February 26, 2007
Living with an alcoholic is difficult at best but there are choices you can make and steps you can take to improve the situation. None of these choices or steps will be easy and you may find yourself thinking that it is easier to just leave things the way they are. If this is what you decide you need to know that nothing will improve and your partner is unlikely to stop drinking on his/her own.
Step One: Realize that playing the “savior” is not helping anyone. You have tried to help your addicted partner by getting him/her out of various situations that were perpetuated because of alcohol use.
You need to stop doing this immediately and let your partner take the fall for his/her behavior.
Step Two: Find support for yourself and other family members who need it. You will have even more trouble getting through this if you do not have the support of people who have already lived through a similar situation.
Professionals or those in support groups know exactly what you are dealing with and they can help you figure out how to handle your feelings of guilt, anger and desperation.
Step Three: Tell your partner that the living arrangements are about to change unless he/she is willing to get help immediately. You need to be prepared to follow through with this threat.
If your partner will not seek help you should not have any relationship with him/her until he/she does and recovery is in full swing and you are reassured that the behaviors have radically changed for the better.
Step Four: Be prepared to help. Before you confront your partner you should have several treatment options ready to discuss.
Be prepared to talk to your partner about each one and be ready to answer questions about each option. If your partner is willing to go to a doctor or clinic for help you may want to agree to go to the first appointments and any other visits that are recommended.
You do need to let your partner know that the responsibility of getting better and following through on treatment is not up to you. All of that is dependent on him/her.
Step Five: Remember that the alcoholic is responsible for his/her drinking. You are not to blame and nothing you have done has made the alcoholic drink.
Step Six: You may want to consider your own personality to help you understand your relationship with the alcoholic. Are you a person who wants to save everyone?
Do you have a feeling of power when you think you are rescuing your partner?
Maybe you tend to feel superior, more intelligent or efficient when your partner is drinking. Make sure you are able to recognize any of these things and work to form a more healthy relationship.
It may not be easy but if you can take charge of your life and stop saving your alcoholic partner from ugly consequences you may be able to live a more positive life.
If you have a partner who is willing to seek help and stop drinking you have a chance at a healthy relationship.