If you are the loved one of an alcoholic, you know these are not easy shoes to wear. Over 14 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or alcoholism. That is one is 13 adults who have issues related to alcohol.
Not only are these astounding numbers of people who are alcoholics. it also means huge numbers of people who love and care for them are facing the challenges of their alcoholism.
If you are a loved one of an alcoholic, you need to know some important things you should do. Take a look at these ideas in dealing with the struggles you faced because your loved one is an alcoholic.
Address and Discuss the Problem
The first step is addressing the problem. Find a time to talk with your loved one about their alcohol use. This should not be a time when they have already been drinking. Make every attempt to avoid being confrontational, but instead, try to raise the concern over their alcohol use.
Ask them to address their problem. See if they are willing to recognize they have an issue. They have to be willing to do something or get the help you can’t do that for them
At the same time, don’t ignore the problem in front of you. If you have been dealing with someone’s alcohol abuse you know they might resist the discussion to get help. Keep trying by showing your love and concern, reiterating your desire for them to get help.
Even they don’t want to get help. Get it for yourself through treatment or support.
Don’t Enable the Alcoholics Bad Habits
Resist acting as an enabler to your loved one’s bad habits or addiction. It is understandable to feel embarrassed by their actions.
Do not lie for them or cover up their actions as this only supports them continuing. If you want them to see the consequences of their actions, you cannot be the one covering those up.
Of course, do not buy alcohol for them. Don’t let them convince you it’s okay for them to have a drink or to celebrate with alcohol.
You cannot fix their behavior. So it’s important to continue to ask them to seek help.
You may not be able to stop the alcoholic in your life from drinking. You can make clear what you will tolerate by establishing boundaries and sticking to them no matter how hard it becomes.
These boundaries can be as simple as refusing to tell lies for them when they are abusing alcohol. It might mean you need to take steps to protect your finances so the addicted person doesn’t affect your financial future.
Of course, you must protect yourself if the alcoholic if abusive. You need to take action to protect yourself if you are at risk of any type of abuse.
Educate Yourself About Addiction
This is so important in the process of recovery for everyone involved. You need to learn about the real truths of addiction. Do research. Seek out trustworthy sources to teach about the impacts of alcohol on the addicted and their loved ones.
Education is power. The more you understand about the realities of addiction to alcohol the better you can handle the ups and downs of recovery. It also helps you to overcome many of the stigmas that can be attached to alcoholism.
If you have a strong understanding of addiction, you can also better work to advocate on behalf of your loved one.
Living with someone who has an addiction can create real and long term stressors in your life. It can create dysfunction in the family dynamic.
While every experience is different, finding others who have walked in your shoes can be huge in helping you face the struggles of addiction.
It can lift a weight to talk with someone who understands the weight of addiction. Having an understanding and nonjudgemental ears to listen is so helpful.
Many professional alcohol programs also offer support groups for families to talk to each other as part of their overall program services.
Seek Therapy for Yourself and Your Family
In addition to finding others who share your experiences, seek out the help of a professional therapist. The dynamics of dealing with their addiction can be overwhelming. In addition to worrying about them, you might worry about children.
A therapist for yourself or a family therapist can help everyone navigate the muddy waters of living with an alcoholic. They can see the situation objectively and offer you advice to cope with the real emotions and struggles you face.
Therapists can help you address stress, guilt, anger, distrust, and frustration you feel. They can help you with strategies to address the problems you are facing while living with someone struggling with addiction.
Manage Your Expectations
If you have been able to get your loved one to seek help, a big weight is probably lifted from your shoulders. You might even feel like now everything will be okay. Remember recovery is a process.
It is important that you manage your own expectations about how the recovery will go. It is not a situation where a switch is flipped and suddenly everything is better. Treatment for addiction takes real work and can be riddled with ups and downs.
Be realistic and understand the process. It is not fair to the person in recovery to put unrealistic expectations on them. It also isn’t fair to you. Mistakes or bumps on the recovery road may happen.
If you try to prepare yourself for the possibility it will be easier to understand. Focus on what you can to support not only your loved one but yourself too.
Take Care of Yourself
Living with an alcoholic can be overwhelming and fraught with stressful situations. You might want to focus so much on them that you forget you need self-care too. It’s the truth when people say you cannot take care of someone else if you aren’t healthy too.
Make sure you are eating healthy, getting exercise and getting enough sleep. While it is easy to solely focus on this problem, do things for yourself too.
Find out the things that bring you joy, whether it’s watching a movie, going out with friends, painting, and make time for it. You have to give yourself permission to be healthy even if someone you love might not be there yet.
Support for Family Members of Alcoholics
Living with someone who struggles with alcohol can have a real impact on you and your family. It can overwhelming and scary. It can also be frustrating. You might even find at times you are angry and you don’t know how to manage it.
The loved ones of alcoholics need help too. We want to help you help your loved one.
Learn more about addiction on our blog or contact us today for help in addressing the problem your faces with alcohol.