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Signs Your Loved One is an Alcoholic

Alcoholism is not only hard on those who are suffering from alcohol addiction, but it also negatively affects their family and close friends.

People suffering from alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) often have severe cravings while not actively drinking and difficulty quitting or even cutting back. As their tolerance levels build, they will need to drink continually more to achieve desired intoxication levels.

In addition to the issues listed above, alcoholism may include:

  • Drinking alone
  • Repeated blackouts
  • Agitation or shaking if alcohol cannot be obtained
  • Hiding alcoholic beverages in multiple places
  • Strained relationships 
  • Employment problems
  • Legal troubles
  • Losing interest in other activities besides drinking

7 Tips for Living With an Alcoholic

1. Recognize the signs of alcoholism

The first step of safely living with an alcoholic is to recognize the signs of alcoholism. If you live with a loved one exhibiting the telltale signs mentioned above, it is important to accept this reality and avoid denying the situation. Understand that you may need to make some changes.

2. Set new boundaries

Try not to enable behaviors that are harmful to yourself and the loved one suffering from alcoholism. Ensure that you and any other household family members are physically safe and do not put up with emotional or physical abuse. If the situation becomes vulgar or dangerous, you may need to cease living with your loved one until they can receive proper treatment. 

Do not allow your loved one to blame you for this or any other changes that are not your fault or in your control. 

3. Get help from others

Receiving help from others is often crucial. Not only is there no shame in asking for help, but it might also allow for you and your loved one to successfully move forward together. Help can be in the form of emotional support, reinforcements with boundaries, or by setting up an intervention. Relying on community help in a time of need is hugely beneficial.

4. Find support groups for yourself (Al-Anon/Alateen)

It is vital to take care of your mental health when living with someone who is an alcoholic. Finding and utilizing support groups is one way to ensure you are dealing with the situation as best as possible. This can also be applied to other members of the household, such as children and other relatives.

5. Do not blame yourself or take it personally

Alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that often involves repeated relapses before becoming sober and constant vigilance to remain that way. When relapse occurs, loved ones that have supported the journey to sobriety may feel betrayed or coerced. 

It is natural to want to take things personally, but an alcoholic is not in full control of their behavior.

While it is important to realize this is not their fault, it is also imperative that you remember it is not your fault. It may be difficult to remain detached and not take it personally, but it can be beneficial to try. 

6. Try to refrain from becoming angry

Confronting the realities of alcohol abuse may lead those affected to lash out, blaming their spouse and engaging in some form of abusive behavior. This may be an incredibly challenging time, and staying calm may seem next to impossible, but becoming angry can make matters even worse. It is crucial to stay focused on healing instead of engaging in combative behavior. 

7. Remember that alcoholism is a serious disease

Addiction often brings negativity and uncertainty to any situation. This is especially true for the home environment. Remembering that alcoholism is a serious disease may help you deal with a  loved one that is suffering. It will help keep things in perspective and allow you to focus on finding them treatment to become sober, rather than casting blame or harboring resentment. 

Alcoholism is a form of substance use disorder that often requires addiction treatment to find the path to recovery.  

Find Help For Your Addiction

You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.

The Effects of Living With an Alcoholic Spouse or Partner

Spouses of people struggling with alcoholism may fear their safety, shared future, and the loved one’s health and happiness. It is natural to want to place blame on yourself or your spouse. In this situation, many people also attempt to control the situation, cure the affected person, or cover everything up.

Children of alcoholics are also negatively affected as an alcoholic parent can severely or irreparably damage young lives. 

How to Help Your Alcoholic Partner 

There are several actionable ways to help an alcoholic partner. Some of the most universally successful actions are listed below:

Do not enable

Make an effort to stop your loved one from engaging in harmful behavior. Restrict their access to your money and remove them from any joint bank accounts. Refrain from giving them money, regardless if it is for alcohol consumption or not. 

Do not accept unacceptable behavior 

Refrain from denying or excusing problematic behaviors. If your loved one is being aggressive, suicidal, abusive, or dangerous, these need to be addressed and not ignored. 

Encourage them to seek professional help (addiction treatment)

Try to assist your loved one in finding and attending a treatment program. These can include inpatient facilities and 12-step programs, as well as family therapy or group therapy. A trusted doctor or healthcare professional can help determine which treatment is right for them. 

Set up an intervention 

There are several types of intervention, but most involve bringing family members and close friends together to help persuade them to quit drinking. It is essential to have a therapist or mental health professional present to assist. Interventions can be great for helping loved ones if they are adequately planned in a focused manner.

When to Step Away 

It is up to you when it is time to step away from a bad situation. However, if you feel unsafe at any time while living with an alcoholic, leaving should be strongly considered. Domestic violence or physical abuse should not be tolerated under any circumstances. If you need help or support with leaving, talk with someone you trust or seek help from authorities.

It may also be time to leave if you do not feel in danger. If you’ve had an unsuccessful intervention or repeated attempts to convince your loved one to quit, it may be time to step away. This could be permanently or temporarily.  

Living with an alcoholic usually causes dysfunction, and there will likely be a point where you have done everything possible without changing the situation. If and when that time comes, having support available is critical to ensuring you can do what is best for you and the whole family. 

Questions About Treatment?

If you have any questions about alcoholism or alcohol use treatment, reach out to an addiction specialist or contact AlcoholRehabHelp. We can provide answers, guidance, and advice on the next steps for getting your loved one the treatment they need to stop drinking and begin recovery. 

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Resources

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Sharma, N., Sharma, S., Ghai, S., Basu, D., Kumari, D., Singh, D., & Kaur, G. (2016). Living with an alcoholic partner: Problems faced and coping strategies used by wives of alcoholic clients. Industrial psychiatry journal, 25(1), 65–71. https://doi.org/10.4103/0972-6748.196053

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Excessive Alcohol Use. NCCDPHP. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/alcohol.htm

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Support & Treatment. NIAAA. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/support-treatment

“Coping With an Alcoholic Parent.” Coping With an Alcoholic Parent - Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/Patients-Families/Health-Library/HealthDocNew/Coping-With-an-Alcoholic-Parent

Hussong, A. M., Huang, W., Curran, P. J., Chassin, L., & Zucker, R. A. (2010). Parent alcoholism impacts the severity and timing of children's externalizing symptoms. Journal of abnormal child psychology, 38(3), 367–380. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9374-5

Bennett, L. A., Wolin, S. J., & Reiss, D. (1988). Cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems among school-age children of alcoholic parents. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 145(2), 185–190. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.145.2.185 https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1988-20372-001

Easley, Margaret J., and Norman Epstein. “Coping with Stress in a Family with an Alcoholic Parent.” Family Relations, vol. 40, no. 2, 1991, pp. 218–224. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/585485.

Moser, Richard P., and Theodore Jacob. “Parent-Child Interactions and Child Outcomes as Related to Gender of Alcoholic Parent.” Journal of Substance Abuse, JAI, 15 May 2002, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S089932899790016X.

Callan, V J, and D Jackson. “Children of Alcoholic Fathers and Recovered Alcoholic Fathers: Personal and Family Functioning.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 1986, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3713183.

Lyon, D., & Greenberg, J. (1991). Evidence of codependency in women with an alcoholic parent: Helping out Mr. Wrong. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61(3), 435–439. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.61.3.435 https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1992-05804-001

Hughes, J. M. (1977). Adolescent children of alcoholic parents and the relationship of Alateen to these children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45(5), 946–947. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.45.5.946. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1978-21634-001
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