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6 Things You Need To Know When You Love An Alcoholic

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6 Things You Need To Know When You Love An Alcoholic

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Featured photo credit: Diricia de Vet/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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