Alcoholic man sitting in front of a computer

Taking Care of Yourself: How to Live With an Alcoholic

According to research, 86.3% of American adults reported they drank alcohol at least once in their lifetime. Of these, 14.1 million adults have an alcohol use disorder.  

Realizing your loved one is an alcoholic can feel jarring at first. In time, however, you could feel mentally and emotionally drained. Don’t let living with an alcoholic burn you out.

Instead, read this guide to discover how to take care of yourself while learning how to live with an alcoholic. With this guide, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come. 

Keep reading to discover the best practices for living with an alcoholic.

1. Recognize the Signs

When learning how to live with an alcoholic, you first need to confirm you are living with one. As mentioned above, 86.3% of American adults drink. However, not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic.

Here are a few signs to look out for that could indicate you’re living with an alcoholic:

  • They drink by themselves to hide their addiction
  • Your loved one becomes agitated if they don’t have alcohol
  • They’re losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Your loved one is experiencing employment, legal, or relationship issues
  • They store alcohol in unusual places

Your loved one might also begin to experience blackouts.

There are a few risk factors that can turn moderate drinkers into alcoholics, such as:

  • Binge drinking regularly
  • Drinking starting at a young age
  • A family history of alcohol abuse or related disorders
  • Mental illness
  • Having close friends who drink a lot
  • Drinking while on certain medications

In time, alcoholism can hurt your relationship with your loved one. While they may appear kind and caring while they’re sober, alcohol can turn them into entirely different people. In some cases, this can lead to emotional or physical abuse. 

You, your children, or other loved ones are at a higher risk of witnessing or becoming victims of a violent crime.

Learning how to live with an alcoholic can help you notice the signs of alcoholism before it escalates.

2. Don’t Blame Yourself

If you’re living with an alcoholic, you can’t blame yourself for their behavior. Instead, make sure to remain kind to yourself.

You’re likely experiencing anger and resentment after years of broken promises and disappointment. This is normal. However, it’s important to focus on the future. 

Make sure your family is physically and emotionally safe while you’re living with an alcoholic. After that, consider seeking group therapy or private counseling. This support will give you a safe place to heal and find encouragement from others.

Many alcoholics blame their drinking or circumstances on their loved ones. Don’t believe it. Their alcoholism isn’t your fault.

Instead of taking it personally or blaming yourself, try to learn more about alcoholism.

For example, alcoholism changes a person’s brain chemistry. As a result, they’ll begin to make changes they normally wouldn’t. They often aren’t in control of their own decision-making.

Understanding the situation can help you further learn how to live with an alcoholic without blaming yourself for what’s happening.

3. Set Boundaries

When living with an alcoholic, some people have a difficult time knowing whether or not to stay in their relationship. It’s up to you to make this decision. However, setting boundaries and knowing not to enable the situation can help. 

First, make sure you’re physically safe. Don’t tolerate abuse, whether it’s emotional or physical. If your loved one becomes violent when intoxicated, either you should leave, or they should. 

Next, make sure you don’t enable their drinking. Trying to keep them “happy” when alcohol makes them angry won’t work.

Instead, focus on getting them well. Don’t cater to their wants by ignoring the issue or purchasing alcohol for them.

Rather, it’s important to set healthy boundaries. Don’t let your loved ones place the blame for their actions on you. If they do, determine how you can shut down this behavior.

For example, you might decide to leave the house to avoid confrontation.

In other cases, you might have a friend on-call who can take your loved one to a safe place. There, they can sleep the alcohol off.

Determine what strategy works best for you, then remain consistent. 

4. Approach With Care

According to the CDC, six people die every day from alcohol poisoning. When learning how to live with an alcoholic, you also need to determine when to confront the problem. Otherwise, it could escalate to the point of death.

You could experience further emotional and/or physical harm as well. 

Choose a time when your loved one is sober. Avoid threatening them. Instead, focus the conversation on your feelings and your concerns. 

Try to maintain a tone that is compassionate and non-judgemental. 

Chances are, your loved one will try to avoid talking about the problem. They’ll likely make excuses. They might even focus the conversation on your flaws.

Try to remain calm. It’ll likely take time for what you’re saying to take root. 

5. Consider an Intervention

Sometimes, an intervention is necessary. This can help give your loved one the push they need to finally seek help. 

If you’re planning on hosting an intervention, make sure to have your loved one’s bag packed. Have a treatment center in mind as well. This way, your loved one is less likely to change their mind after agreeing to go. 

During the intervention, make sure to remain concise with your statements.

Don’t lecture your loved one. Prepare yourself to answer any questions to ease your loved one’s worries. Chances are, they’ll feel a little apprehensive about their addiction treatment.

Preparing yourself to answer their questions can help you keep them calm.

If they’re unwilling to go, don’t force it. Instead, try again after your loved one has the chance to think it over. 

Take Care of Yourself by Knowing How to Live With an Alcoholic

Learning how to live with an alcoholic can feel like a stressful process. With this guide and help from professionals, you can ensure your loved one gets the help they need. At the same time, you can take care of yourself as well throughout this process.

Need help for your loved one? Contact us today to get started.

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