When someone close to you has an addiction, like being an alcoholic, it’s hard to keep up a healthy relationship with that person. At times, you will feel the need to step back and re-evaluate your relationship with that person. But you do know that leaving an addict on his own is only going to make his or her addiction worse.
If you look at the numbers, 3 million deaths are linked to alcohol intoxication, each year. These include not only deaths caused by alcohol intoxication, but also as a result of impaired capacities, due to the alcohol consumption. Fighting with an addiction is a tough and long process, which drains everyone involved, not just the alcoholic.
Though the overall picture is bleak, you can still do a lot to make a difference to your loved one, helping him or her get out of the black hole of addiction. Unless you understand a number of facts about addicted people, you can easily become another problem for them. Here are some things you need to know when you are loving an alcoholic.
1. You are not guilty
Many kids of alcoholics grow up thinking their parents’ addiction is their fault. Sisters, brothers or parents of addicts should also deal with their sense of guilt as the addiction is never their fault. Each person has his or her choices to make in life and if your loving spouse, brother or child chose to drink, it’s their own choice.
2. You are never alone
When you are dealing with someone’s addiction, there are many times when you feel alone. Fighting alcohol addiction is going to make you feel like the only person in the world who has an alcoholic loved one. Don’t let this feeling overwhelm you and prevent you from reaching out! If you really want to help an alcoholic, reach out to the others who are facing a similar situation. Statistically, there are over 16 million alcoholics in US only, each one with their own bunch of family and friends, so you are not alone. Not even close!
3. You won’t be able to forgive your loved one
Addiction is hard to cope with and it often makes the addicted steal or lie, which is definitely going to put a toll on your relationship. When your son or parent is going to hide things from you, then you will be angry on him. Forgiveness is not going to come easy, but this is a part of the process of loving an alcoholic or any other addicted person. Even when your loved one is going to be sober, you might have to struggle to forgive all the lies. Disappointment is going to be part of your relationship for a lot of time, but you need to be honest and keep an open mind. Be careful of what you say to your addicted loved one, during their recovery, as they are prone to falling into the alcohol trap again.
Most people try to hide their real feelings towards their alcoholic special someone, but this is the worst thing you can do. The best way to deal with anger in your case is confronting it, with your alcoholic or in the presence of a therapist.
4. You need to detach from him
When you love an alcoholic you need to be able to detach yourself from the situation and analyze how much can you give without being drained by the highly demanding alcoholic in your life. Instead of running around, trying to solve all the problems created by the addiction, take a step back and continue to support your loved one, without constantly taking over his or her life. It will be difficult to stop solving all the messes they create, but it’s necessary, for your own sake and for the sake of the alcoholic in your life. If he is not able to stop destroying himself, you can’t do much and you are definitely not helping if you continue to solve all his problems.
Establish boundaries and keep them up, even when the alcoholic is not sober – it will be challenging, but effective for everyone in your family. Alcoholics don’t have limits, so establishing boundaries and clearly stating what you are willing to accept and what you can’t accept, can help your loved one overcome his addiction. If you need help establishing boundaries, turn to a therapist, who can help you.
5. Learn to deal with the stigma
Alcohol addiction comes with a strong stigma and if your parents or other close family members are addicted, you will also carry the stigma. This is why you have to learn how to deal with it. People who never had to deal with alcoholics can’t understand what you and your loved ones have to put up with. They are not willing to understand, being guided by myths, so you have to learn how to ignore them. Turn to support groups, where you can find other people in your situation, who can provide emotional support you need. Get out there and get advice from people who are familiar with alcohol addiction and can help you, as well as the alcoholic in your entourage. Don’t let the stigma silence you!
6. Take time for your own recovery
When you have an alcoholic in your life, you can easily forget that you have your own feelings and needs, as you focus on the alcoholic. There are times when the people around you will judge you, when the alcoholic is going through a bad phase and you will feel there is no hope left for you. There is hope! There is always hope and you need to be comfortable with the fact every single door you open can bring you more unknown situations. Relax and take things as they come.
Accept the fact you can’t control everything. Remember you also have needs and look for ways to relax and recharge your batteries. In order to be able to support an alcoholic, you need to keep your own sanity and health, so never ignore your own person.
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