distraction from such a constant and insurmountable problem?

Invite the children over to your house as often as your schedule allows to give them a break from their circumstances. Have some board games or craft projects on hand to entertain them. They need the opportunity to experience life outside of a dysfunctional home. You can provide a short-term safe haven and a sense of normalcy and security that is sorely lacking in their own lives.

Suggest Al-Anon

Many families, in the midst of their alcoholic nightmare, don’t have the energy to seek help for themselves. Are you able to watch young children so that the non-alcoholic spouse can attend a meeting? If you are in Al-Anon yourself, could you offer to help the individual get to a meeting?

Understand that the non-alcoholic spouse may not be able to leave the home. Many alcoholics are wildly controlling and possessive and will not allow the spouse to get the help he or she needs. Perhaps you could share your own experiences with Al-Anon and if the non-alcoholic spouse seems interested or willing, you could offer to bring over literature for them to read at home.

The devastation of an alcoholic home is painful to watch, but it is not beyond help. The painful journey that this family is on provides ready opportunities for you to serve and assist. You won’t put an end to the alcoholism and you can’t save the family from wreckage, but you can provide love, empathy, and practical service to people who desperately need it. You may never fully know the positive impact of you actions.

Part – 1