Loving an Alcoholic or an Addict
Alcoholism is a problem for many couples. Research shows that over 30% of Americans exceed the FDA guidelines for alcohol use (one drink a day for women and two for men). If your loved one drinks to cope with everyday life, the problem has snaked its way into your relationship and everyone close to you will be poisoned.
Unfortunately most people don't realize the harmful effects of alcoholism on a relationship until it's too late. If you're with someone who is abusing alcohol, it's time to wake up and drink some coffee.
To find out if you or your partner are drinking alcoholically ask yourselves the following questions.
1. Have you ever felt that you should cut down?
2. Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
Answering yes to even one may be the sign of a problem. More detailed information is available from The National Institute on Alcoholism at www.niaaa.nih.gov or by calling 301-443-3860.
Many people abuse alcohol because they cannot deal with the pain they are feeling or they just want to shut down and escape, doing this regularly is dependence. Alcohol may make you feel better for the moment, but it doesn't last long and it creates a myriad of problems in your relationship and your life.
Some would say that a little excess now and again isn't a crime. I beg to differ; if you're driving while intoxicated it's a crime. And if something unthinkable happens and someone is killed or injured, there is no getting over it or fixing it. Your life and the lives of those you love are damaged forever.
If you ignore your own values by thinking that you are needed or helping your alcoholic partner, a co-dependency is in progress. In truth this is only enabling the destructive behavior.
In order to deal with this demon, you need to get support (like Al-anon) and demand that your alcoholic partner get help. You should also follow these six survival skills developed by Jan Ligon, Ph.D.
1. Detach from the problem.
2. Set strong boundaries.
3. Know where you stand.
4. Support your partner's sobriety.
5. Simplify by setting small goals.
6. Sustain your physical health.
Additional assistance may be only a mouse click or a phone call away. The telephone number for The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service is 800-662-HELP and you can find The Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator on-line at www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
If your partner resists getting help through AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), going to a treatment center or doesn't believe he or she has to quit completely there is some good news. According to research, 75% of alcohol abusers recover without professional treatment or 12-step groups, and 20% of former problem drinkers report that can drink occasionally without relapse.
The bottom line is that alcoholism directly affects those you love and no relationship can survive it. If you want to keep what you have, it's worth giving up the habit.