In the two previous articles in this mini-series we discussed the Dilemma of living with an alcoholic and Changes that you can make to improve your life. In this final article we will introduce you to ways that you can influence your alcoholic.
The first issue that we need to address is the widely held belief that you are powerless, we have discussed previously and you might want to look at what we said about this issue (Powerlessness article). It is true that many alcoholics are resistant to change, but this is very different from saying that we are powerless to influence them. In Bottled Up we provide workbooks to show you two ways of influencing a drinker, depending on how established the drinking pattern is.
The first method of influence we call SHARE, which is an acronym for Safety, Health, Ambition, Relationships and Environment, which are five distinct areas of your life that may be affected by his drinking. If the drinking pattern is a long established one then we suggest that SHARE is the method you use first. The main reason to use this approach is to reduce the negative effect of drinking on you and your household, rather than trying to get him to stop drinking altogether.
If you live with an alcoholic who has a long established pattern of drinking, then you already know how difficult it is to get him to change. You have no doubt tried every trick, method and technique there is to get him to stop. And, if you are reading this, the likely result is that nothing has worked, in fact each new attempt to get him to change probably starts another big fight and maybe even another drinking binge. For that reason instead of saying “I want you to stop drinking” this approach says “I know you are going to drink, I’m just asking that you do it in a safer or less harmful way”.
The way you go about this method is to examine each of the areas of your life that SHARE represents. You then write down a list of all the problems that his drinking causes in these areas. When you have your list then you score the problems out of 10. Finally you select the three problems that cause the biggest disruptions in your life, if there are more than three with high scores then pick the ones related to your, or your children’s, safety first. Now you are ready to have a conversation with your drinker.