Have You Got a Secret Drinker in the Family?

No one knows you like your family. Is that really true? Not according to many families across the country! Thousands have had a secret drinker amongst them for some time, and didn’t have a clue.
Camilla in Berkshire: My son, Ben, had been heavily drinking socially for well over a year before I finally put two and two together. I felt such a fool; and a bad mother, actually. You’d think that of all the people in Ben’s life, the one person who would know him perhaps even better than he knew himself would be me. Not so. It all came out when he wrote off the BMW 3 Series Coupé that my husband and I had given him for his eighteenth birthday. What a nightmare.

Alun-Wyn in Aberystwyth: My daughter, Sian, was like all her mates when she reached her late teens. I put her moodiness and disinterest in family things down to just all being part of her growing up. It wasn’t until she broke her leg on a skiing trip and had to take time off from studying that I found the wine bottles in her college locker.

Sophia in London: As a self-employed proof-reader, I work from home. My husband, who is an alcoholic, is unemployed at the moment. I love him dearly, but cohabitating with a heavy drinker can be a living hell, to be honest. He used to hide his drinking from me [when I worked full time in the City], but now I have grown wise to his ways, his little tricks.

Alasdair in Kirkcaldy: I am ashamed to say that I paid so little attention to my wife, I didn’t even notice her struggle with alcohol. Now things are different. But for a long time I was so disinterested in her and her everyday life that I failed to witness her spiralling alcohol consumption first-hand. I was either at work all day or playing golf with business associates at the weekends; so it would be unfair of me to accuse her of hiding anything.

Do you recognise yourself in any of the above examples? Do you suspect that a family member is a secret drinker? If you are perhaps unsure, telltale signs include:

Unpredictable irritability and sudden bursts of anger
Unusually long periods of moodiness
General disinterest in life
A particular lack of enthusiasm whenever a conversation turns to plans for the future
Less care taken over their dress and grooming
Problems at work, and strained interpersonal relationships overall

All this can be difficult to handle, to be around. But perhaps worst of all is being ‘second best’ to alcohol. It is a feeling that anyone involved with an alcoholic may recognise. The sense of rejection (and of irrelevance) can be extremely upsetting, as the binge drinker in their life prioritises alcohol over them.

If there is an alcoholic in your family and their addiction is tearing your family apart the way to reconfigure your relationship with them is to intervene, to seek help for them (often, an alcoholic’s loved ones will realise the need for help before the actual alcoholic themselves).

By intervening, we mean independently contacting Rehab Treatment UK simply to find out about options. Even the most general enquiry will be dealt with thoroughly, sensitively and 100 per cent confidentially by trained staff.

To find out more, simply call 0845 680 4902, or if e-mailing is easier, go here.


I could not stop drinking, having tried various methods. After making contact with Rehab Treatment UK I was put at ease immediately. All my options were carefully explained and 2 days later admitted to Rehab. Without the speedy response I would probably still be drinking today, Already, the home is a happier place. Thank you Jane for starting the process for a life of sobriety.
B. Middlesex

Thank you to Rehab Treatment UK and everyone at the Clinic that was involved in my Detox. It has been hard, but the fun everyone has made it, helped to make it easier.
S. Hull