Warning Signs of Alcohol Dependence:
A Family Member…
- needs increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve desired effect. (Tolerance)
- when not intoxicated, he/she will go through withdrawal symptoms, i.e., nervousness, tremors (“shakes”), sleep problems, sweating, high blood, pressure, seizures, hallucinations, vomiting and/or anxiety. (Withdrawal Symptoms)
- has persistent desire but unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control his/her drinking. (Lost Control)
- neglects important familial, social, occupational, or recreational activities as a direct or indirect result of drinking. (Neglects Responsibilities)
- is not able to judge the dangerousness of certain behaviours, e.g., having unprotected sex, drinking and driving, being absent minded, becoming violent, and/or drinking lethal amounts. (Risky Behavior)
- cannot engage in an activity without first drinking to calm him/herself down. (Psychological Dependence)
The following are some suggestions for family members to help the problem drinker and the entire family:
- Face Reality. The problem will not go away by ignoring it. Pull your family resources together and help the person identify the problem. A person’s life is more important than your “face”!
- Don’t Blame. Problem drinking can start because of a genetic predisposition, life stressors, or lack of better copying skills. The alcohol problem is not caused by him/her bring weak or undisciplined. Usually, problem drinking is a symptom of some deeper personal or familial issue.
- Communicate. Talk about the problem in an open, non-aggressive, non-confrontational manner. Accept what the person with the drinking problem says as valid. Express your own perception of the problem and how the drinking has affected you.
- Seek Help.
(a) Family members are usually the first to notice the problem and family support is a very significant factor in the problem drinker’s recovery. However, sometimes that is not enough. You may need the aid of a professional counsellor or social worker.
(b) Problem drinking does not only affect the entire problem drinker, it affects the entire family. Each member of the family will be affected in their own unique way. Counselling for family members is strongly encouraged.
- Empower. Let the person with the problem drinking take responsibility for his/her own recovery. You cannot force the person to change. Although, as a family member, you can definitely help by providing support and showing patience, understanding, and trust.
Counselling Will Involve:
- Helping the problem drinker set up an appointment with a detoxification centre, if required.
- Collaborative assessment and treatment planning.
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the person with problem drinking.
- Counsellor/social worker and client work together to explore and build upon what motivates the client to change and to utilize these inner resources to get through the often difficult process of recovery.
- Bringing out into the open the underlying issues which may have precipitated the problem drinking.
- Getting the family (or significant others) to participate in the recovery process.
- Explore and implement strategies for relapse prevention.
The followings are a list of pamphlets on addiction that are available at Chinese Family Services of Ontario:
1. What Is An Addiciton?
2. Choosing Life Without Alcohol: What you can do!
3. Choosing Life Without Drugs: What you can do!
4. Alcoholism and Faimily Members.
5. Drug Abuse and Family Members.
6. Alcoholism and Youth.
7. Drug Abuse and Youth
Note: All pamphlets are written in both Chinese and English.
For additional information or direct services,please contact our office at