Holiday joy becomes an empty phrase when you have an inebriated loved one searching for car keys after the family meal. So, what is a family member to do when drinking has become a serious problem in a loved one’s life during the happiest time of the year? 

Here are 5 tips to help you help your loved one and keep YOUR sanity throughout the holiday season and throughout the year.


How to prevent a loved one from drunk driving

Tip #1: Set boundaries around driving 

Drinking and driving are a deadly combination. So it is important to create boundaries around driving with your family members as in “The car is only available to family members who are going to meetings and staying sober.” This one is easier to stick to when the car belongs solely to you or when the driver is one of your children rather than a spouse.

Tip #2: Seize the opportunity to control the situation by taking the keys

Never get in the car with a person who is driving under the influence or let a child do so.  If you have the opportunity to control the situation by taking the keys, do it. If you have a loved one does get into the car inebriated and you cannot stop them from driving away, call the police to stop them so no one is harmed. This isn’t a time to worry about whether they will be angry with you when they sober up. There may not be a tomorrow for them or for the person or people they hit if you don’t take action now!

Tip #3: Use the car as leverage.

Leverage is a negotiating tool. They want the car. You only want them to have it to drive sober. So, in order to have access to the car, they must (fill in the blanks – attend meetings, regularly, take a breathalyzer before getting into the car, go to treatment, follow the discharge plan, etc.) Leverage works best when you have a team of professionals to support you.

Tip #4: Work with a team of professionals

Your BALM Coach, your loved one’s treatment clinician and coach, these professionals know your family and can help you and your loved one work together to come to plans that can really work.

Tip #5: Encourage your loved one to undergo treatment

Of course, the missing ingredient is your loved one’s willingness to participate. Treatment can greatly help a loved one come to the conclusion that it is time to do things differently. You can be the one to help your loved one decide it is time to go to treatment.

In the BALM, you will learn how to gather the facts and script loving conversations to help them move forward. You will learn Motivational Interviewing so you can ask questions that help them look at alternatives for a better future for themselves, and you will learn how to have loving BALM conversations that will go under their denial, from your heart to theirs, in order to help them wake up and choose recovery for themselves.

For more information on the BALM Family Recovery Program go to

or give us a call at 1-888-998-BALM (2256).