Relatives of alcoholics

Get help as a relative of alcoholism

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How to help an alcoholic?

In Denmark, there are about 140,000 people who are outright addicted to alcohol. In addition, almost 1.5 million people have what is called an over-consumption or harmful consumption of alcohol, which can eventually develop into alcoholism.

As a relative of an alcoholic, you may feel powerless, just as many feel that they are (partly) to blame for the alcohol dependence of the patient. Whatever your feelings as a family member, it’s hard to be on the sidelines. Fortunately, there is help available – both as an alcoholic and as a relative of an alcoholic.

As a family member, you can hardly get the patient to stop drinking on his or her own. However, you can probably succeed in getting the alcoholic to seek help and get into treatment. The first step is for the person to acknowledge the problem, and this is where you, as a family member, can play an important role.

Contact us by phone +45 48 40 40 60, or send us an email at if you or someone you know drinks too much.

Do you know someone who has an alcohol addiction?

It can be difficult to judge when something is “too much”. As an alcoholic, you will typically talk down your alcohol problems if your relatives, for example, mention that you drink a lot, and as a relative, you can therefore quickly come to doubt your own judgement.

If you know someone who drinks too much, you’re likely to be met with cover stories and lies if you bring up the problem. The alcoholic will deny the alcohol problem, saying for example that he or she is “just enjoying a glass of wine or two”. In the long run, they may distance themselves from you because it is simply more manageable than having to deal with the problem and consider alcohol treatment.

If someone in your immediate family or close circle of friends is an alcoholic, you need to tread carefully to make them realise that professional help is needed. It’s impossible to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped, so as a carer you have to make the alcoholic realise there’s a problem.

Confronting an alcoholic – especially someone in your immediate family or a good friend – can be very cross-cutting and anxiety-provoking, but as a carer you need to trust your gut and stick to your guns that you see a problem, even if the alcoholic denies it. Pointing out your concerns and what you are experiencing in a calm way is most likely to make the alcoholic realise that they need treatment.

Is there alcohol abuse in the family?

Alcoholism is a serious disease on a par with drug addiction. Being an alcoholic means being dependent on alcohol, but it is far from being unable to lead a “normal” life with a job, family and friends.

That’s why it can be difficult to “spot” an alcoholic, so to speak.

How to help an alcoholic

Facts about alcohol treatment at Alfa


Carries out the treatment

  • Women 35% 35%
  • Men 65% 65%

In treatment since 2003

How to detect alcohol abuse?

As an addict, it can be hard to see your own abuse. Therefore, it is often family, friends or colleagues who discover alcoholism.

Fortunately, as a colleague, partner or child of an alcoholic, you can get help to help the addict.

Although it can be difficult to talk about the alcohol problem, for example as a boyfriend or girlfriend, neither you as a relative nor the addict are better off with alcoholism being silenced, and therefore you should talk about the problem if you want to help the addict.

There are many different symptoms of alcoholism, and as an alcoholic you don’t necessarily have to have them all. Similarly, not everyone who can identify with one of the symptoms is an alcoholic.


Symptoms of alcoholism

Below you can see some of the most common signs of alcoholism:

  • People drink alcohol in secret and try to hide bottles, for example.
  • People often drink more alcohol than they intended – both alone and with others.
  • You get annoyed and go on the defensive when alcohol is mentioned.
  • You drink at fixed times of the day.
  • They promise (repeatedly) to reduce alcohol consumption, but can’t keep the promise.
  • You black out when you’re drunk and lose control of your alcohol intake.
  • You use alcohol as a sedative to calm your emotions.
  • You change your personality when you drink alcohol.
  • You drink for effect, which is why you often drink the first few sips quickly.

If you see one or more of these signs in yourself or someone close to you, it may be a sign of alcoholism.

Parents have an alcohol addiction

“Help, my father is an alcoholic.” Unfortunately, this is the reality for many children in Denmark. As a child of the alcoholic, it can be hard not to blame yourself, just as it can be hard to understand that your mother or father drinks every day – perhaps despite the fact that the alcoholic himself can see how alcohol ruins the lives of both the addict and the immediate family.

Many relationships between children and alcoholic parents are characterised by neglect and mistrust, and in severe cases the alcoholic is unable to take proper care of his children. He or she needs help to get out of alcohol abuse and regain the children’s trust if the parental relationship is to get back on track.

In a relationship with an alcoholic

As a loved one, you’ll probably be one of the first to notice if you’re in a relationship with an alcoholic. Unfortunately, if you bring up alcohol abuse, the person will typically talk down the problem, just as the alcoholic may become defensive, angry and frustrated when alcohol is brought up.

If you are in a relationship with an alcoholic, the fear of being pushed away may discourage you from talking about the problem. However, it is important to remember that neither you nor your partner will benefit from the problem being neglected. Therefore, try to talk to your partner about the problem in a calm way, explaining your concerns without making the alcoholic feel attacked.

My colleague drinks too much

Do you have a colleague who drinks too much? If so, it might be a good idea to talk to your manager or a union representative about the problem. Alcoholism is highly taboo, and you might often think that it’s not your job to talk about a colleague’s alcohol abuse – especially if it’s not someone you’re close to.

However, remember that an alcoholic usually needs help to realise that there is a problem, and that it can actually sometimes hit harder if, for example, your colleague can see a problem than if your family members can. If a more or less peripheral colleague can see that too much is being drunk, there is probably something going on.

3 tips for relatives of an alcoholic

  1. Remember, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. The person must request treatment.
  2. Never blame yourself for someone else’s alcohol abuse. Not even if the alcoholic does.
  3. Take care of yourself so you can continue to live a good life even if you know someone who drinks too much alcohol.

Help for relatives of alcoholics

Alcoholism affects not only the alcoholic himself, but also the relatives. Living with an alcoholic or otherwise being part of an alcoholic’s inner circle can be enormously draining, and it can have a huge impact on the lives of those who care about them. If you have alcohol abuse in the family, do not hesitate to seek help.

At Alfa-Fredensborg we offer not only treatment for alcoholism, but also help for relatives. We provide free treatment for the next of kin, and the closest family member of an alcoholic in treatment has the opportunity to attend family therapy with them.

If you as a family member need help on how to make an intervention and get the alcoholic into treatment, we can also advise on this.

Get support to help an alcoholic in your family or circle

Do you know someone who drinks too much? Do you need support or advice? So call or write to us. We offer free help to family members who are unsure how to get their alcoholic into treatment, for example.

Help for the alcoholic himself only works when the alcoholic wants to be treated. Therefore, as a family member, you need to make the addict realise that there is a problem, so that he or she wants to get his or her life back by going to treatment.

Read also: How to get alcohol treatment if you live in Copenhagen

Free alcohol treatment

At Alfa-Fredensborg we offer free help to alcoholics in Copenhagen.

So if you want a better life that isn’t ruled by alcohol, there’s help out there – all you need to do is take the plunge.

The free alcohol treatment can take place in your own home, if that suits you best. If needed, there is also the possibility of day or overnight treatment.

Addiction treatment in Nordsjaelland
How to help an alcoholic

Do you know someone who may need treatment?

Do you need help to cope with cannabis, alcohol, drug or medicine abuse? Or if you need help getting help for a relative, contact us anonymously and we’ll help you through the process.