Alcoholism is insidious and can, if allowed to, tear apart the entire family.
However, there are strategies you can employ to help you cope with an alcoholic in a less disruptive way.
Below you will find some guidelines on how best to cope with an alcoholic, they are not set in stone so adapt them to your particular circumstances.
7 Guidelines for Coping with an Alcoholic
Confront Them You do need to let them know that you are aware that they have a problem. Often, they aren't aware of it or at least not admitting it to themselves. They are in what is called alcoholism denial Unfortunately, often loved ones will deny it as well. Rather than coping with an alcoholic, they'll pretend the problem doesn't exist. Even if your loved one won't admit the truth to themselves, it will help you deal with things better by getting the problem out into the open.
Set Boundaries As a family member, dealing with an alcoholic can play havoc with normal relationships and boundaries. You must set clear boundaries and have clear consequences for when the alcoholic crosses those boundaries. If you set a boundary, you must carry through with the consequences or the behavior will definitely continue and most likely escalate.
Let Them Live with the Consequences It's easy for those of us who are coping with an alcoholic to want to make things go away in order for life to be smooth. This is not the best way to deal with it, however. The alcoholic will never hit bottom and have the incentive to change if we continue to smooth the road for them. They need to live with the consequences that come from their drinking.
Do Not Enable Them Don't cover up for the alcoholic by lying to their boss or calling in sick for them. Don't make excuses to people for their actions. Some people hide the alcoholic's behavior from the world and they shouldn't. By hiding it, you are enabling an alcoholic to continue with their behaviors.
Take Care of Yourself You need to think about what is best for you and act accordingly. A support group, such as Al-anon, can be very helpful in learning to take care of yourself, separate from the alcoholic.
Let Go Sometimes it gets to the point where coping with an alcoholic is just too much and it puts you in danger. You may have to give the alcoholic an ultimatum – stop drinking or I'm out of here. There is nothing wrong with this but be sure that if you lay down an ultimatum that you stick to your guns and follow through on your promise. Sometimes tough love is the only way to get through to them.
Support Sobriety Dealing with an alcoholic can sometimes be difficult even when they are trying to stay sober. Defeating alcoholism is not just a matter of giving up drinking, therefore the recovering alcoholic will have to deal with some emotional and physical symptoms that could result in them lashing out at those closest to them. There will also be times where they will be tempted to stray and drink. Help them by not drinking around them and make sure they know you support what they are doing.
Coping with an alcoholic is incredibly difficult. Yet, it doesn't need to be, C.P.Lehman in his book, Help Me! I'm In Love With An Addict gives you the strategies that will enable you to cope better with the alcohol dependent in your life. Get your life back on track and find the happiness you so deserve.
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Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice, Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)