Last Updated on October 13, 2021
It’s extremely difficult to watch someone you love struggle with addiction or alcoholism. If you’re worried that your sister is an alcoholic, you’re probably wondering how to help her stop drinking.
In this post, we’ll share plenty of tips about what to do if your sister drinks too much, including how to start the conversation and offer your support.
How Can I Help My Sister Stop Drinking?
1. Learn More About Alcohol Use Disorder
First, it’s important to learn more about alcohol use disorder (AUD)1. AUD is a chronic disease affecting more than 14 million Americans. Dependence on alcohol changes the brain. These brain changes make it difficult and even physically painful to stop drinking.
Before you approach your sister about her drinking, understand that she isn’t trying to hurt you or the rest of your family. She’s struggling with a disease and likely feels fear, shame, and guilt about her relationship with alcohol. Your sister is more likely to respond positively if you address the situation with empathy and compassion.
Additionally, you need to know that your sister’s AUD is beyond your control. It’s not your fault or your responsibility. You can voice your concerns and offer support, but the decision to start and stick with recovery is your sister’s alone. Do what you can, then focus on taking care of yourself and managing your own emotions about your sister’s drinking.
2. Get Informed About Treatment Options
Before you talk to your sister, look into available treatment options. If your sister agrees to get help, you’ll be prepared with some useful suggestions.
Three common types of treatment include:
- Inpatient rehab
- Outpatient rehab
Since every person with AUD is different, the best treatment option depends on your sister’s needs and preferences.
Rehab centers usually take an abstinence-only approach to treatment. People are expected to stop drinking completely. Moderation through medication-assisted treatment is another possible approach. Some people following this method are able to gradually relearn to control their drinking habits, and cut back without quitting entirely.
Another consideration is the amount of money and time your sister is willing to spend on recovery. If she insists that rehab is too expensive or will disrupt her life, you might suggest telemedicine. It’s a more modern solution that gives people the recovery tools they need through a smartphone app. In most cases, telemedicine is more affordable, and your sister can use the app at her convenience.
With the many treatment options available today, you’re sure to find something that’s a good fit for your sister.
Download Our Free Guide
Download our guide on How to Help Someone Quit Drinking. Learn more about alcohol use disorder, communicating with a loved one, and the resources available to help.
3. Talk to Your Sister About Her Drinking
If you’re worried that your sister is drinking too much, the next step is to share your concerns. Here are a few tips to help the conversation go smoothly:
- Think about what you want to say in advance. Jot down a few notes if it helps you feel more prepared.
- Talk to your sister while she’s sober, and make sure you feel calm and composed.
- Use “I” statements about how you’re feeling instead of “You” statements, which can feel like an attack2. For example, say, “I feel worried about how much you’ve been drinking lately,” instead of, “You drink too much.”
- Keep it simple and judgment-free by sticking to the facts. Express your concerns and explain how your sister’s drinking is impacting you. If you avoid blaming or attacking, your sister is more likely to hear you with an open mind.
If your sister is resistant to getting help, take comfort in the fact that you tried. You planted a seed that may still take root eventually. And if your sister does agree to seek help, talk to her about possible treatment options. Offer your ongoing support by continuing to learn about AUD, being patient and positive, and suggesting alcohol-free activities you can enjoy together.
4. Take Good Care of Yourself
It’s normal and admirable to worry about your sister, but don’t sacrifice your own well-being. If you’re too preoccupied with how to help your sister stop drinking, you may start to feel drained and overly stressed or anxious.
Take care of yourself by doing the following:
- Prioritize your physical health. Get restful sleep, eat nutritious meals, exercise, and spend time outdoors.
- Make time for activities you enjoy, or hobbies that help you feel calm and relaxed.
- Lean on your support system, including trusted friends and family.
- Join online communities or in-person support groups for loved ones of alcoholics.
- Remember that while you can’t control your sister’s drinking, you can manage how you respond.
Your well-being is important! Plus, you won’t be able to fully support your sister if you aren’t at your best.
How Ria Health Can Help
You don’t have to figure out how to help your sister stop drinking on your own. If your sister is ready to make a change, Ria Health offers a modern, evidence-based solution through a smartphone app.
Your sister can decide whether she wants to stop or cut back, and we provide tools like recovery coaching, anti-craving medication, and support groups to help her reach her goals. We also offer support for loved ones like you through the app.