It can be frustrating to see someone you love succumb to alcoholism whether it is a friend, relative, or someone you are in love with. You want to change them and you want to scream at them for all that they have put you through without thinking of addiction as a brain disease. It is important that we be careful about what we say or do when someone we love is an alcoholic and that there is always hope for them to get help.
It does not matter if your loved one or yourself has made you feel like you have added stress to that person’s life to lead them to drinking. In the end, that person made the decision to drink so you should not blame yourself. There are healthier ways to handle stress instead of indulging in alcohol. No matter what you do or say, that person will still continue to drink. You should also not take it personally when you see your loved one relapse. You may feel like if that person really loved you, they would stay sober for you. The truth is that once alcoholism has changed the brain, it will take more than just one person to keep them sober. Because their brain chemistry has changed, that person will be surprised by their own actions and will have no control over them.
Another thing you should stop trying to do is save the addict as you will end up frustrated not only at your loved one but yourself. Every time you save an addict, you are preventing that person from learning from their actions. For example, if someone you love is passed out on the front lawn and you carry them back into the house, they will wake up back in the house and know that someone will always be there to fix their mistakes. Just like if you bail that person out of jail, they will always expect you to do that. Maybe if that person woke up on the front lawn the next morning, they would wonder how they got there and how they never want to be in that position again. It can be the hardest thing to stand back and do nothing but it is the only way to learn by letting others make mistakes.
You should also not carry the responsibility of getting care for the one you love. It can take over your life to find help for that person as addiction can be a long battle. You need to be there for your own family and your career instead of dropping your loved one off at rehab or getting them out of trouble. Even if you are a professional counselor, you should let someone else handle it from the outside. All you can do is make suggestions to that person about what can make someone want to stop drinking and what to stay away from to avoid a relapse. Do not cover up their drinking and make excuses for them like saying that person has been through a lot or they have not physically hurt anyone. By covering up, you are playing to their denial.
Enabling alcoholism is one of the worst things you can do to someone suffering from addiction. It may be hard to turn that person down when they are begging you to give them money to finance their addiction. They may lie and say it is to pay rent or for a car payment but you know what it will really be used for. By enabling someone’s addiction, you are only going to make it worse and it will be even harder for that person to get help. As hard as it may be, it is best to refuse giving that person any money even if they make it seem like it will be life or death without the drugs. Any unacceptable behavior that person shows should not be acceptable. For example, if that person insults or physically hurts your children as a result of their alcoholism, do not allow that person to get away with it. Protect your children and keep them away if that person is putting you and others in danger. It is best not to have unreasonable expectations in your loved one like if they promise you that they will never touch alcohol again. They most likely will without any treatment. If they are not honest with themselves, they will most likely not be honest with you. The same goes if you expect them to recover within a few days. Everyone is different and you must expect the long haul.
Just because you cannot rescue someone who is an alcoholic does not mean that you need to watch as well. You can make suggestions like bring that person to Al-Anon groups so they can learn about their addiction from other people and learn how to manage it. What you say to someone who is an alcoholic is very important as well. For example, telling that person to just stop drinking will not make them stop as their brain chemistry has changed. You should also never feel like that person will never stop being an addict as you cannot predict the future. Thousands have been treated for addiction every day and your loved one can be one of those people if they are given the resources they need for treatment.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Center’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery. For more information, please call us 888-570-7154 at as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.