Approximately 14.1 million adults in the United States are living with alcoholism. 7.9% of these individuals have received treatment. This leaves the majority of individuals struggling with their addiction.
Living with an alcoholic can be challenging, and can lead to a marriage falling apart. One thing we know is that for some couples, staying in the relationship can be unhealthy and quite harmful.
A common behavior of someone addicted to alcohol is that they are focused on their next drink. As a result, the emotional and other needs of their partner and family members are often neglected which can add to the demise of a relationship.
When drinking is a priority, a person can lose interest in family time, not attend important events, forget events and anniversary’s and become angry or annoyed when others criticize their drinking. These behaviors can lead to resentments which can be harmful to a marriage.
Chances are, if you believe that your spouse has an addiction to alcohol, that you have had a feeling that something was not quite right for some time. Maybe you feel a sense of guilt for their drinking. There comes a time when you have to accept the situation you are in, and decide how you want to move forward.
By continuing to brush your partners drinking under the rug, they will likely will see your inaction as a green light to continue drinking. So even by not saying anything, you are saying something.
There are a number of courses of action you can take (and some you shouldn't take) if you believe you are in love with an alcoholic:
If you are married to an alcoholic, they would not be the appropriate person for you to reach out to for support.
There are, however, other people you can turn to for assistance:
Al-anon is an international "fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems."
Al-anon is a 12 step group. It was set up specifically for relatives and friends of alcoholics. A group of people who have their own set of problems, many resulting from their relationship with an alcoholic or addict.
Some problems could include low self-esteem, the inability to tell the difference between love and pity, and codependency attributes.
Al-anon is not for everybody. Some people feel that 12 step groups are too 'culty' and focus too much on the spiritual. However, give yourself the chance to test it out and see if you feel that way. What do you have to loose?
Al-anon does offer support among an empathetic group who can relate to your problems. You are not under any obligation and can take it or leave it. Al-anon can also be a good place to learn about addictive behaviors and recovery.
Please click al-anon meetings for more on this organization.
Another option if you are married to an alcoholic is to go for counseling and/or therapy. You could do individual therapy by yourself, or you could opt to do marriage counseling if you spouse is agreeable to attending and participating.
The advantages of this (over Al-anon) is that it is one-to-one which means it is tailored just for you and your problems. Mental Health Professionals are unbiased, empathetic individuals who provide you with a safe space to talk through you worries, fears and concerns.
Individual therapy would be an appropriate place to gain support for enabling behaviors, co-dependency and with learning to set healthy boundaries.
Therapy does take time, and depending on your insurance coverage, may be expensive to maintain.
There are times when enough is enough, which is not uncommon with a marriage where one person is addicted to alcohol.
It is never an easy decision to make and one that only you can make. It is not a sign of failure or weakness, rather it is a sign of strength.
There are many people who stay in loveless marriages that resulted from alcoholism. If you can relate to that, utilize your supports to figure out what a good plan for you would be. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are also times when it becomes necessary to leave an alcoholic spouse.
Abuse can take many forms. There is physical, verbal, emotional, even, financial abuse. If you are a victim of physical abuse then get out as quickly as you can. I know that it isn't that easy but there are places and people you can turn to for help.
If there are children or other dependents involved (that is living in the family unit). Then it is essential to take their welfare into consideration. Nobody likes to break up a family. But better a safe broken family than an unsafe family that doesn't work.
An alcoholic intervention is when you employ the services of a third party.
His or her job is to help confront the alcoholic about their behavior and the impact it is having on them and those around them.
The ultimate goal of an alcoholic intervention is to persuade the alcoholic to go into alcohol addiction recovery.
Read alcoholic intervention for more on this course of action and employing the services of a professional interventionist.
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