Trying to help a loved one who is struggling with alcohol use can be emotional, painful and even frustrating at times. You want to help them get better and they may be resistant and believe that they do not need help. You may be wondering do I need to set boundaries with an alcoholic?

Setting boundaries is often times necessary, as is setting expectations and consequences when dealing with an individual with excessive alcohol use. Telling your loved one how offended you are by their behavior, expressing how hurt you are over their alcohol use and that you are not willing to go any further if they continue to use alcohol are all reasonable; however if you do not follow through with the consequences, then your comments are empty.

Setting boundaries with an alcoholic and following through on the expectations and consequences for noncompliance are key components to helping your loved one overcome their alcohol use. Your loved one needs to know that if they continue with their use, there will be repercussions.

Set boundaries that are realistic. You are frustrated with your loved one, but telling them in the disappointment and aggravation of the moment that you are going to kick them out if they take another drink, is not very realistic. It is important to understand that boundaries will not “fix” excessive alcohol use. Getting your loved one in a program that can address their alcohol use is a step in the right direction to helping them overcome their alcohol issues.

Traditional rehab treatment programs set up the people who participate in their alcohol recovery programs to fail by telling their members that they have an incurable disease and that they will relapse. Programs such as 12 step programs excuse the behavior and go so far as to tell the members and their families for that matter that their alcohol use is not their fault because they are diseased. There is no accountability for the behavior, no acceptance for responsibility and no consequences for the behavior.

It is very important that you do not refer to your loved one as an alcoholic at any point. This can deter them from moving beyond substance use permanently. Instead it is more important for you to inspire them to change, and provide them with hope and empowerment for a substance-free future.

The truth is that your loved one is not diseased. There is no evidence that alcohol use is a disease and there is no such thing as an alcoholic gene. Giving a “pass” on behavior does not help the individual struggling with excessive alcohol use; it prolongs the inevitable of repeat relapse, because the individual thinks it is expected. Set up different expectations and you will get different results.

St. Jude Retreats offers a six week, cognitive behavioral education program that teaches guests to use self change and self awareness to reevaluate their choices and decisions and to make productive decisions and choices. Our guests learn to form positive and purposeful habits and behaviors that lead to a future that is enhanced and enriched. The St. Jude program builds self confidence and self esteem and our guests are empowered.

St. Jude Retreats is not a 12 step program, we are a non-treatment program and our guests discover that they can have a life that is permanently free from alcohol use.