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Living With An Alcoholic

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Living With An Alcoholic
This article discusses a few behaviours that can make drinking worse rather than help to improve it.

One of the commonest questions anyone working in the addiction field is asked is "How can I stop my wife/husband/partner from drinking so much?" Unfortunately the short answer to that is - you can't. They will stop when it suits them, whether that is because they hurt so much or because circumstances change. That is painful to hear, but nevertheless it is true.

There is some good news, however, and that is if you can't actually stop them drinking then there are things that you can do, or stop doing, that will make it more likely that they will take action and/or seek help for their drinking. Below we have listed a number of things that you should avoid doing, as they often have the opposite effect to what you intended intended, making the situation even worse. We will discuss the things that you should do in another article.

More from YourTango: Why Do Alcoholics Refuse To Stop Drinking?

Don't protect the drinker from the naturally occurring consequences of drinking. If they embarrass themselves don't make excuses, or if they fall don't pick them up. Only intervene if there is a danger of the drinker being injured. For most people this kind of 'tough love' is a difficult thing to do, to just ignore a loved one when they are drunk goes very much against the grain. However, protecting the drinker means that they never suffer the consequences and so are never aware of the severity of their drinking. Since many believe that problem drinkers only seek help when they are hurting, this means that  protecting the drinker only delays that time coming and that, it could be argued, is more cruel.

Don't protect the drinker from other consequences. If they take time off work through being too drunk or too hungover, don't phone the boss and give an excuse.  (However you may want to consider this carefully if you are dependent on his wage.) The problem drinker is only too happy for someone else to accept responsibility, whereas they need to accept responsibility for their own behaviour if they are to change. 

Don't collude with the drinker. If they spend all their money on drink, don't lend them money or pay their debts. Again this is protecting and delays recognition of the extent of the problem.

More from YourTango: From Philip Seymour Hoffman To Shawn Pyfrom: Life As An Addict

Don't join in and drink along with the drinker. It may seem a natural thing to do - "if you can't beat them join them" but this just makes the drinking behaviour appear to be normal, which of course it's not. Besides if you try and keep up you could end up needing help yourself, and one drunk is more than enough for any household.

Don't scream and shout and nag about the drinking behaviour. This just provides an excuse to drink even more. That is, the logic that is used here is "I drink because you nag" rather than "You nag because I drink". Yea, I know that is not logical but hey this is not about logic, its about drinking.

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr John McMahon & Lou Lewis

Author

Dr John McMahon & Lou Lewis

Bottled Up

john@247helpyourself.com

Location: Exeter, DEV, United Kingdom
Credentials: BS, PhD
Specialties: Addiction, Drug and Alcohol, Family Support
Other Articles/News by Dr John McMahon & Lou Lewis:

Why Do Alcoholics Refuse To Stop Drinking?

By

It seems crazy, booze is making him ill, everyone can see that, her friends don't want to be around her, and she can't see that. Why can't they see what everyone else sees so clearly? Why do they seem incapable of recognizing that that there is a problem at all and that it is destroying them?  With all these signs of a problem, why do ... Read more

From Philip Seymour Hoffman To Shawn Pyfrom: Life As An Addict

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Philip Seymour Hoffman dies of a Heroin overdose and Shawn Pyfrom publicly admits to being an alcoholic and a drug addict on the same day. What a powerful message that addiction is no respecter of gender, age or social status. It can affect people who seem to have everything just as easily as those with nothing. We have no intention of moralising in this ... Read more

How Can He Love Me, But Not Put Down The Drink?

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The infamous relationship question as a partner of a drinker is difficult for you to understand, and rightfully so. If he loves you as much as he says he does, why can't he stop drinking? He says he loves you and even gushes sentiments about how much he loves you, needs you and wants you, yet when you ask him to stop drinking, cut down or not drink for one ... Read more

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