All in the Family: Resources and Referrals for Alcoholism

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PurposeTo emphasize the family as the unit of treatment when one member has alcoholism, discuss the impact of alcoholism on families, and identify resources and referrals available for primary care nurse practitioners (NPs) to assist the patient and family in improving recovery outcomes and family function.Data SourcesExtensive review of current research, literature, and Internet-based resources, supplemented and illustrated with a case study.ConclusionsAlcohol dependency flourishes within the social context of the family system and is one of the leading causes of family dysfunction. Understanding the impact that alcoholism has on the family system and being familiar with resources and referrals are critical facets of the overall management of treatment for the patient and family.Implications for PracticePatients often seek health care in a primary care clinic for treatment of medical problems related to alcohol use or abuse, and the primary care NP is frequently the initial point of contact. It is imperative that the family be recognized as the unit of treatment and be included in the treatment plan. As the first line of defense, primary care NPs play a critical role in making appropriate referrals for management of family alcoholism. Helping families make changes leads to improved functioning and recovery outcomes for patients with alcoholism as well as to improved family function.

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