July 23, 2007
Married to an Alcoholic: 7 Steps to Helping Them Get Sober
Are you married to an alcoholic? Is your husband/wife a different person when they drink? Are you tired of the Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde Behavior? Are you at your wits end and just can’t take it anymore? What can you do?
1. Stop trying to get your husband/wife to stop drinking.
No matter how much you nag and complain at them to stop drinking, it is not going to do a bit of good. What will is taking care of you. I know, it sounds backwards, but when you’re emotionally stressed out, it will be more difficult to help your loved one. You have no verbal power over the alcoholic. What you do have control over is your actions. What you do and say to the alcoholic will have a direct effect on whether or not they will continue drinking or not.
2. Detach with love.
Be loving and supportive of the person you married, not the alcoholic. Don’t take any of the emotional garbage they dish out while drinking. Have you noticed how when your spouse drinks they start to berate you and want to start arguments? Don’t argue or fight back. Let them know you will not argue with them while they are drinking, period.
Above all, never allow the alcoholic to trespass against your spirit when they are playing one of their mind games. Walk away and close the door behind you. Go visit a friend, take a walk around the block, or put some ear plugs in your ears. Your mental health is what helps the alcoholic the most. This is what detaching with love is all about. Detaching yourself from the disease is what helps the alcoholic see that he needs help.
3. Set boundaries
Did you know that the person who takes the verbal abuse of an alcoholic is sometimes just as mentally and emotionally sick as the alcoholic? This is why it is absolutely necessary, especially for spouses of alcoholics, to set boundaries for themselves while the alcoholic is drinking.
Don’t allow their roller coaster emotions to affect you. At least do not let them see that they are affecting you. The alcoholic wants to get a reaction out of you, don’t give them that satisfaction. When they are drinking, treat them like a stranger. Remember, you love the person you married, but you do not love the disease. Don’t be nice to the disease but love the person. Do you understand?
4. Do not enable the alcoholic
Don’t help the alcoholic by enabling their addictive behavior. Don’t help them to bed. Don’t let them drive while drinking. Do not let them argue, fuss or fight with you while they are drinking. Do not talk to them, leave the house or room and shut and lock the door behind you. Do not buy them alcohol, even if they beg you to. Don’t let them drive! Don’t treat them any differently because they have a drinking problem. Don’t give them any special attention while they are drinking.
5. Be supportive when they are sober
When the alcoholic in your life is sober, give them extra special attention. Tell them how much you love them, but not the disease. Talk to them about your new boundaries when they are sober. Write them on the refrigerator so they can’t say they forgot. Basically let them know all the bad and awful things they do to you and the rest of the family while they are drinking. They need to know.
6. Go to Alan-on
This is very important when you are living with an alcoholic. This is how you heal yourself from the abuses of the alcoholic. This is where you will meet friends who are going through the same things as you. You are not alone.
7. Pray everyday
Never relent in your silent appeals to God for your spouse’s sobriety. I cannot say enough how important it is to keep a well balanced mind, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually when living with an alcoholic. They can literally tear you apart. I encourage you to seek God for your comfort and encouragement during this difficult time in your life. God answers our incessant appeals for healing. He feels our suffering and pain. Please do not give up hope.