Most of us will come across people who are drinking too much in social situations. And to be fair, who hasn't — from time to time — had one (or three) too many drinks at their own birthday party? The summer season is nearly upon us. It's time for holiday celebrations and barbecues at which keeping the wine and beer flowing is part of being hospitable.
For some of us, however, this season highlights a much more commonplace and personal issue because our close relationships are already overshadowed by the spectre of problem drinking. We view celebrations with growing dread as they provide our problem drinker with what they consider to be a legitimate excuse for excess.
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The following is a quick guide to managing drunken behaviour wisely and minimizing its destructive impact. If you are out at a social occasion try to remember that if your partner is behaving atrociously, he/she is embarrassing him/herself — not you. Don't give yourself a hard time if you decide to leave early, take the car and leave your partner some money for a taxi home later. It's simply putting up a boundary which is a very wise thing to do.
However, the real problems accelerate behind closed doors. Your drunk partner enters the house where social norms no longer demand his/her natural restraint and the real problems begin. So what do you do? As a relationship expert, here's my advice:
Avoid Confrontation In The Moment
This is hard, particularly if you are in close relationship with the person who is drinking. For a start, you will be feeling understandably angry that your partner has moved to that point where the drink appears to be taking over. OK, we've all laughed at amiable, giggling drunks in our time, but the joke soon wears thin when it's your partner doing it over and over again. Amusement is quickly replaced by concern, annoyance and — if it goes on and on — a deep rage, which those who live with compulsive behaviors will really understand. At that point the temptation to sit your drunk down and give him a large piece of your mind feels almost irresistible, and it's highly likely you have done just that!
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However, more often than not, it's like sticking your finger in a wasp's nest. Out come the verbal insults and twisting half-truths that sting, frustrate and offend. You may feel better for a moment, but an argument with a drunk can quickly escalate to a new level of tension, aggression and non–compliance. And even if your drinker is amiable and garrulous and wants to "talk deeply" (how often I've fallen for that one) the chances are he/she won't remember a thing in the morning. There is a time to talk things through and express how disappointed, hurt and angry you are, but not when he/she is still intoxicated! Keep reading...
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