lindsay_lohan_mugshot.jpgTwenty-three-year-old actress Lindsay Lohan of Mean Girls fame continues to make headlines as she deals with her problems with alcoholism. While promoting (or should we say partying?) for her movie Inferno at this year's Cannes Film Festival, she fell over twice, the Daily Mail reports, attributing her late-night sluggishness, not to alcohol, but to being “the most clumsy person in the world.”

More importantly, she missed her mandatory court hearing regarding her 2007 DUI conviction; Lohan claimed her passport had been stolen, preventing her from making a flight home. Still, instead of filing for a replacement the night before her flight, she was seen partying on a parade of yachts, says E-Online. Lohan got issued a bench warrant for arrest for her troubles but posted bail on the same day, reports this article on With the bail came new conditions, however: a complete prohibition from drinking alcohol, an alcohol-monitoring bracelet, and random weekly drug testing.

Lohan’s problem with alcoholism has her whole family involved. She has accused estranged dad Michael of sending someone to steal her passport in an effort to sabotage her. Meanwhile, mom Dina has stood by her daughter. She has previously joined Lohan at her mandatory alcohol education classes to show her support.  

Lohan’s parents are not the first to be caught in the crossfire of a family member’s alcoholism. As this article says, coping with an alcoholic in the family increases stress and puts a toll on family life. At its worst, alcoholism has broken families apart. Here, FN provides a few tips for coping with alcoholism in a loved one.

Look at alcoholism not as a weakness, but as a disease.

According to David Chandler, alcoholism is “a disease in which drinkers have lost the ability to control their drinking, leading to physical and mental harm and loss of ability to behave in a socially acceptable manner.”

In other words, alcoholics are sick: they can’t help themselves because they’ve already lost control. Their freedom of choice is severely curtailed and the only way they can make a new choice is with the guidance of others. So you'll need to stop blaming them and approaching them negatively. Be on the offensive, but do it in a careful, logical manner to avoid antagonizing the alcoholic.

Talk to them about their disease.

Many alcoholics live in denial, so unless the alcoholism is pointed out in a careful and convincing manner, they will continue to rationalize their drinking. Chandler says the best time to approach the alcoholic is when he or she is sober or when a particularly difficult problem arises, such as a family argument or a drunken driving ticket. Unfortunately, waiting for the latter to happen is tantamount to acting too late—drunk driving, for example, can prove fatal—so be brave and just do it. If you don’t take that first step, you might regret it later.

Acknowledge the disease.

The problem of denial spreads to friends and family, as well. A girl with an alcoholic father, for example, might find herself hating him for being an alcoholic but will keep up the pretense in public (and perhaps even at home) that there is nothing wrong to save the family some face. If everyone keeps ignoring the disease, though, by the time the family acknowledges it, the situation will only have gotten worse. The only way to start helping an alcoholic you care about is by helping yourself too, and that begins with admitting that someone you love needs help.

Support them.

When we say support, we don’t mean giving them money to buy alcohol! Don’t remind them of their predicament by drinking alcohol around them, and don’t give them an opportunity to lapse into drinking. This article article mentions how positive reinforcement can help alcoholics cope. Constantly remind them that you support their efforts to get better and that you will keep giving them the encouragement that they need. A little support goes a long way.

Enroll them in counseling sessions or support groups.

It’s not just the alcoholic who needs support; his or her family and friends do too. All the pent-up stress and anger will cause you to explode one day, and we don’t want that to happen. A good way to cope is to attend counseling sessions or join support groups to meet families who are going through the same thing. As Chandler puts it, these sessions will help you process your emotions. It might even give you better suggestions for helping your alcoholic family member.

Educate yourself.

This article
emphasizes the importance of being knowledgeable about alcoholism. Do some research, find out what resources are available to you, and keep learning so that you’ll be better equipped to help yourself and your alcoholic family member.    

(Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, via Wikimedia Commons)
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