"Alcoholism is believed to run in families... Alcoholism is believed to run in families, according to a publication by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). If you are keen to know how to help an alcoholic sister, it will take courage and commitment from you to assist her in acknowledging and addressing her addiction. Family intervention is often the turning point for many alcoholics and while it may be hard work sometimes, the end result will be rewarding for you both.
Educate Yourself on Alcoholism
Before you approach your sister about her drink problem, you will want to be well educated on what alcoholism is, as well as learn more about the various treatment options. Not only will this give you a deeper understanding of your sister's addiction, it will help you support her in the best way possible. As well as answering her questions, you will also have an idea of what treatment is involved, so you can reassure her that seeking professional help is in her best interests.
Opening up the lines of communication between you and your sister is important and will enable you to honestly address the fact she has a drinking problem. You may face resistance from her at first, as alcoholics are often in denial about just how bad their addiction is. She may believe she controls her drinking, rather than the other way round. It is also important you approach her before discussing the issue with any other members of the family. If she thinks you have been telling people your sister is an alcoholic, she may well lose confidence in you and that is important if you want to foster truth between the two of you.
Offer Your Support
Make it clear you are willing to be supportive in any way she needs. If she needs help with her family or in other areas of her life, ensure you are there for her. Avoid offering financial assistance, as she may be tempted to spend the money on alcohol. Instead, offer to look after any children she may have while she visits her doctor. You could also pledge your support by offering to attend support groups with her. Your concern and love are important, as many alcoholics are worried about seeking treatment through fear of how their families will react, says a NIAAA website article. You can also help your sister research treatment and rehabilitation options, as well as just letting her know you will be there for her throughout her treatment and recovery.
Prepare for Possible Setbacks
Your sister's treatment will be a testing time for her, you and the rest of her family. It is not unusual for an alcoholic to relapse during the first 12 months of recovery; therefore, it is important you learn how to handle these setbacks. It is completely normal to feel frustrated with your sister, especially if it appears she is not taking her treatment seriously. It is essential you do not argue with her about her alcoholism or try to make her feel guilty about it. Unfortunately, you can only be there for her in a supportive role, the actual treatment is down to her. As frustrating as it may get, it is important you learn to resolve conflict without bringing her alcohol addiction or treatment in to it.
Get Support for Yourself
According to the NIAAA, one person's alcohol addiction can affect up to four family members. Therefore, it is important you and other family members seek support for yourselves. Groups such as AlaTeen and Al-Anon both run support groups designed specifically for relatives of alcoholics. Having the courage to tell a group "my sister drinks too much" is the first step in coming to terms with your sister's illness. You will also be able to help other people looking for information on how to help an alcoholic sister.