Living With an Alcoholic (part 2)

You need to start living and you need to start having a life of your own. Spend time with friends, join clubs, find things that interest you.

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Living With an Alcoholic (part 2)


In the previous article on living with an alcoholic we talked about things that you should not do. In this article, we'll talk about things that you could do to make it more certain that your partner will do something about their drinking. As suggested in the previous article, as the partner of the drinker you should not fall into the trap of co-dependency, that is living life reacting to the behaviour of the drinker. It is difficult to not fall into that pattern. However, that only reinforces the drinker's behaviour and increases the anger and resentment felt by the partner.

Instead, you need to start thinking about yourself. You need to start living and you need to start having a life of your own. Spend time with friends, join clubs, find things that interest you. If you can do this then it has a number of consequences. First you might actually enjoy it! It may be some time since you actually had time to yourself and did things for yourself. Second you may find that it takes your mind off some of the problems, you worry less and you are less stressed. Third it may send out a signal to the drinker that you're no longer spending your life waiting on them. This change in the environment can often lead the drinker to start considering their own behaviour. Indeed, they may start to believe that if they do not change then they may be alone.

Some commentators suggest that you should confront the drinker. In some cases this may be the right thing to do. However be careful. If you do confront then do not confront if the drinker is intoxicated. Also be very careful about confronting if there is a history of violence. You probably know the risks of the situation better than anyone but remember and be cautious. Make sure that you're safe and be doubly cautious if there are children involved. One method of confrontation involves getting family and friends as a united unit to do the confrontation. This does have a number of advantages. It presents a united front and would make it more difficult for the drinker to deny having a problem. Having a number of people involved in the confrontation may also provide a ready-made support network. It may also deflect attention away from yourself as the partner of the drinker, although be careful that attention may return again when you are alone.

It also helps if you are a positive and offer help and support. If the drinker suggests going to the doctor, rehab or AA than be positive about that and encourage it. One way you could be very encouraging is to suggest accompanying the drinker as they seek help. However it is extremely difficult and frustrating to wait for the drinker to come to a decision to change or seek help. Indeed it is very tempting to try and force the issue. Many partners of drinkers try to force the issue by leaving pamphlets or information booklets in prominent places so that the drinker will find them. Others have invited members of alcoholics anonymous to visit the house to talk to the drinker. The difficulty with both of these strategies is that if the drinker is not open to discussion about the drinking than it may actually offer an excuse for further or prolonged drinking.

Despite what some authors and commentators say, confrontation, either direct or indirect through literature, is not always the right thing to do. It works in some situations. It most definitely does not work in other situations. What does work is to start and live your own life. It does not necessarily require that you move out of the marital home, instead it may be that you carve out a life for yourself, independent of the drinker but still within the home. This may or may not lead to the drinker changing or seeking help, however it will lead to much more satisfying and fulfilling life for yourself. It will also be much better for any children in the relationship.

If you live with an alcoholic and would like some help then visit Bottled Up.