It’s a difficult question. There are so many aspects to this topic; it would take a few blog posts to cover them all. You’ll need to be aware that alcoholism is a disease, and this section is not meant as advice for someone looking to “help” their loved one. It is not up to your partner whether they want or need help; it is up only to them. The purpose of this article is to help you know what to do if you are in an alcoholic relationship.
Things to Do If You’re in an Alcoholic Relationship
When you are with someone who has a disease, you cannot fix them. The only person who can fix themselves is the person who has the disease. Things that you might think are helping, such as money or “encouragement” to stop drinking, may actually do more harm than good. It is best to show your loved one love, compassion, and understanding. Show them that you want the best for them and want them to be the very best they can be. If they ask for help, listen to what they are asking for.
Minimize the Exposure That You Have to Their Drinking
This doesn’t mean cutting them off all together; it means to cut back on activities that you do together or make plans without checking with them first. Alcoholics will often use alcohol to numb their feelings, so even a simple outing can become an opportunity for them to drink. This can be especially true if they have been experiencing a lot of stress at work or home.
Avoid Pressure to Get Help
This is crucial because an alcoholic will likely use this as another excuse, another reason not to get treatment for their condition. Usually, an alcoholic will deny that there is even a problem or that they need help. Don’t take this personally; remember that their denial is part of the disease, and don’t engage in an argument about it.
Learn How to Set Boundaries
Addiction is about controlling your loved ones, using their addiction as an excuse for why they’ve been neglecting you or spending all of the family’s money. You should always let an alcoholic know that you are not happy with their drinking, but don’t expect them to change just because you are unhappy.
Be Responsible for Your Own Needs and Well-Being
It is easy for couples who are not in recovery to say that it is the responsibility of the one drinking to be responsible for what happens when they get wasted. That does not work in recovery; your partner or spouse cannot take care of you. You have to be responsible for yourself, and this includes making dates with friends or your family, making time for your own hobbies, and making time for medical appointments.
Be Aware of Your Own Limitations
This is a big one. Most people don’t have the patience or willingness to deal with an alcoholic. They will likely make it your fault that they are drinking and their refusal to get help is just their way of punishing you for telling them off or trying to stop them from drinking. Remember, you cannot control them, so don’t try!
Keep Things in Perspective and Take Care of Yourself First
When you are with an alcoholic, you might feel like you have lost all your rights. You might feel like the whole world is against you. You might feel like your loved one has become this horrible person who has no soul or conscience. But it’s okay to want to make things work out. It’s good to want to salvage the relationship; it’s great if you can do so, but don’t expect that from the start. Take care of yourself and your needs first.
Understand That It Can Take a Long Time to Recover
Recovery is about making changes on a long-term schedule. You need to know that the problem will not go away overnight and that it might not happen at all, even if you want it to. It is not your job to make your loved one get help.
Be Aware of the Signs of Relapse
The danger in relapse is that it can happen very quickly and very often. You must be prepared for this to happen, but don’t jump on them about it if they call you to tell them that they are drunk or high again. Remember, recovery is a process, and relapse is part of the process as well. In conclusion, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. The condition of alcoholism is a disease, and recovery is a long-term process. Don’t let your loved one use this as an excuse not to get help.
Don’t try to control them or tell them what they should do. Get good advice from a professional and be patient with yourself because recovery has to take time. Being in an alcoholic relationship will not make things better; it will just make things more complicated. If you need to talk to a professional, our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 844-639-8371.