8 Steps to Take When Your Spouse Displays Abusive Alcoholic Behavior

what not to say to an alcoholic abusive alcoholic behavior

Marriage is such a beautiful part of life. It changes your life plans for the better, turning individual goals and ideas into thoughts of planting roots and starting a family. It’s exciting, supportive, and of course, incredibly loving.

Sometimes, though, people change after “I do’s” are said; the story starts to change for the worse. Your spouse may become distant, begin to spend more time out of the house or show less interest in you while at home.

In the worst of cases, he or she becomes abusive. This often happens with alcoholics. Although alcoholism and abuse don’t necessarily cause one another, they tend to correlate.

If the person you love has been picking up the bottle a lot lately and putting their hands on you too, it’s time to take action. Here are a few steps you can take to solve the abusive alcoholic behavior happening in your home.

1. Distance Yourself When They Drink

The best thing you can do for yourself when living with an abusive alcoholic is to create distance. Spend more time out of the house instead of going straight home after work. Fill your schedule on the weekends so you don’t leave yourself available to the alcoholism and verbal abusive happening at home.

As effective as this can be, it’s much easier said than done. After all, it’s your home too! Not to mention, you probably still care about your spouse even with the issues they’re dealing with and putting on you.

But, the point is to take care of yourself first. Taking the space you need to avoid a verbal attack or physical confrontation helps you start the healing process. From there, you can better assess the situation between the two of you and figure out how to deal with an abusive alcoholic wife or husband.

2. Talk to Them When They’re Sober

What happens if you come home in the middle of your spouse’s drinking activities? Distance yourself somewhere within the home to avoid the abuse that may come your way. Try not to say or do anything that will set them off either.

The best thing to do is wait out the effects of the alcohol. Then, start a conversation with your spouse when he or she is sober.

Watch Your Words

As you sit down to talk about the alcoholism, be careful of what you say. The last thing you want to do is bring out the abusive tendencies your partner has taken on.

Instead, try to create a safe space for the both of you. This is one in which the other person doesn’t feel threatened or attacked for their behavior. Such a setting also protects you from the insecurity and shame that can cause abuse.

Try Not to Place Blame

Confronting an abusive alcoholic about the pain they’re causing you is like poking at a sleeping bear. You don’t know what will be the thing that sets them off.

One subject is definitely off limits, though. You can’t place blame. This is sure to send your spouse into a whirlwind of intense emotions and make them act out.

3. Avoid Ultimatums

Another subject to avoid is an ultimatum. Sometimes, partners of abusive alcoholics threaten to leave or get a divorce if the other person won’t clean up their act.

This may sound reasonable enough to you. But to the other person, it can feel like they’re put in a corner – and they’ll do anything to get out. Offering an ultimatum is pretty much a sure-fire way to experience even more abuse.

If you do feel like leaving or a divorce is the right answer, make the proper preparations before bringing it up. You should be ready to walk out the door and not look back. Maybe even make arrangements to have other people present when telling your partner about your decision.

4. Protect Your Children and Pets

Speaking of other people, consider the safety of your children and pets. As heartbreaking as abusive alcoholic behavior can be within a marriage, it’s just as scarring on little kids or household animals.

Separate them from the situation as much as possible. Put your kids in after-school activities and send them to grandma’s house on the weekends. Also, consider giving away your pets or at least having them watched by someone else for a little while.

5. Throw Out All the Alcohol in the House

It’s a good idea to get yourself and the other people you care about out of the house. But, the first thing you should actually get rid of is all the alcohol.

Clean out the adult cabinet and do a search for any hiding spots. Remember, alcoholics will do anything for a drink so they tend to have more than one stash lying around. Find them and get rid of them.

Keep in mind this may result in a violent verbal or physical outbreak. If you think this is the case, get the alcohol out then get yourself out ASAP.

6. Ask Your Spouse to Spend a Few Days Away

While you’re weighing your options of where to go to get out of the house, consider the alternative. Why should you be the one to leave if your spouse is the one causing problems in the home?

If you can, kick them out. The thing about this is that it can end up in a serious outbreak if you aren’t careful. You may have to trick your spouse into going away.

Take a drive with them and drop them off at their friend’s place. Invite his/her friends over for an outing and have them help you check this person into rehab instead. These measures may sound extreme, but they’re best for the safety of everyone involved.

Attempting to kick your spouse out alone could backfire. Still, continuing to coexist with them – along with their alcoholism and their abusive tendencies – is not good for anyone, either.

7. Stop Ignoring the Issue

You may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when figuring out how to live with an alcoholic husband or wife. But, this is no reason to let the problem continue to grow.

The more you keep yourself from taking action, the worse the problem will get. Even if you’re afraid, unsure, or just plain tired, you have to do something.

Begin with baby steps if you have to. Seek treatment for yourself, then figure out how to help the person you married. You may need medical attention for the physical abuse you’ve undergone, and definitely some sort of emotional support for verbal abuse.

There are support groups available for victims of abuse. You can also look for a therapist to talk to or reach out to a friend or family member who’s dealt with something like this before.

Little by little, you will start to heal, which sets the foundation for you to help your spouse recover as well. Who knows, your marriage may even turn around completely.

8. Seek Professional Help

Just as you need support to confront the pain alcoholism and abuse have caused you, you should look into professional help for your spouse as well. The two of you can’t come out of this situation alone. You need the right professionals to guide you through such a dark time.

So, who do you call first? The cops for abuse and domestic violence? A withdrawal and recovery center for alcoholism?

That’s a decision only you can make, but you do have to decide. If you feel like you’re stuck with your spouse out of fear, legal authorities may be your safest way out. If you still want to mend your marriage and get back to a better place, rehab is your best bet.

There are a few other things to think about. You could try hosting an intervention for your spouse before sending them off to rehab. There’s also a non-emergency police line you can call to have an officer come to your home and escort your spouse out.

Whatever you decide, though, do it with your safety in mind. As much as you may care about your husband or wife, you have to watch out for yourself, too.

When Enough Is Enough: Changing Abusive Alcoholic Behavior for Good

Maybe you’ve tried some of the methods of dealing with abusive alcoholic behavior already. Maybe this problem has only started to happen recently and you want to stop it as soon as possible.

Either way, there is hope for better days to come. Alcoholism recovery is possible for your spouse, and finding the spark in your marriage again is possible for the two of you.

It will take much effort on both ends. Recovery isn’t easy and it takes a lot out of the alcoholic as well as the people they care about. But, it’s worth the work.

Click here to put your spouse – and your marriage – on a better path.

What Not to Say to an Alcoholic (And Some Better Alternatives)

what not to say to an alcoholic

You know that someone in your life has a serious problem with alcohol.

You want them to get help.

However, you just don’t know how you should talk to them about it — and you’re terrified of saying the wrong thing.

In this post, we’ll cover what not to say to an alcoholic.

From accusing them of destroying your own happiness to telling them that you don’t think they have a problem, we’ll help you to better understand how to deal with an alcoholic.

By the end, we’re confident that you’ll have the tools you need to convince the person you care about to get help.

Don’t Say “You’re Ruining My Life”

If you’re living with an alcoholic, it’s easy to feel like the poor choices they make are destroying your own sanity.

In some cases, their alcoholism may even be causing you professional, personal, or financial problems. Sometimes, you can’t help but want to let them know that they’re responsible for your unhappiness.

However, saying this phrase comes in at number one on our list of what not to say to an alcoholic.

First of all, if you do decide to say this, be aware that it’s probably not going to get the reaction you were hoping for.

The alcoholic isn’t going to suddenly turn around, tell you that you’re right, apologize, pay you back all the money they owe you, and jump right into rehab without a fight.

It just doesn’t work as neatly as that.

You need to remember that denial is a huge part of someone’s personal battle with alcoholism. They’re likely to react incredibly defensively. They may even attack you, cutting you down and bringing up your personal insecurities and the way they think you’ve failed them.

In order to avoid that kind of emotional pain — and the very real possibility of a physical fight, especially if they’re drunk — it’s best tnot to use this phrase.

So, what can you say instead?

Try “I Miss the Ways We Used to Spend Time Together”

This takes the blame away from the alcoholic. Regardless of what you feel, it’s what will take to get them to actually listen to what you’re saying.

Plus, it makes your conversation less of an attack on their character and a serious guilt trip, and more of a longing for the “better times.”

Trust us when we tell you that the alcoholic is very likely missing the way things used to be as well. They just might worry that they’ve already completely destroyed their relationship with you.

This phrase is an excellent tool to use in learning how to deal with alcoholism when it comes to a friend or family member because it reminds them just how much they mean to you.

If they do decide to seek treatment in the future, they’ll remember that you said this. They may even come to you to ask for your assistance in getting help.

Write out a letter about your favorite old activities, an inside joke, or even just highlight a favorite personality trait of theirs. This is an amazing reminder that you care and that you’re still here for them.

Don’t Say “You Don’t Actually Have a Drinking Problem”

When you love someone who struggles with drinking, it can be difficult for you to accept what they’re going through.

You might even feel like their out of control drinking is all your fault. As much as alcoholics want to live in the land of denial, sometimes, the people close to them do that too.

But denying that they actually have a problem — or just telling them to “cut back a little bit” — is exactly what not to say to an alcoholic.

First of all, the alcohol addict has probably already tried and failed to control their drinking several times over. The goal, especially if you want them to accept help, is to get them to admit that not only do they have a real problem but also that they no longer have the power to control it.

So, this kind of denial isn’t doing anyone any favors. It’s also rooted in selfishness.

When you’re honest with yourself, phrases like this point to your concern that the person is going to change too much, or that you’ll lose out on a fun buddy to go out with.

Will you still want to hang out with your friend once they’ve gotten sober?

You need to stop making their addiction about your wants and insecurities.

Instead, you need to help them to celebrate the next phase in their life. We suggest that you sign up for local Al-Anon meetings to connect with other people who are in a situation like your own.

Try “How Can I Help You Find the Help You Need?”

This phrase is a perfect example of how to reason with an alcoholic.

First of all, it doesn’t offer any judgment, but it’s still a subtle confirmation that, yes, you’ve noticed that they seem to have lost control of their drinking lately.

It also establishes you as a reliable and immediate support system. The indication that they’ve opened up to you already about their struggle with drinking shows that they place a high amount of trust in you.

After you say this, you’ll need to have both the time and emotional bandwidth to stand behind your words.

Make sure that you’re truly ready to offer help. This means researching local rehab centers, helping them to tell other people in their life, or even being the person to drive them to a center.

Above all, if an alcoholic opens up to you about their addiction, be respectful and discreet.

This isn’t a subject for gossip. You should only tell others if you feel the addict’s life is in danger, if you know someone has been through something similar, or if the addict has asked you to.

Don’t Say “Rehab Is Going to Turn You into a Completely Different Person”

We’ll keep this one short and sweet.

The goal of rehab is to help the alcoholic to get back to who they were before they started boozing.

It’s not to make them someone they’re not and never have been.

Instead, it’s designed to help them beat these addiction demons and get their lives back on track. They won’t become a “new” person. Instead, they’ll become the best version of themselves.

While in rehab, the addict in your life will learn about several coping mechanisms. They’ll have to confront very real — and very difficult — past issues and even traumas in their lives.

They may even have to start using medication like antidepressants. Most of all, they’ll need to commit to a completely sober lifestyle.

None of this means that the addict inside of them is dead. It can return at any time. As someone playing a supporting role in their recovery, it’s up to you to help them to keep the urge to use at bay.

This will require some serious love and sacrifice on your part. Make sure that you’re really ready for it.

Try “I’m Proud of You and I’ll Be Here for You When You Get Out”

You need to keep in mind that someone doesn’t magically stop becoming an alcoholic just because they’ve successfully completed treatment.

They’ll need lots of love and support once they get out of the insular environment of rehab.

The transition back into the real, sober world can sometimes be harrowing for addicts. Often, this is what ends up causing them to relapse.

Make it clear that you’ll be there to support them through every stage of their journey. You can offer them a place to stay when they get out, or even just invite them to hang out with you and your friends.

You have no idea what kind of a difference even a small gesture like this could make.

What Not to Say to an Alcoholic: Next Steps

We know that understanding how to deal with alcoholism can be a serious challenge.

Above all, we hope you take this list of what not to say to an alcoholic into consideration before you decide to begin a difficult and incredibly important conversation.

If you know that someone in your life needs help, you can rely on us.

Spend some time on our website and blog to learn more about how we can help to make that happen for the addict that you care about.

Reach out to us today to get started!

Enabling and Empowering

Earlier this fall, we shared about enabling and how this act can prolong a fight with substance abuse. The opposite of enabling is empowering. When you feel empowered, you gain self-confidence, determination and possess a better attitude.

Many of our clients have shared stories about how, when they are in their addiction, they are powerless against the cravings for drugs or alcohol. The need for more guides their lives at all costs. One client recently spoke to a group of high school students and explained to them how the desire for drugs can take over and ruin your life. This desire makes you not care about school, work, your family and friends…all things that most people highly value.

Now in recovery, the client explained how she feels empowered without the presence of drugs in her life. She is rebuilding relationships; she is making and achieving goals. With each accomplishment, she feels more and more confident and determined.

While you may feel like you are helping your loved one when you enable them, this will do more harm than good. Encourage them to get treatment; to become empowered.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Three substance abuse myths

Our society is full of myths and the internet and social media seems to those at a faster rate than ever before. The same is true of substance abuse – there are many myths about this disease. has a list of 10 common myths. Today we’ll look at three.

1 – Addiction is a moral failure 
We cannot deny that the use of an illicit drug is a poor decision. The expression “curiosity killed the cat” somewhat applies – for many, the curiosity of what it feels like to drink or experience the high of a drug is very tempting. Many will try a drug once and never again, their curiosity has been satisfied. Others will use again, but opt not to make it part of their lifestyle. Finally, there will be a group that becomes hooked on the drug. Is this a moral failure?

Millions of individuals became dependent on and addicted to the medications prescribed to them by their physician. This is certainly not a moral failure.

Addiction is caused by the body’s inability to process the drug/alcohol. The body becomes dependent on the substance causing severe withdrawal when the substance is not present.

2 – Addicts are easy to identify
Stereotyping has given people a certain image of those with an addiction. Many people envision the homeless man carrying his drink in a brown paper bag, minorities and criminals as the groups of people who they associate as addicts.

In reality, substance abuse impacts all socio economic groups and races. The CDC reports that rates of use among non-Hispanic whites nearly double all other groups. While not all individuals with a substance use disorder are criminals, criminal activity is often fueled by the need to get drugs. Finally, individuals making between $20,000 and $49,000 are showing rates of use that are higher than those who make less than $20,000.

3 – Relapse is a failure
Many people believe that because a person has relapse, they have failed. In reality, relapse is often part of the recovery process – see related blog.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Addiction, the equal opportunity disease

While some diseases seem to target certain demographics and socio economic groups, addiction is what we call the equal opportunity disease. Statistics say it is more likely that women will be diagnosed with breast cancer than men; men under the age of 65 are more likely to have high blood pressure than women of the same age. A national study reports that children from lower income families had more than two times higher odds of being obese than children of higher income households.

Addiction impacts everyone. Often, individuals who begin drug/alcohol abuse at a young age make choices that limit future earnings potential – such as dropping out of high school and having limited job opportunities. We have treated many people who began their experimentation with drugs/alcohol during their college years. While many students will binge drink or try drugs, many “grow” out of this as they complete college and move into their professional lives. Others do not. Many professionals have come to our treatment programs for help, generally with an addiction to alcohol or prescription pain medication.

News reports commonly feature celebrities and athletes who have had struggles with substance abuse – Robin Williams, Amy Winehouse, Bret Favre, Brittany Spears, Elizabeth Vargas, Rush Limbaugh, Daryl Strawberry, and the list goes on and on.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, do not be ashamed…you are not alone.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

What is Recovery?

This month, we’ve been focusing on terms that are specific to the substance abuse treatment world. We’ve defined substance abuse and addiction, types of treatment: detox, residential or inpatient, and outpatient; methods of treatment: evidence-based, 12-Step and Faith Based. We shared the 12-Steps and provided additional information on the background of the steps. Now, it’s time to discuss the goal – recovery.

Many people debate if addiction is a disease or a moral issue. If they agree it is a disease, they want a cure. Sadly, there are many diseases that have no cures, but can be managed through behavioral habits, diet and exercise. Diabetes is one such disease that is very similar to addiction in many ways. If a person does not follow a diabetic diet and monitor their glucose levels, their health can rapidly deteriorate because their body cannot process sugar. Diabetics are never cured, but many live long, productive lives through management of the disease. Addiction is similar – there is no cure, but through behavioral change, addiction can be managed. In the treatment world, we call this recovery.

According to a 2007 article in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “recovery is defined as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship.” It is important to note that the definition includes all three and that sobriety alone is not recovery. While sobriety is abstinence from drugs/alcohol, personal health leads to improved quality of life, including physical health, psychological health, independence and spirituality. Finally, citizenship is the demonstration of regard and respect for others.

Recovery is an on-going process. There is no timetable on how long it will take an individual to reach a life of recovery – each person is different with different motivating factors. Recovery, especially in the newer phases, needs to be nurtured. This is most commonly done by attending aftercare and 12-Step meetings. The goal is lifelong recovery.

Regardless if you are living a life of recovery, or simply maintaining an abstinence from drugs or alcohol, the term used when abstinence is not maintained is relapse. Relapse will be the topic of our next blog.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Defining treatment terms

I caught up with an old friend the other day. For the most part, the encounter was much like when you see a friend for the first time after several years have lapsed. How are you, how is the family, where are you working, what is your job there…?

This particular friend had no knowledge of the substance abuse treatment system and I realized as I saw the blank look on her face that I’d lost her, as if I was speaking a foreign language. That led to an “ah-ha” moment as I thought, how many of our readers have no idea what the terms mean when we are blogging about substance abuse and recovery. That said, our September theme will define many of our treatment terms.

We’ll start with two of the basics, substance abuse and addiction. We’re also going to cheat a little and refer you back to a blog we published earlier this year entitled, “Substance abuse or addiction, which is it?” This piece goes into detail to provide a simple, but comprehensive definition of each and their distinguishing characteristics.

In short, addiction is a physical dependency to a foreign substance – this could range from tobacco to heroin and anything in between. The physical dependency means the body craves the drug and goes into withdrawal symptoms when it is not there.

Substance abuse can be a phase in the process. Many people abuse drugs, but not all become addicted to the substance. One may drink heavily over the weekend, but not drink again for weeks or months. Prescription drugs are abused when they are not used as medically intended, by the person who holds the prescription.

Next week, we’ll look at three types of treatment, detox, residential and outpatient and explain the difference between each.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.


What happens when addiction rears its ugly head at work?

For individuals who are able to function at a very high level despite an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is often co-workers who are the last to suspect or know of a problem. Earlier this spring, I heard the story of a sales person who was an alcoholic. She recorded the highest sales figures in her region and was given an award for this honor at a national company conference. In front of peers and superiors, she took the stage to accept her award, which was a weeklong tropical vacation. She left no doubt in anyone’s mind, as she stumbled to the stage, slurred her words and stumbled back to her seat, that she had far too much to drink.

While a situation like this is quite embarrassing, it can be chalked up to several things – for someone who does not drink often and has a low tolerance, this could be the effect of a glass of wine or Champagne. This event, after all, was a celebration.

As the story was told, the woman received her award and booked her vacation. Midway through the trip, the company officials received a call from the resort informing them of an issue. The woman was being asked to vacate the hotel due to drunk and disorderly conduct on property. Upon returning to work the following week, she was dismissed from her position.

When we see our co-workers day in and day out, we may detect there is a problem. However, in this woman’s case, she worked in outside sales. She did most of her work in other people’s offices, often having lunches or dinners with clients, many involved having a drink. Her clients loved her and never reported seeing her overindulge. However, the company did not feel they could take the risk of exposing business clients to an incident similar to the company conference or vacation.

While each work environment and culture is different, many corporations offer support through a substance abuse policy. If you think about major sports organizations such as the National Football League or Major League Baseball, players who are identified as having illegal substances in their system are often suspended and mandated to treatment before they can play again. Future violations may have stronger penalties, but the initial report often results in an attempt to help. Meanwhile, other corporations may have a zero-tolerance policy. Companies who mandate substance abuse treatment for employees can also make recommendations of residential (inpatient) treatment, or outpatient if the employee is expected to continue working during the treatment period. They may even designate a specific treatment center.

Related blog:  Addiction in the Workplace

Pathways can work with employers and provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.


Understanding and relating to your family member with an addiction

Many families go through life without addiction making an impact on their immediate family. If there is no history of addiction in the family, most people do not know how to understand or relate to the family member who is challenged with a substance abuse problem.

A common question is, “why can’t they simply stop using/drinking?” Or, “why don’t they realize how they are throwing away their life?” Having a family member self-destruct due to substance abuse can be one of the most painful and exhausting experiences in life. You worry for their safety, for their future, for their livelihood. As parents, you’ve raised them to be strong and independent, yet for some reason, they’ve chosen drugs over other life obligations – work, family activities, school…

There are several approaches many family members take. Some will enable their loved one, giving them money for rent and utilities. Others take the tough-love approach demanding that they “straighten up” or all ties will be cut. While enabling is dangerous and allows the individual to continue use at the expense of those who care for them, family members maintain a bond, despite continued and persistent substance use. The tough-love approach has different psychological effects on the person with the issue. More often than not, those in treatment for a substance use issue report low self-esteem and isolation from family members. This can lead to depression and perpetuate continued use.

What can you do to help a family member?

1 – Learn about addiction and how people are physically dependent on the substances they are abusing.
2 – Speak to your family member about the issue – encourage them to admit they have a problem.
3 – Research treatment options in your area. In some cases, it is better to get treatment out of town where is no risk of running into someone familiar in the treatment setting.
4 – Encourage them to consider the options you found – but remember, this is their fight and they need to take ownership of it and do follow-up research. This can also lead to a sense of accomplishment and pride.
5 – Set boundaries of expected behavior and stick to these boundaries, regardless how challenging it is.
6 – Find a local support groups like al-anon or nar-anon so you can learn from others who are also experiencing similar situations with a family member and addiction.
7 – If they agree to go to treatment, participate in the treatment experience. Attend visitations and family therapy sessions.
8 – Make sure they know you support them in their fight to be well and lead a life of recovery.

Related Blog:  Addiction and Family

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Do genetics play a role in addiction?

For years, there has been some debate as to how much genetics plays a role in addiction. Many believe that genetics is a key indicator in the likelihood of developing a dependency to drugs or alcohol, while others discredit the idea. They believe substance use is a choice that leads to dependency.

To a degree, both are correct. A family shared their story. The father was an alcoholic. It’s not known if there was a history of substance abuse in his family. The mother would drink, socially, with the father. She never became dependent on alcohol and when they divorced, she seldom drank. The family had three children. The oldest recognized early that his father was an alcoholic and made the choice to never try illicit drugs or alcohol in case he carried a genetic marker that would predispose him for an addiction.

The middle child began drinking as a teenager. While she did not appear to have a dependency, she had a tendency to binge drink on weekends. In her early 20’s, she was introduced to cocaine and claimed she was hooked from the first hit. She bounced in and out of jail and treatment centers for the better part of the next 10 years before finally accepting a life of recovery.

Finally, the youngest child settled in the middle. She had moderate experience with illicit drugs and alcohol. She enjoyed the drugs when they were a novelty and then “grew up” and dropped them from her lifestyle. She still enjoys a beer at the ballgame, a Champagne toast or a nice bottle of wine with dinner.

According to National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, Inc., while researchers have found ties to genetics and a risk for dependency on drugs and/or alcohol, there is not a specific gene that will designate if one person is more likely to become an addict and another is not.

Bottom line, if there is a history of addiction in your family, you may want to be extra vigilant when it comes to speaking to your kids about the danger of drugs and alcohol and monitoring their behaviors. Even what seems like regular teen behavior may not manifest into a problem until adulthood.

Related blog:  Recovery is a Process

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.