E is for Encourage change. Anyone changing any behaviour needs encouragement and affirmation. Drinkers are no different in that respect. Giving encouragement also helps you to feel part of that change, that it is a team thing, rather than something that s/he is struggling with alone.
OK, we can just hear that protests, but they are still drinking, so what’s to encourage!? Over the last few decades we have come to regard change as all or nothing, especially in drinking. The disease model of alcoholism tends to promote that attitude.
If we adopt that criteria for change – drinking vs not drinking – then many will be disappointed as it does not always happen like that. Sometimes changes can be small, like drinking less or less often or respecting a boundary that you have agreed, or agreeing to look for .help.
Recognising these small changes and affirming them can help to produce more and bigger changes. It can also help you by increasing your sense of hope.
V is for valuing your drinker. It is all too easy to forget your drinker’s good points, the things that attracted you in the first place. Hardly surprising, if s/he is drinking excessively and become undependable and lies about the drinking, it is difficult to have positive feelings towards them.
If your feelings are becoming increasingly negative (again, not surprising) then they can leak out, or even just become the way that you communicate with them. If that is the case then, unknowingly, you may be exacerbating the problem, both for the drinker and for yourself.
In this video we explore how you might start to reverse this process and feel better about your drinker, and about yourself.
O is for optimising your time when they are sober. There is a great temptation to ‘punish’ the drinker in some way when the alcohol has worn off. The ‘punishment’ may take a number of forms, eg the silent treatment or picking a fight.
These are very natural reactions to the heavy drinking that has preceded the period of sobriety. However, regardless of how justified those reactions may be, they are unlikely to result in any positive change. In fact, in many cases it may exacerbate the drinking instead.
In this video we discuss another approach. The rationale behind this approach is both short term peace and a demonstration that there is life after alcohol.