Dealing with a Loved One with Alcoholism
The Trials of Having a Loved One with Alcoholism
Having a loved one who is dealing with alcoholism is a difficult challenge, whether it’s a member of your family, a close friend, a spouse, or a child. No matter who the alcoholic in your life is, the steps for dealing with them are usually the same.
Don’t Blame Yourself
The most vital thing is to not blame yourself. As much as no one can stop anyone else from being an alcoholic, no one else is truly responsible for the addiction of another person. These are choices your loved one has made and have to do with their internal issues, not you. Even if the alcoholic is your spouse or your child, do not let the addict push the blame onto you. Only they are responsible for their behavior
Don’t Cover Up For Them
It is important to support the alcoholic, but you don’t want to help them in their active alcoholism. If they ask for help, you should offer support and encouragement and even assist them in finding a treatment program, but you should stop covering up their active addict behavior for them. It is never okay to lie to others like their employer, other family members, friends or law enforcement about their alcoholism. If you cover up for an alcoholic, then you could be at least partially responsible for the outcome of the lies you tell.
Protecting yourself from a loved one with alcoholism can mean many things. Hopefully, you won’t need to physically protect yourself from them, but if you do you should take measures to ensure your safety if they become violent or dangerous. Do not be afraid to call the police or leave the premise without discussion.
However, protecting yourself can mean keeping yourself safe mentally, emotionally and financially too. Alcoholics can become verbally abusive, and you should remove yourself from the situation if this occurs. Serious alcoholics may even steal money from you to keep up their addiction or to keep it from other loved ones. Do not feel guilty about taking measures to protect yourself from an active addict and do not feel bad about pulling away if necessary. Distance can be a helpful way for the alcoholic to see that you are not a mark to be taken advantage of.
Having a loved one with alcoholism is incredibly stressful, and to keep yourself healthy and be there to offer help when they’re ready to get sober, you need to care for yourself. This can mean different things to different people, but it is important to find healthy outlets for this stress that do not involve falling prey to your vices or addictions. Exercise, therapy, taking time out for yourself and eating well are all ways to make sure that you’ll be there for whoever needs you.
Know Your Limits
Know that no matter what you do, you will not be able to make an alcoholic stop drinking. No amount of cajoling, convincing or arguing will make an alcoholic who is not ready to get help stop drinking. The best thing you can do is recognize your limitations and stick by them. It is not your job to cure them or set limits for them. You are not a trained substance abuse counselor; you’re just a person who loves an alcoholic.
This doesn’t mean that you have to stop loving them, but it does mean that you should do all you can to make their addiction as tough as possible. Many times this means that you should stop enabling them or “helping” them with their addiction. They are responsible for themselves. A therapist that specializes in these issues or a support group like Al-Anon can all help you see that none of this is your fault.