When you love an alcoholic,it can be extremely challenging in so many ways. You want to help that person, but you also have to protect yourself. There are also fine lines that have to be distinguishedbetween helping an alcoholic and being an enabler.
You don’t want to give up on your loved one who is an alcoholic, but at the same time, are you doing so much for them to the point that they’re less likely to seek help?
What about your own mental and physical health? Are you ignoring your own needs to instead devote your time and energy to the person with a drinking problem?
All are very valid questions, and they’re things that so many people struggle with.
The following are some tips to help yourself learn to cope with an alcoholic’s behavior, and also the most productive ways to help them.
Find a Support Group
One of the most important things you can do if you’re grappling with a loved one’s alcoholism is findinga support group. Support groups have so many benefits.They can provide you with social support, as the name implies. That’s essential when you’re dealing with someone else’s alcoholism.
Support groups also let you share your storyand hear the stories of others so you know you aren’t alone and you can learn from the experiences of other people.
Support groups can also help you work through your ownfeelings about your loved one’s alcoholism, and potentially even find solutions to specific problems you may be struggling with.
Al-Anon is one group that loved one of alcoholics often find helpful, and it’s basedon the 12-step framework. There is the concept of “one day at a time” that underlies Al-Anon, so it breaks down a significant problem into manageable steps, anda lot of people find that helpful.
Learn More About Alcoholism
Alcoholism is also called alcohol use disorder, and it’s characterizedas a disease by medical professionals. Alcohol use disorder goes beyond just drinking too much, and it’s more than being a problem drinker in many cases.
Alcohol use disorder is a complex, chronic disorder affecting the brain and psychological health as well as physical health and behavior.
The more you can learn, the more you can separate your loved one from their alcoholism, and the better equipped you’ll be to deal with it.
As much as you want to help someone who has a problem with alcohol, there’s only so much you can do. Youalso have to set clear, defined boundaries and stick with them. Thisis important to protect yourself, but also the other person in many ways.
Be firm on your boundaries and let the person who struggles with alcohol use disorder know that while you care about them and love them, there are certain things you are not going to do or engage in.
Youcan remainsupportive without letting your boundaries be crossed.
An intervention is an opportunity to approach an alcoholic about their problem and encourage them to get treatment. You can’t force someone to make a change or go into treatment, and interventiondoesn’t seek to do that. Instead, an intervention aimsto show the person with the alcohol problemhow their actions are affecting others.
An intervention shouldn’t feel like an attack or an ambush, and there are very specific ways to do an intervention. Some people opt to work with a professional who can help guide and structure the intervention. If this isn’t an option, it is important to research the best approaches and be very prepared.
Finally, a lot of dealing with someone who has an alcohol problem relies on you learning how to cope and manage yourself. You have to understand and learn that alcoholism is a disease and you shouldn’t take it personally.
For example, you may feel that your loved one chooses alcohol over you or consistently breaks promises. Don’t take these things personally, because at the end of the dayyou’re mentally punishing yourself for something you don’t have control over, andthe other person likely doesn’t either.
You also can’t try to control the other person or the situation. Sometimes you do have to let someone you care about hit their bottom before they are ready to accept help, and if you try and step in and remove the consequences, you’re doing both of you a disservice in the long-run.