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When alcohol is a problem in a family

empty beer bottles

If alcohol misuse is affecting your family, you are not alone.

Many thousands of children and adults in Ireland live with the effects of someone else’s drinking. 

When someone has an alcohol problem, family life can start to revolve around the person drinking.

Dealing with the problem can feel overwhelming and can have a negative effect on:

How the family works

From strained relationships and financial worries to a lack of structure and routine.

Read more: Effects on family life

How people in the family feel

Famlly members may be dealing with many difficult feelings like shame, worry, stress and sadness.

Read more: How you or family members might feel

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What can you do?

  • Recognise and understand the effect alcohol may be having on your family
  • Find ways to cope, to reduce the harm to you and your family.


  • You didn’t cause it

  • You can’t control it

  • You can't cure it

 This doesn’t mean you are powerless

  • There are things that can help you to manage better
  • Things can change and get better
  • You and your family can come through these problems

Did you ever stop to think about the effect your loved one’s drinking is having on you?

It may be something big, like violence or financial problems.

There may also be less obvious effects, like missing sleep or feeling worn out, afraid, anxious or resentful.

Try to make time to care for yourself.  See some ways to cope.

Read more:

How to help children

Making small changes

Building resilience

Support services for families

Helpful resources

Family Support Handbook: Helpful information for families affected by someone's alcohol or drug use, including understanding dependence, ways to cope and practical advice.

Parenting positively. Helping teenagers to cope with a parent’s problem drug or alcohol use: Guide for parents of teenagers who are affected by a parent's drug or alcohol abuse, from Tusla / Barnardos

Taking the Lid Off: Resource for families living with addiction and problematic substance use, including understanding of addiction and its effects on others and advice on what helps, based on the evidence.

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Where to get help

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