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How to Live with an Alcoholic
Tips to Make Your Life with an Alcoholic a Little Easier
Living with someone who is entrenched in addiction is a struggle not just for their partner but for all family members involved. You want them to stop drinking, but you can’t force them to give up their alcohol or substance abuse. However, you can make your own life easier. Implementing some of these coping strategies will help you learn how to live with an alcoholic without the need to sacrifice your own mental health.
Emerald Isle Health & Recovery is here to help you manage a loved one’s substance abuse and to help them get the help they need. Keep reading to learn our coping strategies, and remember we are always here when your loved one is ready to consider treatment!
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Take Care of Your Own Mental Health
Living with an alcoholic partner can take a serious toll on your overall psychological well-being. While you can encourage them to seek help for their alcohol abuse, you cannot force them into an AA group or any other type of addiction treatment. The best you can do is to make sure that you are as healthy as possible.
Take care of your own mental health by enrolling in therapy and attending support groups for family members like Al-Anon. These tools can help you to set healthy boundaries for the person in your life whom you are struggling with the most.
You will learn how to take better care of yourself so that you do not end up in the endless cycle with your loved one and their recovery and future relapses. It allows you to take the time and space that you need to reflect on how you might be contributing to their alcohol abuse and may open them up to the possibility of family therapy.
Never Tolerate Physical Violence
Some partners will experience intimate partner violence as a result of a spouse’s drinking. Even children are susceptible to becoming victims of domestic abuse and alcohol-related violence. According to one study, it was relatively rare with just 3 percent of women reporting that drinking caused their significant other to abuse them with a weapon or to abuse their children.
If you find that an alcoholic spouse is acting out violently against you or your children, never turn a blind eye to it. They should deal with the consequences of their actions and you should ensure that you and your family members are safe.
This might mean dialing 911 for assistance and filing a police report, this can be part of healthy boundaries if you are learning how to live with an alcoholic. At other times, it could mean that you need to leave the situation. Never tolerate domestic violence, no matter whether your loved one is dealing with alcohol addiction or some other struggle.
Allow Them to Suffer the Consequences
Many family members of those who have alcohol dependence try to alleviate their loved one’s concerns. For example, a loved one might drink heavily on a Monday night and be too hungover in the morning to attend work. While some spouses may take it under their own responsibility to call in sick on behalf of their partner, it is better to allow them to suffer the consequences of their own actions.
Do your best not to cover for a partner’s drinking when it comes to their job or even their friends. It is not up to you to sweep their alcohol abuse under the rug so that they can live their life unencumbered by the consequences.
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Practice Good Self-Care Physically and Emotionally
You can’t force someone to stop drinking, but you can prioritize taking care of yourself instead of getting caught in the cycle with them. Make sure that you carve out regular time in your busy schedule to practice self-care for yourself. This could be as simple as taking a luxurious bubble bath instead of trying to convince your loved one to pursue alcohol treatment.
Other alternatives that constitute good self-care include meditation and exercise. Mindfulness exercises can be great at relieving anxiety. One study found that mindfulness-based stress reduction practices reduce the feeling of worry.
You may even want to engage in more spiritual practices to help you feel more centered if you are struggling to stay sane while learning how to live with an alcoholic. Some studies are pointing to the fact that people who are more engaged in their spirituality including a sense of purpose in life are more likely to feel reduced anxiety. Make these a priority regardless of what your alcoholic partner or loved one has to say about it.
Seek Peer Support from Family and Friends
While you could join a peer support group like Al-Anon, many people living with an alcoholic partner find that they feel more supported when their close friends and family members know. It is tempting to shelter your alcoholic spouse or another family member from the shame that often accompanies substance abuse, but you are not doing them any favors by keeping their secrets.
Instead, you are compounding the shame and secrecy of this lifestyle by not allowing them to be held accountable. If no one knows that they are struggling, how will they ask important questions that could spur them on to get the help they need?
Having that accountability from more than just you could be the impetus they need to seek substance abuse treatment for good. You never know the influence that friends and family could have on a person’s life, so be sure to involve others who can be supportive even given an alcohol addiction.
Seek Education and Resources for Yourself and Your Loved One
One of the best things you can do to handle an alcohol problem is to make sure that you are educated on what causes it and what treatment options are available. If you understand how an alcohol use disorder is caused, you may be able to more supportive of your loved one in finding help for their drinking problem.
Just in case they come around to the idea of treatment for alcohol use disorders or any co-occurring mental illness, you want to ensure that you have resources ready. Know what rehab facilities are available where they can safely work off their withdrawal symptoms. Emerald Isle Health and Recovery can help you find professional treatment at our state-of-the-art facility.
This may not be as feasible if you are coping with alcoholic parents who might not turn to their child for help with resources, and don’t care if you ever learn how to live with an alcoholic. If not, make sure to educate the people that they trust and rely on so that they know when and where to refer your parents when the time comes.
Be Open with Your Struggles Around Their Alcoholism
Much like you don’t want to save them from the consequences of their actions, you also need to be clear on how their alcohol use disorder affects and impacts you. Share how it makes you feel when they drink and know they should be pursuing treatment. Hold them accountable to the promises that they made to cut back or try a sober lifestyle.
It can be challenging to speak your mind openly and freely, knowing that your alcoholic family member may not be receptive to hearing it. However, it helps to hold them accountable for their actions and ensures that you are not enabling them to continue drinking. Let them know how you feel when they break the promises they made to you.
Challenge them when they pick up the bottle but try to do so from a place of love rather than anger. This is where self-care can come in so that you feel centered and can separate yourself from their actions.
Prepare Your Arguments for More Constructive Conversation
If you need to address an alcoholic and confront them with the reality of their alcohol abuse, then you need to make sure you are prepared. Have specific examples in mind of times when they may have resorted to emotional violence or even domestic violence when they chose to abuse alcohol. Show them what their addiction is doing to their own life, as well as the lives of the people who are closest to them.
When you attempt to have a conversation like this, you will need to set the time and place. Choose a time when they are sober and clear-headed. You may not want to do this in public as it can be a very emotionally charged conversation.
Involve others who are impacted by their substance abuse as well. This might mean parents, partners, close friends, and even coworkers who are picking up the slack. If their alcoholism impacts someone directly or indirectly, try to include them in this type of conversation. Don’t let the group get too big though or you run the risk of overwhelming your loved one.
Make sure that you can have this conversation in a reasonable manner instead of yelling and shouting. You may need to practice this in therapy on your own so that you have clear boundaries and a framework for how you want the talk to go.
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Seek Help for an Alcoholic Family Member
The good news is that if you have an alcoholic loved one that you have to live with, there are plenty of resources available to you beyond our guide on how to live with an alcoholic. Emerald Isle Health & Recovery in Arizona provides a number of service types to accommodate whatever your loved one may need. From outpatient rehab to longer-term programs, we can help set them up on a path to sober living.
If they are hesitant to reach out for help because they do not want to share what is going on with them, rest assured that Emerald Isle is a very private location that will help them take the first steps toward recovery. Contact us today to learn more about our services and whether we would be a good fit for your family!
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