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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on September 15, 2023
6 min read

Living With an Alcoholic

Alcoholism is challenging, not only for those who suffer from alcohol addiction but also for their loved ones.

People suffering from alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder (AUD) often have severe cravings while not actively drinking. This makes it difficult to quit or even cut back.

If you’re living with an alcoholic, there are many ways to overcome this problem.

7 Tips for Living With an Alcoholic

Here are seven tips for living with an alcoholic:

1. Recognize the Signs

The first step to safely living with an alcoholic is to recognize the signs of alcoholism. 

An alcoholic’s tolerance level builds over time. As their tolerance levels build, they need to drink more to achieve the same desired effects.

Common signs of alcoholism include:

  • Severe alcohol cravings
  • 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

Accepting this reality is essential if you live with a loved one exhibiting the telltale signs mentioned above. Understand that you may need to make some changes.

2. Set Boundaries

Try not to enable behaviors that are harmful to yourself and others living with the person. Ensure that you and any other household family members are physically safe. Don't put up with emotional or physical abuse.

If the situation becomes unpleasant or dangerous, you may need to stop living with the person until they get proper treatment.

Don't 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

There's no need to face this alone⁠—getting help from others is crucial. There is no shame in asking for help. It can even help you and your loved one successfully move forward together.

Help can come from: 

Interventions mainly involve bringing family members and close friends together to help persuade them to quit drinking. A therapist or mental health professional present can also assist in staging an intervention

4. Find Support Groups for Yourself (Al-Anon/Alateen)

It's vital to take care of your mental health when living with an alcoholic. One way you can do that is by engaging in support groups.

A support group allows you to share experiences with people who understand what you’re going through. Members also often share coping strategies.

5. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help (addiction treatment)

Try to assist your loved one in finding and attending a treatment program. These can include:

A trusted doctor or healthcare professional can help determine the proper treatment for them.

6. Refrain from Becoming Angry

A person struggling with alcohol abuse may lash out, blaming their spouse and engaging in abusive behavior.

This can be an incredibly challenging time. Staying calm may seem next to impossible, but becoming angry can make matters even worse.

It's 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 suffering loved one. It will help keep things in perspective and allow you to focus on assisting them to get better rather than casting blame.

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


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What Not to Do When Living With an Alcoholic 

While it’s tempting to do everything possible to fix the problem, it can worsen the situation. You also have to know what not to do when living with an alcoholic.

Don't Enable

Make an effort to stop your loved one from engaging in harmful behavior.

Restrict their access to your money and remove them from joint bank accounts. Refrain from giving them money, whether it's for alcohol or not.

Don't Tolerate Unacceptable Behavior

Avoid denying or excusing problematic behaviors. If your loved one is aggressive, suicidal, abusive, or dangerous, this must be addressed and not ignored.

Don’t Blame Yourself or Take It Personally

Alcohol use disorder is a disease that involves constant vigilance against relapse. When it occurs, loved ones that have supported the journey to sobriety may feel betrayed or coerced.

It's natural to want to take things personally, but an alcoholic does not fully control their behavior. While it's essential to realize this is not their fault, it's also imperative to remember it's not yours either. Try to remain detached and do not take it personally.

Don't Suffer in Silence

You should never tolerate verbal or physical abuse. When dealing with an alcoholic, having a sound support system is best.

Talk to friends and family members about what's going on. If you're concerned about your emotional well-being, seek professional help.

Effects of Living With an Alcoholic

There are various adverse effects and risks of living with an alcoholic. They include:

  • Fearing for your safety and your loved one's health and happiness
  • Damaged relationship
  • Blaming yourself
  • Blaming your loved one
  • Trying to cover up the situation
  • Children being negatively affected (if you have any)
  • Domestic abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Declining mental health
  • Financial difficulties
  • Feeling ashamed while around others
  • Sleeping issues
  • Suicidal thoughts

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When to Step Away

It's up to you when it is time to step away from a bad situation. However, if you feel unsafe while living with an alcoholic, strongly consider leaving.

Domestic violence or physical abuse shouldn't be tolerated under any circumstances. If you need help or support with leaving, talk to someone you trust or seek help from authorities.

It may also be time to leave even if you don't feel in danger. If you've done all you can to help without success, it may be time to move on, permanently or temporarily.   

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. 


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Treatment Options for Alcoholism

If you identify any signs of alcoholism in your loved one, it’s vital to seek professional help.

Depending on the severity of the problem, treatment options may vary. Some people go through rehab alone, while others need to work with a team of professionals.

Here are some standard treatment options:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment involves checking in at a rehab center where you live for the duration of your treatment. 

This treatment includes a fixed schedule of group therapy sessions, individual counseling, and other activities. You'll have access to medical attention and counseling services 24 hours a day.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

PHP treatment is recommended for those who struggle with moderate to severe alcoholism. You'll be required to spend the day at a treatment facility and return home at night. 

This kind of treatment includes counseling sessions and attend regular meetings.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Different medications can be used to treat alcoholism. Doctors typically prescribe MAT after determining that the medication is appropriate for you. Commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram
  • Acamprosate

12 Steps Recovery Programs

Recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provide support and guidance while getting sober. These groups offer 12-step programs that teach members how to cope with life without alcohol. 

While they aren't necessarily treatments, these programs can help you stay sober and maintain sobriety.


Living with an alcoholic is never easy. However, there are many ways to make it easier. 

The tips above are just some ways to improve your quality of life when dealing with an alcoholic. If you notice any warning signs, don't hesitate to reach out for help.

Updated on September 15, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on September 15, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Sharma et al. "Living with an alcoholic partner: Problems faced and coping strategies used by wives of alcoholic clients." Industrial psychiatry journal, 2016.
  2. "Excessive Alcohol Use." National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 
  3. "Support & Treatment." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  
  4. Hussong et al.  "Parent alcoholism impacts the severity and timing of children's externalizing symptoms." Journal of abnormal child psychology, 2010. 
  5. Bennett et al. "Cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems among school-age children of alcoholic parents." The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2006. 
  6. Moser, RP., and Jacob, T. “Parent-Child Interactions and Child Outcomes as Related to Gender of Alcoholic Parent.” Journal of Substance Abuse, 2002.
  7. Sudhinaraset, M., Wigglesworth, C., Takeuchi, D.T. "Social and Cultural Contexts of Alcohol Use: Influences in a Social-Ecological Framework." Alcohol Res, 2016.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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