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Family

Living With An Alcoholic

by: David Congreave

Living with an addict of any kind is always difficult, especially when you love them and they are part of your family. Addictive behavior is very destructive and the addict can unwittingly ruin the life of their loved ones.

It's enormously difficult to live with someone who is dependent on something that is ultimately killing them, socially or physically. The pain of it is too much for most people. As the addiction takes hold, a rift can be created in the family unit.

Because you don't want them to indulge their addiction, you will either try to prevent it or unwillingly enable it. But how do you figure out how to help them? Is what you're doing enabling their behavior? Living with an addict is a tricky business. As their disease progresses, they become more manipulative and this is never good for the person who loves them.

Addicts often become highly deceptive, even if the rest of the time they are honest and dependable. They deny where they have been and what they were doing even after you already know the truth. This behavior causes the family involved a lot of shame and anger. Many times they will offer excuses for the addict, attempting to hide or cover over their mistakes.

Always hold the addict responsible for their actions but try to see their damaging behavior as the symptoms of a serious illness. Don't become angry and abandon them, an addiction is all consuming, all powerful and they are likely punishing themselves far more than you can know.

Living with an addict will test you to your limits. It's a mistake to believe that you alone can help them change. This is completely wrong and will probably end up in cycles of abuse for you and the rest of your family. Above all addicts can't control their behavior. You can't expect them to change of their own accord. If they could, they wouldn't have become addicts in the first place. This is why you can't expect to be able to control their every action. It cannot and will not happen, and will lead to disappointment and resentment over time.

As a loved one of an addict all you can do is be loving and supportive. Encourage them to seek treatment but don't demand it. Treatment will only be effective when the addict is ready to fully admit the extent of the problem and is ready and willing to seek professional help.

Whatever you do, don't blame yourself for their behavior, but don't succumb to their manipulations and lies either. Doing nothing is not going to make things better, promises to stop are ineffective. You need to make sure that you don't enable their behavior in any way.

You may never have dreamed that you'd find yourself living with an addict. But many, many addicts have entered recovery and have changed for the better, almost beyond recognition. Hold on to the belief that some day your patience and support will prove to have been worthwhile.

See Also:

Living With An Alcoholic Ė Donít Forget To Have A Life
Often people who live with an alcoholic spend much if, not all, of their time looking after the drinker. They worry about when he will arrive home, even if he will arrive home.

AddictionsUK provide counseling and support for the family and friends of addicts. For more information, visit http://www.addictionsuk.com

 

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