What Is It Really Like Living with an Alcoholic?

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited :November 19, 
2020 
| 4 Sources

Alcoholism and Family Life
Alcoholism and Youth



Anybody who cares about the alcoholic is damaged by their drinking, particularly those closest, the family.



living with an alcoholic

Happy and healthy families can become unhealthy and toxic when they start living with an alcoholic. For a family that had dysfunction before excessive drinking, their problems would likely be exacerbated when alcohol is thrown into the mix. For further information regarding concerning behaviors, please click signs of alcoholism.

Here are two, rather obvious statements that can often be forgotten or over looked:

1. Alcoholism and family life do not mix well

2. Living with an alcoholic is not easy and has many challenges

Obvious they may be, but they can never be overemphasized.

Be it a teen alcoholic, partner, parent or grandparent – a house hold does not run smoothly when you have a family member who is addicted to alcohol. The purpose of this page is to provide education and suggestions about how to cope with the challenges that come along with living with an alcoholic.

Making changes to a family system can be challenging, however knowledge is power, so take time to do your research and figure out what would be appropriate for your family.

Click on the links contained within the headlines to learn more about that specific topic.


"If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism and you want to speak to someone that understands, call our support assistants. As former addicts they are empathetic to the struggle you are facing. The conversation is free & they are available 24/7."
877-322-2694

Are You Enabling an Alcoholic in Your Family?

An often unintentional, and damaging part of a relationship with an alcoholic is when we become enablers. Many who are trying to help, are in actuality enabling their loved ones drinking. Below are a few common examples of enabling an alcoholic:

  • Taking responsibility for financial obligations, such as paying bills, that the alcoholic has let slip.
  • Allowing or accepting that they are calling in sick to work, when in reality, they are hungover from the previous night’s drinking.
  • Accepting part of the blame for their behaviors.
  • Avoiding talking about concerns you have with the hope of preventing their distress.


Read our page on enabling to find out more about how you may well be encouraging your loved one to drink(albeit unconsciously).

Living with an Alcoholic?

Are you Codependent?

Some people who live with an alcoholic get addicted to that person.

They are dependent on that person. That is they depend on them to feel good about themselves. The needs of the alcoholic become more important than your own, which is the foundation for an unhealthy relationship. For some, codependency can be linked to survival and perceived happiness.

Codependency is common, and is unhealthy for both individuals involved. While it is most common for codependency to be present within a romantic relationship, it is possible to be present in a friendship or a parent-child relationship.

AN EXAMPLE OF CODEPENDENCY:
If the alcoholic is in a bad mood so is the codependent. So the codependent will try and make the alcoholic happy. If the alcoholic is happy so is the codependent. How do you make an alcoholic happy..?

For more on this topic read codependency in relationships.


How to Spot Alcoholic Behavior

It can be difficult to spot the first signs of alcoholism. Casual drinking and even binge drinking are socially acceptable behaviors and not often viewed as troubling. 

Binge drinking is described as a drinking pattern that causes an individual’s blood alcohol count (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above. This oftentimes happens when women consume four or more drinks or men consume five or more drinks in about a couple of hours.

Alcoholics are masters of deception and can keep their addiction secret for many years. At least in the first stages of alcoholism.

Denial is a characteristic of alcoholism. It can be so strong that even the alcoholic doesn't realize he or she has an addiction. There is truth in the belief that you cannot help someone who doesn’t want help for themselves, especially with an alcoholic. 

However, there are signs and symptoms of alcoholism that can be seen if you know what to look for. Try to trust your instinct, your gut can be a powerful tool in recognizing that something isn’t right. 

Read our page on spotting alcoholic behavior to discover whether you or someone you care about is drinking alcoholically.

Also be sure to read about the personality of an alcoholic.


Self-Help For Those Who
Love An Alcoholic

Loving someone who is addicted to alcohol can be a tortuous experience. An "emotional roller-coaster", "like living in hell", "alcohol seems to be his first love" are just some of the things you may hear from those who are trying to cope with loving an alcoholic.

Despite the different experiences people have of living with an alcohol dependent, what, in my experience, they all want is not just help for their loved one but help for themselves. C.P.Lehman in his book Help Me! I'm in love With An Addict gives the significant others of alcoholics the tools and confidence to get their lives back  t while offering support and encouragement to their loved one.

Coping with an Alcoholic

It's not easy dealing with an alcoholic at the best of times. Particularly if the alcoholic in question is someone you care about. It becomes vital for the individuals supporting the alcoholic to take care of themselves.

Coping skills could include journaling, exercise, establishing healthy support and having adequate self-care practices. Seeking professional help could be a healthy choice as well. Mental Health Professionals are unbiased individuals who can help you address concerns you are having.

Read coping with an alcoholic to discover strategies to help you deal with the alcoholic in your life.

Also follow this link to get support for families of alcoholics.


Are you Married to an Alcoholic?

Alcoholism is deemed to be a huge health and social issue. Usually, family members of alcoholics endure physical, social, and psychological trauma because of the core alcohol problem of the family member. Most significantly affected are the alcoholics’ wives.

Majority of the alcoholics in the US have no multigenerational family history of the alcohol problem, implying that their kind of alcoholism was not likely to have genetic roots.

Common experiences of being married to or in a long term relationship with an alcoholic can be noticed. Examples of this can include:

  • Disengagement from family; such as missing family events
  • Focus on drinking and alcohol can cause trouble within the relationship
  • Financial concerns
  • An increase in the amount of verbal disagreements; for some this can become physical

Learn more about alcoholism in marriage. This page will also touch upon supports available.

Children and Alcohol: Teenage Drinking Facts

Parents worry about their children, it's only natural. Teenage drinking is a common concern for parents. While the signs of teen drinking can be similar to adult drinking, there are differences.

For example, teenage drinking is not legal. Teens also still have a developing brain which influences their decision making skills. You are more likely to see a negative impact on their schooling compared to adults who may struggle at the workplace.

Read teenage drinking facts to understand alcoholism and youth and to learn what you can do about it.


Alcohol Abuse Intervention

Worried about the drinking of someone you care about? Maybe it's time to confront them about their drinking and encourage them to seek treatment.

Alcohol-related issues — which is caused by drinking too fast, too often, or too much — are one of the most substantial public health problems in the US.

A lot of people struggle with limiting their alcohol consumption at some point in their lives. An estimated seventeen million adults ages eighteen and older have an AUD or alcohol use disorder.

When thinking about interventions, they are commonly assumed to be like the television show. This may be true, but the truth is that the show was created with entertainment in mind. Some aspects portrayed were true while others were embellished.

Involving a Mental Health Professional is a wise choice. They would be able to be an unbiased individual who is able to keep the conversation going in the right direction.

Read alcohol abuse intervention to learn more about the process and how to go about it.


Are You Dating an Alcoholic?

Does you date drink heavily? Worried that he/she might be an alcoholic?

You're right to be worried. Dating an alcoholic is challenging. They will always put alcohol first while in active addiction.


Go to dating an alcoholic? to learn if you are dating an alcoholic, and what you can do about it.


Signs Of An Alcoholic

Is a member of your family an alcoholic and you don't even realize it? It pays to be able to recognize the signs as alcohol dependency caught early is much easier to treat than more advanced alcoholism.

Read signs of an alcoholic to discover the three major signs of alcohol dependency in a family member.


Alcoholism and the Elderly

Worried about an elderly member of your family? Some learn that the older individuals in their family have excessive and prolonged drinking. Heavy drinking later in life can increase a person’s risk for adverse health effects.

Alcoholism in the elderly is on the rise. To find out why and what you can do about it click here.


Living with an Alcoholic
Teen Alcoholism

Teen alcohol abuse statistics show a worrying rise in teenage alcohol abuse. For some, teen alcoholism goes hand-in-hand with drug use as well.

What are the causes and how do we treat adolescents who have alcohol issues?

If you are concerned about a teenager you care about then read teen alcoholism for advice and information.


Living With an Alcoholic
Adolescent Alcoholism

There's no easy way to figure out if your teen has an adolescent alcoholism problem.

As you'll see, many of the signs and symptoms of teen alcohol abuse can also be considered as typical adolescent behavior. Some find it helpful to begin working with a Mental Health Professional to help differentiate what is normal versus what is concerning behavior.

However, combined with your intuition, this list of signs of adolescent alcoholism is as good a place as any to start, if you are concerned about an adolescent's behavior.


Living with an Alcoholic
Alcoholism Intervention

An alcoholic intervention is a process in which the alcoholic is talked to by family members and friends concerning his drinking behavior and how his excessive, chronic, and irresponsible drinking has affected himself and virtually everyone associated with him or her.

For more on how to conduct an intervention, when not to undertake an intervention and 10 tips for a successful intervention, read alcoholism intervention.


Living with an Alcoholic
How to Help an Alcoholic

Helping an alcoholic is not a matter of caring for them and trying to get them to stop drinking. In fact this is the worst thing you can do as it tends to lead to codependency and enabling behaviors.

To find out more about how to REALLY help an alcohol dependent read how to help an alcoholic.


Living with an Alcoholic
Alanon Meeting Online

Just as there are meetings for Alcoholics, so there are meetings for those living with an alcoholic.

And just as there are online meetings for alcoholics, so there are online meetings for those living with an alcoholic. These meetings can be a place to get support and learn about how to cope and live with an alcoholic.

The most popular offline and online meetings for those coping with an alcoholic are run by Al-anon.

For more on how these meetings work and how to find one, read Alanon Meeting Online.



"If your loved one is struggling with alcoholism and you want to speak to someone that understands, call our support assistants. As former addicts they are empathetic to the struggle you are facing. The conversation is free & they are available 24/7."
877-322-2694





Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


Hello!

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More



Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge Drinking. December 30, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help

National Center for Biotechnology Information. Living with an Alcoholic Partner: Problems Faced and Coping Strategies Used by Wives of Alcoholic Clients. January - June 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5248422/

National Institutes of Health. Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes. June 28, 2007. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/researchers-identify-alcoholism-subtypes



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