What to Do When Your Loved One is an Alcoholic

By Michelle Fondin

Woman worrying about her husband dealing with alcoholism
Michelle Fondin

When you are in the midst of the empty bottles, broken promises, and never-ending lies due to a loved one’s excessive drinking, it can feel like you’re all alone in the world. The shameful and sinking feeling that someone might find out the horror you’re experiencing can make you want to crawl into a hole. You are not alone.

In the United States, more than 17.6 million people suffer from alcohol abuse and misuse. A person suffering from alcohol addiction directly impacts between five and eight people in his or her immediate circle. Therefore, around 88 million Americans are in your shoes—baffled, hurting, and confused over this complex disease.

So, what can you do to make your loved one stop drinking and arrest the hurt that it’s causing you and your family? You’ve thrown out the alcohol. You’ve begged, pleaded, screamed, and threatened but nothing seems to work. There is a way out, but it’s going to look different than anything you ever imagined. Here is your step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Recognize That You’re a Good Person … and So Is Your Alcoholic

If you are a family member, lover, or friend of an alcoholic, chances are you are a good person with good intentions. Remember, this disease is insane. It attacks the brain of the person you love and makes them crazy and irrational, but not all the time. As you will begin to understand, when learning more about alcoholism, you are truly dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But it’s not completely their fault either, the person you love is very, very sick.

Many books on alcoholism give advice to stop enabling the alcoholic, and that’s sound advice. However, I’m here to tell you that you should never feel guilty about anything you have done to help your alcoholic in the past. After all, being a good person, you would always help or lend a hand to anyone else in your life that needed help, right? People who enable or who are co-dependents, as many coin the term, are compassionate, empathetic people. People like you are caretakers. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Step 2: Understand the Top 2 Downfalls of Helping Your Alcoholic

Established in the fact that you are a compassionate, loving, and empathetic person who finds it easy to care for others, try to understand the downfalls of helping your alcoholic.

Your alcoholic friend or family member has a disease that counts largely on consistently getting large amounts of alcohol and/or other drugs as the disease progresses. His or her emotional maturity stopped at the point at which he or she began abusing alcohol. His or her only goal is to get more alcohol to satisfy the drive within him or her. In doing so, he or she will neglect any and all responsibilities to cater to the drive to drink. This is where you come in.

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Source: Deepak Chopra  

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