When you live with an alcoholic one of the best survival strategies is to detach, preferably with love. If you live with an alcoholic or a problem drinker you will almost certainly find yourself worrying about if he is going to drink, when he is going to drink, what he is going drink, how much he is going to drink and what the consequences of the drinking will be. You are being sucked into his world and your life is being dictated by his behavior. Increasingly you will find yourself trying to control this world by seeking assurances that he won't drink, or won't drink too much, or won't drink with the car, or a thousand other scenarios.
People who live with an alcoholic often feel that they are changing. They can feel that their personality is changing, and not usually for the better. Where there was once a relaxed and carefree person who was fun loving and keen to socialize with friends, now you probably feel like someone else entirely. You probably feel like you are constantly nagging, critical and bad tempered. Socializing with friends may be a thing of the past or alternately, if you and your drinker still socialize, it may be a nightmare for you.
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You find yourself wondering what he will do or say, who he will upset and just how drunk will he get. It is little wonder that many people who live with an alcoholic withdraw from their friends. They feel guilty about their drinking partners as if it is somehow their fault and they feel ashamed and embarrassed to be with him when he is drunk. He may or may not be an abusive or belligerent drunk but even an affable and funny drunk becomes boring and tiresome pretty quickly.
Often people who live with an alcoholic have low self esteem, they do not like themselves very much. Indeed they often feel that they are not very lovable or even likable. Years of trying to change the alcoholic take its toll mentally and physically. You may find that you have problems sleeping, that you are constantly tired and your mood is always low and you often feel weepy, sometimes for no apparent reason. (These are some of the classic symptoms of depression and if you are experiencing them then you should seek help from your family doctor.)
You may find that your eating habits have changed and that you are losing weight or gaining weight. Often people who live with an alcoholic find that their general health is poor. They find themselves suffering from a variety of colds, flu and low level illnesses. Not only do they catch these illnesses easily they may also find that they have difficult recovering from them. Therefore they can find themselves feeling poorly for much of the time. Much of this can be caused by stress, which recent research has found can have an affect on the immune system.
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Thus living with a problem drinker can bring many problems social, mental and physical. One way to reduce the impact and reduce these problems is to detach with love. In the next article we will discuss what detaching with love means.
For more information about how to survive living with an alcoholic go to Bottled Up.