Loving an alcoholic can be a difficult and daunting task, especially if that alcoholic is not treating their alcoholism. Alcohol is merely a symptom of alcoholism, which means that stopping drinking is only the first step to recovering. When an alcoholic stops their drinking, but does nothing in order to treat the root of the problem, it can be just as bad as when they were drinking, if not worse. Loving an alcoholic who has stopped drinking but is not doing any work on themselves is also known as loving a dry-drunk.
There is a lot to learn for someone who begins loving an alcoholic but doesn’t quite know what alcoholism really means. Whether the alcoholic is a child, parent, or even a spouse, there are ways to approach every relationship possible with an alcoholic. I hope that through this blog post I can help those out there loving an alcoholic understand what is going on and help them learn how to navigate a relationship with an alcoholic.
What to do When Loving an Alcoholic
The big question on many people’s minds is what to do when loving an alcoholic? Before I get too far into this, I want to mention that there are support groups for the families and loved ones of alcoholics. The program is known as Al-Anon. These groups of people will have incredible amounts of knowledge about what to do when loving an alcoholic.
According to Al-Anon, it is possible to love an alcoholic, but hate the disease of alcoholism. It is important to separate the person from the disease. Understanding the disease is the first step of many to understand what to do when loving an alcoholic.
Al-Anon is a 12-step program, based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but is for families and spouses of alcoholics. If you are lost, wondering what to do when loving an alcoholic, Al-Anon will be a perfect place for you to go.
What Not to do When Loving an Alcoholic
On the other hand, learning what not to do when loving an alcoholic can be just as important as learning what to do when loving an alcoholic. Learning not to take things personally is an important step in loving an alcoholic. It becomes increasingly easy to take broken promises and lies personally, but it is important to understand that alcoholics lose control of their own decision making.
Understanding what not to do when loving an alcoholic also includes learning not to try and control the alcoholics behavior. As the alcoholic starts facing the consequences of their drinking, many times loved ones find it hard to do what they need to do, which is nothing. Allowing the consequences to play out in their fullest fashion is the only way to help stop the cycle from repeating itself over and over again.
Avoid Enabling a Loved One’s Behavior
Enabling the behavior by getting them out of trouble, trying to cover it up for them, lying for them, or lending a helping hand when the alcoholic finds themselves up against the wall will only encourage the alcoholic to continue down the destructive path they are on.
As hard as it may be, especially because it goes against what we believe to be the right thing, family members and loved ones must learn what not to do when loving an alcoholic, in order for them to recover.
Is it Possible for an Alcoholic to Love?
Although it may be difficult, even nearly impossible while in active alcoholic drinking, it is possible for an alcoholic to love once they begin their path in recovery. Many times, alcoholics also suffer from codependency, and codependency is not love.
Another reason alcoholics are not able to love is that they are unable to love themselves while they are in active alcohol addiction. Many alcoholics suffer from what is known as ‘king baby syndrome’. Alcoholics who have not recovered are extremely self-absorbed, and can even be labeled as narcissists. They contradictorily can have no love for themselves, while at the same time demand everyone’s attention through victimization, manipulation, and being overly dramatic.
The short answer to ‘can an alcoholic love’ is yes, but only once they begin to recover and start loving themselves, does loving someone else become a distinct possibility.
Short Term Advice for Loving an Alcoholic
Some short-term advice for loving an alcoholic includes remaining optimistic about the fact that recovery is very possible. Realizing that alcoholism is a medical condition and that help is out there can help a person maintain a positive attitude and remind them that their loved one can get better.
Another piece of short-term advice for loving an alcoholic is making sure to not blame yourself for any of their behavior. Alcoholics can be quick to point their finger and blame everyone else for their drinking. Understanding that they are solely responsible for their behavior is an important part of learning to cope with loving an alcoholic.
One last piece of short-term advice for loving an alcoholic is to attend Al-Anon. Going to a support group can be a huge relief as you navigate the minefield that is loving an alcoholic.
With these three pieces of short-term advice for loving an alcoholic, you can begin to understand the true nature of alcoholism and recover alongside the alcoholic you love.
Can an Alcoholic Recover Long Term?
The big question on just about every family member’s mind is, ‘can an alcoholic recover long-term?’ The answer to this question is yes, long-term recovery from alcoholism is not only a possibility, it is not all that difficult to achieve.
Disconnecting from the alcoholic, as to not enable them, gives the alcoholic the best chance at recovering. It is of the utmost importance that the alcoholic receives some kind of treatment, and they will only find willingness for treatment if the consequences start becoming too much for them to bare.
Getting the alcoholic out of trouble only enables them to continue their destructive behavior, and will prolong the process of recovery.
So, can an alcoholic recover long-term? Yes, it happens every day. Through programs like Divine Detox, men and women begin their journey of lifelong recovery that is sustained one day at a time for the rest of their lives.
Codependency in Alcoholic Relationships
Codependency in alcoholic relationships is extremely common. Codependent relationships are almost never healthy relationships, as they are not built around love, but rather the perceived need of the other person.
Codependency in alcoholic relationships can be a chicken and egg situation. Sometimes codependency can lead to alcoholism, and sometimes alcoholism can lead to codependency.
Enabling usually comes along with codependency, so a codependent relationship can stifle the alcoholics will to recover by allowing their destructive behaviors to continue. Codependency in alcoholic relationships is pervasive, and where you find one you will typically find the other.
Codependency and Prioritizing Self-Care
Feeling responsible for a partner’s behavior, giving up parts of your own life in order to take care of the alcoholic, feeling as though the relationship is the only thing in one’s life, and immense amounts of denial, are all signs codependency in alcoholic relationships.
Divine Detox has programs for the loved ones of alcoholics to help them learn to avoid codependency in alcoholic relationships, and help everyone involved recover together.
Helping an Alcoholic to Treatment
Once an alcoholic becomes willing to go to a rehab program, helping an alcoholic to treatment can be a difficult road to navigate. Once the person does become willing, it is important to seize that opportunity and get them help immediately before they change their mind.
Calling Divine Detox and talking to their admissions department will help you navigate that road as it arises. Do not wait, as the person may suddenly lose their will to go. Helping an alcoholic to treatment is one of the only times it is not enabling to help the alcoholic, so call our Admissions team the moment the opportunity presents itself.
Interventions and Intervention Specialists
Interventions can be an effective tool for helping an alcoholic begin their path of recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment can be effective even if it is not voluntary. This means that the only thing the alcoholic needs to do in order to being recovering, is end up in treatment whether by choice or being pressured or even forced to.
Intervention specialists are professionals who specialize in running interventions for addicted people. There is a general format they follow, which can be learned in order for the family to run an intervention themselves.
The goal of an intervention is to put pressure on the alcoholic in order for them to go to treatment. A person’s chances of recovery are increased exponentially the moment they enter a rehab facility. The willingness can come after they end up in treatment, as they begin to see how rewarding a path in recovery may just be.
When Should You Leave an Alcoholic You Love?
There are a few different signs that make it clear when you should leave an alcoholic you love. A huge sign is when their drinking begins to negatively effect your life. If you start feeling depressed or anxious, or if the consequences of their drinking start falling on your shoulders, it is probably a good time to start asking yourself ‘when should you leave an alcoholic you love?’
Another answer to the question ‘when should you leave an alcoholic you love?’ is when there seems to be no signs that the person will ever stop drinking.
Stay out of Danger: Your Safety is Top Priority
Another sign you should leave an alcoholic you love is if their behavior becomes dangerous or unpredictable. The longer a person goes down the road of active alcoholism, the more unpredictable they are likely to become.
There is no reason to put your safety at risk, and if the alcoholic becomes violent, it’s a big red flag that answers the question ‘when should you leave an alcoholic you love’ very clearly and objectively.
I hope it never reaches this point. I hope the person becomes willing to go to treatment. Not only for their wellbeing, but for yours and the rest of the family as well.
Treatment Options for Alcoholism
Divine Detox is a premier facility that offers many different treatment options for alcoholism, as well as classes for loved ones. As difficult as loving an alcoholic can be, it is not only possible, but it can end up being an even better relationship than those people who do not suffer from alcoholism or codependency. This is due to the fact that these relationships force people to learn coping strategies and other tools that not only solve issues but can be applied to make a good relationship even better.
Growing Stronger Together with Divine
As the couple begins to implement things they are taught from places like Divine Detox, the relationship grows exponentially. Doing the work can make a struggling relationship strong, and a strong relationship even stronger.
Even if you believe your relationship is a good as it gets, I can guarantee from my own experience that it can absolutely get even better. Call Divine Detox and ask about their treatment options for alcoholism, and their classes for loved ones, and you will be well on your way to a strong, healthy relationship in no time.
Long Term Recovery for Alcoholism is Possible
One thing is for sure, and that is that long-term recovery for alcoholism is possible. It is not as difficult as it may sound. Recovery is always possible for someone who is willing to do the work. As soon as that willingness is found, calling Divine Detox will make both loved ones and the alcoholic see that long-term recovery for alcoholism is possible.
It is important to understand that alcoholism can be a family disease. Everyone in the family must make changes in order to solve all the issues presented by alcoholism.
Loving an alcoholic can be difficult, especially if loved ones believe that the alcoholic is the only one who needs to make changes. It is easy to relinquish all responsibility to the alcoholic, but it does no good for anyone involved to do so.
Reach for Recovery with Divine
Divine Detox’s admissions department can guide you in making an informed decision to get everyone on the road to recovery. Not only is long-term recovery for alcoholism possible, long-term recovery for codependency is also possible.
Make the call today, Divine Detox is waiting eagerly to help anyone and everyone afflicted with the disease of alcoholism.