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There are several signs and symptoms of alcoholism. If the person you are living with experiences any of the following, it is a good idea to seek guidance for dealing with the issue:
Everyone is different. Some people can have alcohol use disorder and experience very few if any of these things. Other people have several of these symptoms but do not have a problem with alcohol. When determining if the person you live with has a drinking problem, consider the big picture. If you know they drink a lot and/or drink frequently and they have at least a few of these symptoms, chances are there is a problem with alcohol.
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People living with an alcoholic partner or family members deal with many negative things. The experience affects their health and happiness. It also poses short- and long-term issues.
.A relationship with someone with an alcohol addiction is rarely fulfilling. It also makes it challenging to feel happiness in future relationships. There are too many broken promises and too much distrust in a relationship with someone with addiction to feel comfortable, safe, and respected. This doesn’t mean the relationship can never be a good one. But for it to improve, the addicted person must be willing to get help.
Living with an alcoholic is traumatic, especially if there is serious abuse.
Additionally, people living with someone with AUD experience financial problems, problems at work, social isolation, and difficulty maintaining relationships with family and friends. If the alcoholic is a parent, the effects of the situation will be lasting. Children of alcoholics tend to find many aspects of their lives challenging well into adulthood. They also have a higher risk of developing AUD or other substance use disorders themselves.
Some of the most common issues people living with alcoholics deal with include:
Tips for living with an alcoholic include:
1. Don’t blame yourself
You are not responsible for your loved one’s disorder.
2. Know your boundaries and respect them
Having boundaries avoids co-dependency and sets limits for your loved one.
3. Recognize the signs of alcoholism and specifically when your partner has been drinking, especially if there are abuse issues
The more you understand about the disorder, the better. It’s also important to know when a situation could escalate and/or threaten your safety and well-being or that of another family member.
4. Develop coping strategies that help you maintain your mental health
Find ways to ease the stress of the situation you are in. This could include seeing a therapist, putting physical distance between you and your loved one, or having a trusted friend to call when things get tough.
5. Seek help or set up an intervention
There comes a point when you must take action. Working with an expert in AUD and addiction makes these decisions easier.
6. Find resources and support
There are many options available to help people who care about alcoholics. Groups like Al-Anon offer peer support and access to other resources. Find at least one option that feels comfortable for you and gives you someone to turn to when you are struggling with your situation.
7. Know when to walk away from the relationships
Sometimes there isn’t anything else you can do to help your loved one. Having a plan to remove yourself from the situation is an important step in taking care of yourself and other members of your family.
Ultimately, someone with alcohol use disorder must accept help if they want to recover. However, there are several things you can do to provide support and encouragement. There are also many addiction treatment options available for alcoholics. For example:
For most people, a combination of treatment options offers the best chance at recovery.
In addition to treatment programs for people with AUD, there are also support options available to those living with someone with alcoholism.
Al-Anon is the most popular support program available to loved ones of alcoholics. It is a program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and provides peer support to adults. People participating in Al-Anon understand the challenges and devastation of living and loving someone with a problem with alcohol.
Alateen is similar to Al-Anon but it’s for children of alcoholics. It gives kids an opportunity to spend time with their peers and discuss their alcoholic parent with people their own age who understand and can relate to the situation.
Many people living with alcoholics participate in individual therapy. Sometimes people involved with people with AUD need help to behave in a less codependent manner. Working with a therapist who understands alcoholism and the toll it takes on families and who knows how to help those who are codependent is very helpful to people living with alcoholics.
If you experience any of the following, consider speaking to a therapist who has experience dealing with codependency and addiction:
It’s also important to keep in mind that you cannot control what your loved one does or manage their alcohol consumption. You can offer support and encouragement, and set boundaries, but ultimately it is their decision if they want to recover. For many, this means there is a point at which they must walk away from someone with an alcohol problem, no matter how painful it is for everyone.
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Loneck, B., et al. “The Johnson Intervention and Relapse during Outpatient Treatment.” The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, vol. 22, no. 3, 1 Aug. 1996, pp. 363–375, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8841685/, 10.3109/00952999609001665.
“Help for Women Living with a Problem Drinker.” Stop Spinning My Wheels, ubwp.buffalo.edu/ssmw/.