How To Live With An Alcoholic? Do’s and Don’ts

The main finding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on how to help someone you know who drinks too much is to approach the issue with empathy and care. Start by talking to the person about your concerns when they are sober, expressing your worry without labeling them as an “alcoholic.” Provide them with factual information and suggest activities that don’t involve drinking. Encourage them to seek professional help, attend counseling or support group meetings, and offer to assist with transportation. Importantly, remember to take care of yourself during this process, seeking support from friends, family, or counseling groups to manage the stress that can come with caring for someone with alcohol misuse or use disorder.

With A Spouse

Living with an alcoholic spouse can be challenging and emotionally taxing. ADASUK suggests seeking support from organisations like Al-Anon, which provides assistance to families affected by alcohol abuse. Self-care and involving friends and family for support are also commonly recommended. Additionally, encouraging the alcoholic spouse to seek help or counselling is also something that we would recommend. It is important to note that alcoholism can have physical and mental health consequences for both the individual and their loved ones. Dealing with an angry drunk spouse involves staying calm, ensuring safety, and seeking professional help when necessary.

With A Son Or Daughter

Dealing with an alcoholic child can be incredibly challenging and emotionally taxing for parents. ADAUK recommends choosing empathy over enabling, seeking treatment centres, and asking the right questions when trying to help a child with alcohol addiction. Communication, recognising the signs of addiction, and supporting them through recovery are common themes across these search results. It is crucial for parents to understand that alcoholism is a disease and to seek help and support for both their child and themselves in coping with the situation.

Stop Enabling Alcoholism

Try to refrain from providing financial support, allowing the individual to experience the consequences of their actions, engaging in conversations about their substance abuse when they are sober and receptive, and seeking assistance from a professional. We suggest setting boundaries, promoting personal responsibility, and avoiding behaviours that inadvertently support the addiction. It’s important to recognise that enabling can unintentionally worsen the situation and hinder the individual’s recovery progress. Signs you are enabling alcoholism include making excuses for their drinking, covering up their actions, or protecting them from facing consequences.

Take Care Of Yourself

Taking care of yourself when living with an alcoholic is crucial for several reasons.

  • Firstly, it preserves your physical and mental health, preventing the negative impacts of stress and anxiety that often accompany such situations.
  • Secondly, self-care empowers you to set boundaries and maintain a sense of control over your life, reducing codependency tendencies.
  • Lastly, it sets an example for the alcoholic, showing them the importance of self-respect and well-being, potentially motivating them to seek help for their addiction. Overall, self-care is essential for your own well-being and can indirectly contribute to the recovery of your loved one

What Not To Do

When living with an alcoholic” you should try to avoid certain enabling behaviours. These behaviours include refraining from making excuses for the alcoholic, not buying alcohol as gifts for them, not offering them a place to stay when they’ve spent all their money on alcohol, and not providing money or other means for the purchase of alcohol. ADASUK recommends trying to avoid actions that enable the alcoholic to continue their drinking habits and to encourage healthier choices and boundaries in the relationship.

When They Don’t Want Help

Helping an alcoholic who doesn’t want help is a challenging and sensitive situation. Here are some helpful ideas that ADASUK recommends.

Accept You Can’t Do the Work For Them: It is widely recognised that you cannot force someone to seek help for their addiction if they are not willing to do so themselves.

Enlist People They Trust: We suggest involving friends and family members who the alcoholic trusts and respects in order to provide support and encouragement.

Set Healthy Boundaries: Setting boundaries is crucial to protect yourself and prevent enabling behaviour.

Don’t Shame or Blame: Try to avoid shaming or blaming the alcoholic, as this can be counterproductive and create more resistance.

Acknowledge How Difficult This Is: Recognise the challenge of dealing with an alcoholic who doesn’t want help is a common theme, emphasising the need for patience and understanding.

Stage an Intervention: We suggest staging an intervention as a last resort, where loved ones come together to express their concerns and encourage treatment.

Take Care of Yourself: As previously mentioned, you should prioritise your own well-being and seek support for yourself through this difficult process.

How To Help Someone Quit

Try helplines like Drinkline, support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) at your local church, and advice from the NHS. Contact admin@adasuk.org for a list of various organisations that provide strategies for reducing or quitting alcohol and expert tips offer additional insights. Our free resources page also has a list of free support for helping someone quit an addiction.

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