Dad are you an alcoholic?

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"Papa you are an alcoholic!": It is better to address addictive behavior of family members only after Christmas

Signs of alcoholism can no longer be hidden from relatives, especially at Christmas. A large sip is taken before the gifts are distributed. This is hardly bearable for family members. Nevertheless, an expert advises that the addictive behavior should only be addressed after the Christmas holidays and that damage limitation should instead be pursued. Otherwise, the festival could be plagued by a significant drop in mood.

Christmas is not the best time to resolve addiction issues
According to Raphael Gaßmann, Managing Director of the German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS), Christmas is not necessarily the ideal time to alert family members of their obvious alcohol problems. Anyone who has suspected for a long time that the father or mother may be an alcoholic should watch the addictive behavior on Christmas holidays with caution. Because the festive time with the family is a particularly stressful situation and an emotional challenge for many addiction patients. Addressing the problem in the presence of other relatives and acquaintances "is extremely unsuitable," the addiction expert warns. "The family is around it, that only leads to classic disputes". This inevitably leads to an argument and possibly to the cancellation of the Christmas party together.

First aid and damage limitation
On the other hand, it was more effective to first offer a kind of "first aid" on the festive season. So it should not be actively involved in giving a drunk even more schnapps. One should not "blame the person concerned with the index finger, but one should not continue to provide him with alcohol on his own," said Gassmann.

Sayings like "Oh come on, we'll have another drink", should not be spoken in the presence of the alcoholic. In order not to accelerate the addictive behavior of the person concerned, relatives themselves should not drink alcohol. On the one hand, this promotes the behavior of the addict; "You were blue yourself at Christmas", is often countered.

A face-to-face conversation a few days later
The next meeting could be used to share the experience with the person concerned. The best thing to do is to speak to those concerned alone “in private,” explains the expert. However, it was important not to surprise the addict and not to present himself as something better. The sentence: "You have a problem" usually only causes the other party to take a defensive position. However, expressing concern is much better. For example, the sentence could start with "I'm worried about you". That sounds less like blaming, morality or reproach.

"A first conversation can at most lay the foundation for the search for help," says Gritli Bertram, a graduate in social education and patient care. Getting a family member to quit alcohol without external help is almost hopeless. "Much is achieved, however, if the person concerned turns to a specialized advice center. Accompanying can be offered as support, ”advises the teacher. Accompanying the advice center is helpful because the fear of emerging can be overcome together. (sb)

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Image: Gerd Altmann /

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