There is no easy way around it. Living with an alcoholic is challenging. The problem gets worse if the person is in denial about the problem.
Alcohol dependence, alcohol use disorder, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism are chronic. They represent the most severe range of substance misuse.
Many people who live with an alcoholic do not truly understand how insidious this disease is. Out of the goodness of their heart and belief in the power of kindness and love to motivate others, they feel they have it within themselves to help a person recover. They think that if their alcoholic loved one really cared about them, that love would be enough to make them stop drinking.
The reality is that an alcoholic likely has no desire to stop drinking and get help until drinking leads them to a crisis point. This is often called rock bottom.
It is important for people in a relationship with alcoholics to first understand the nature of alcoholism and then also understand how to cope while living with someone who is battling alcoholism.
What Is an Alcoholic?
An alcoholic is a person who is battling chronic alcohol use disorder. This disorder makes them lose control when they are around alcohol. They can’t control the amount or the frequency that they consume alcohol.
Alcoholism is a disease of the brain. It is a progressive condition characterized by worsening symptoms, relapse, and the continued use of alcohol despite negative consequences.
The brain of an alcoholic prioritizes alcohol above everything else. This includes health, love, shelter, and food. They put alcohol above their well-being and the well-being of others.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the alcoholic chooses alcohol over their children, their job, and their loved ones. The reality is that they are battling with an obsession. It is not a conscious decision to choose alcohol over their loved ones. Instead, it is a compulsion that they cannot control.
It is not uncommon for loved ones, children, and spouses to plead with the alcoholic to try to get them to stop. The alcoholic likely sees the negative effect their behavior is having, and they may want to break free from the addiction. However, without getting the proper care, the alcoholic is doomed to repeat a pattern of failure.
A person in a relationship with an alcoholic must understand two key things. First, no matter what you do, you cannot stop an alcoholic from drinking. Second, their alcoholism is not your fault.
What Does It Mean to Enable an Alcoholic?
If you live with an alcoholic, it is important that you take steps to ensure that you are not enabling their condition. When you love someone, you want to keep them safe and keep them away from harm. However, there is a very thin line between trying to protect someone you care about and enabling them to do things that are detrimental.
In order for an alcoholic to want to stop drinking, drinking must make their life so miserable and painful that it becomes unbearable. They need to experience the full impact of the consequences of their alcoholism.
Enabling an alcoholic includes giving them money to purchase alcohol or lying and covering for them when they are facing the consequences of their alcoholism. Some loving family members mistakenly take on themselves the consequences of their alcoholic loved one.
For many people, it is easier to close their eyes and pretend that the problem is not happening than to face the truth that someone they care about is an alcoholic. They can do this by not reporting when an alcoholic is breaking the law, taking risks, driving, or doing other things while intoxicated.
Enabling an alcoholic means that you are preventing them from getting to the point where they feel motivated to get professional help. An alcoholic will continue to use you as their safety net and take advantage of you until you force them to stop.
Is someone you love battling alcoholism? Have they reached rock bottom and now are looking for help? If so, contact us today at 855-334-6120. We look forward to helping your loved one take control of their life again.