Updated on April 17, 2024
2 min read

My brother has been struggling with a drinking problem for years, and it's tearing our family apart. How can I convince him to seek help without pushing him away?

It can be incredibly difficult to talk to someone about seeking treatment for their addiction, but it has to be done. Fortunately, there are many ways you can talk to your brother about their drinking without pushing them away.

Here are some tips I recommend:

  • Educate yourself: Learn as much as possible about addiction. It’ll help you understand your brother’s condition and empathize with him more.
  • Don’t take things personally: Your brother’s addiction and refusal to seek help isn’t a personal attack. Try to separate his addiction-influenced behavior from his true feelings.
  • Create a safe space: You might get a positive reaction from him if you talk to him in a safe, understanding, and empathetic environment.
  • Focus on your concerns: Avoid using accusatory or judgmental language and show genuine concern for his well being.
  • Listen actively: Listen to what he wants to say with the intention of understanding him. Avoid interrupting or judging him.
  • Avoid enabling him: Don’t give him money, make excuses for him, or take on his responsibilities. Although well-intentioned, it’ll be harder for him to quit if he thinks you’ll always be there to take the fall for his actions.
  • Celebrate small victories: If your brother has made small steps towards getting better, it’s important to acknowledge that, no matter how small. Some recognition can help put him on the right track.

Don’t Forget Your Needs

Although it’s important to talk to your brother about his drinking, don’t forget you have needs too. Focus on what you can control and remind yourself that you can’t force him to get help. 

Here are some tips that can help you through this difficult time:

  • Set boundaries: Helping someone go through an addiction can be stressful, so setting boundaries is important for your own health and well-being.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize your own health and wellness.
  • Join a support group: You can join a support group like Al-Anon which is designed to help loved ones of people with alcohol addiction.
  • Don’t give up hope: Change doesn’t happen overnight, so don’t be discouraged if he refuses help and treatment.
  • Don’t take responsibility for him: Recovery is his journey to make, you can offer support, but you shouldn’t take responsibility for everything he needs.

Remember, you're not alone in this.  The more support you have, the stronger you'll be to help your brother find his way without compromising your health or pushing him away.

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Updated on April 17, 2024

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