You may have been with your partner for months or years before you realized they were an alcoholic. Sometimes, you fall in love with someone already knowing their an alcoholic. Loving an alcoholic is a hard path to walk that has many co-dependent side issues that walk hand-in-hand with you. 

There are things you need to know if you love an alcoholic. You may already think you know all there is to know about living with an alcoholic. You may think you’ve read everything there is to read about loving an alcoholic.

The information below provides more in-depth details on alcohol and relationships. Co-depending is the chain that binds you both. Learning how to free yourself from the chain is the only healthy way forward for both of you.

Alcohol and Relationships

You’ve read all the alcoholic relationship headlines and talked about it with countless friends. You know you’re in a relationship with an alcoholic, but you’re unsure what you need to do next. It’s important to know you’re not alone.

There are over thirty million adults in the U.S. who have abused alcohol or been alcoholics in their lifetime. Most of the thirty million people were in relationships with someone. How do alcohol and relationships mix, and what do you do if it happens to you?

Most people know that relationships and alcoholism don’t mix. When you’re in love with an alcoholic, you feel the effects every day, whether you’re aware of it or not. There are usually some common signs you can look for to determine the silent price your paying by loving an alcoholic.

Loving an Alcoholic

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cause harm to partnerships, relationships, and families. Alcohol abuse causes harm to everyone that loves an alcoholic. 60-70 percent of intimate partners who experience domestic violence involve alcohol abuse. 

There are signs you can look for that are common and obvious when you are trying to figure out if your partner’s alcohol abuse is harming you and the relationship. The signs include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Having a lot of arguments about their alcohol abuse and the toll, it’s taking on your time, effort and finances
  • Your partner can’t keep up with their responsibilities, so you start covering for them or making excuses for them
  • Your partner tells you they drink only to handle their job, or the stress in their life which leads to both of you arguing
  • You are experiencing domestic violence or what’s called, angry touching when your partner has been drinking a lot
  • You notice you and your partner are isolating yourselves from family members, friends, and social events
  • You and your partner can’t be affectionate or intimate without alcohol being a part of the equation

By the time any of the above is happening, you need to seek help from a treatment center for you and your partner. Mental health treatment is tied to substance abuse recovery, and a reputable and knowledgeable treatment facility is a good place to start.

Treatment Options for Those in a Relationship with Alcoholics

One of the biggest issues for partners who love an alcoholic is being called an enabler. It’s hard to hear you’re an enabler, and it’s hard to change, enabling behavior if it’s true. Since you’re not the alcoholic it can be surprising to find out you need counseling as much as the alcoholic.

But there’s something empowering about learning how to change yourself so you can change the current tempo and course of your relationship interactions. There are support groups you can join that will teach you about emotionally protecting yourself. The support groups will also provide educational information on how to become free of codependent relationships.

There are some common enabling behaviors you need to be aware of and stop doing when you’re in love with an alcoholic.

#1 Blaming Yourself for Your Partner’s Abuse of Alcohol 

Many times alcoholics will tell you that you’re the reason they drink. It’s not true, and it’s never been true. The alcoholic is going to drink whether you’re there or in a relationship with them or not.

#2 Broken Promises Aren’t Your Fault

Your partner may have told you one hundred times they’re going to quit and then gone back to drinking the next day, week, or month. Many times you take it personally because you think they lied to you on purpose. But alcoholism is a disorder and with it come physiological dependency and brain chemistry that’s altered by alcohol abuse.

The alcoholic, in almost all cases, needs the help of a treatment center for withdrawal and learning how to live their life without alcohol.

#3 Controlling the Alcoholic

It’s very common for those who love alcoholics to think they can control their loved one and get them to stop drinking. There’s truly nothing you can do to stop your loved one from being an alcoholic. Only the alcoholic can control if they will or won’t drink, and many times they’ll need mental health specialists as well as substance abuse counselors to help them get through the levels of addiction.

In truth, there’s nothing you should do, because this isn’t your path, it’s your partner’s. 

The Way Forward 

Loving an alcoholic requires you seek treatment whether or not your alcoholic partner gets help or not. Al-Anon was created for this very reason. Because there’s nothing easy about loving an alcoholic. 

The one thing you don’t want to do is enable your partner in their abuse of alcohol. It’s very hard to say no to someone you love when they ask you to cover for them or help them. The one thing you can tell yourself when you’re saying no to them is that by doing do, your partner how has the opportunity to move forward and seek their own mental health and substance abuse treatment.

But whether they do or not isn’t something you caused or decided. It’s their disorder and they have to be the one who wants to move forward in life without abusing alcohol. Letting natural consequences happen to your alcoholic partner isn’t you being mean or unkind. 

Reach out to Healthy Life Recovery when you’re ready to give your partner a chance to deal with their alcoholism while you learn how to be protective of yourself. You can’t cure your partner of alcoholism. But you can learn to empower yourself with tools that help you become stronger, bolder, and ready to live your life and not theirs.

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