Those who live or have lived with alcoholics are deeply affected by the experience. Many times, frustration and stress can be caused by your own actions and choices. By adjusting your approach and attitude you can place it in a different perspective so that it no longer dominates your thoughts and your life.
Here are some things that you can stop doing that may help ease the pressure you’re feeling.
Don’t Buy Into It
It’s typical for alcoholics to try to blame their drinking on circumstances or others around them, including those who are closest to them. It’s common to hear an alcoholic say, “The only reason I drink is because you…”
Don’t fall for it. If someone is an alcoholic, they are going to drink no matter what you do or say. It’s not your fault.
Taking It Personally
When alcoholics promise they will never drink again, but they go back to drinking as much as ever, it is easy to take the broken promises and lies personally. You may think, “If she really loves me, she wouldn’t lie to me.” But if she’s addicted to alcohol, her brain chemistry may have changed to the point that she may not be in control of her own decision making.
Trying to Control It
Many family members try everything to get their loved one to stop drinking. You may think there is something that you can do, but alcoholics can’t control their drinking. Unfortunately, this usually results in leaving their family members feeling frustrated and lonely.
When an alcoholic reaches a crisis point, sometimes that’s the time the person finally admits he has a problem and reaches out for help. But if friends or family members rush in and “rescue” the person, it can delay the decision to get help.
Stopping a Crisis
For those who love an alcoholic, it is very difficult to just let the problem play out to its fullest extent. When they reach a point in their abuse when they get a DUI, lose their job, or get thrown in jail, it is a difficult concept for their loved ones to accept that the best thing they can do is to do nothing. It seems to go against everything they believe. Unfortunately, this causes the cycle to repeat…indefinitely.
Learning detachment will help you allow a crisis—one that may be the only way to create change—happen.
Trying to Cure It
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can be fatal to the drinker. You love someone who is needs professional treatment to get healthy again but that’s their responsibility, not yours. You’re not a trained counselor and you can’t cure a disease.
Alcoholics usually go through a few stages before they are ready to make a change. Until they contemplate quitting, any actions you take to “help” her quit will often be met with resistance.
Covering It Up
Alcoholics typically don’t want people to know how much they drink because if he full extent of the problem became known, people might try to intervene. If family members try to “help” (enable the alcoholic) by covering up for their drinking and making excuses, they are playing right into the denial game. Dealing with the problem openly and honestly is the best approach.
Accepting Unacceptable Behavior
Accepting unacceptable behavior usually begins with some small incident that family members brush off with, But the next time, it may get a little worse and then even worse. You slowly begin to accept more and more and before you realize it, you can find yourself in a full-blown abusive relationship.
Abuse is never okay and you don’t have to accept it in your life. It’s important to protect your children from unacceptable behavior as well as growing up in an alcoholic home can leave lasting scars.
Having Unreasonable Expectations
One problem of dealing with an alcoholic is that what might seem like a reasonable expectation might be totally unreasonable with an alcoholic. When they swear to you and to themselves they’ll never touch another drop, you might expect that they are sincere and they won’t drink again. But is it reasonable to expect someone to be honest with you when the person is incapable of even being honest with himself or herself?
Living in the Past
The key to dealing with alcoholism is staying focused on the situation as it exists today. Alcoholism is a progressive disease that continues to get worse until the alcoholic seeks help. You can’t allow the mistakes of the past to affect your choices today because circumstances change.
Often, loved ones enable alcoholics to continue along their destructive paths. What happens when you enable an alcoholic? It depends on the situation but what usually happens is that the alcoholic never feels the pain and it takes the focus off of their behavior.
For example, if an alcoholic passes out in the yard, and you help him into the house and into bed, only you feel pain. The focus becomes the things you did rather than what he did. If he wakes up on the lawn and comes into the house while you and the children are eating breakfast, the only thing for him to face is his own behavior. In other words, his actions, rather than your reaction, becomes the focus. It is only when he feels and accepts his own pain that he will want to change.