A recent study shows that on average, 80,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths every year in the United States. This likely means that either you or someone you know struggles with this difficult addiction. Alcoholism not only affects your physical body by destroying your liver, skin, and other major organs, but it takes a toll on your entire lifestyle. It can ruin relationships, lead to financial hardship, and leaves some individuals homeless. But alcoholism doesn’t stop at ruining the life of the addict. Those loved ones in the addicts life also struggle to cope and manage this disease. What do you say? What can you do to help them? Are you enabling them? So many questions and unknowns. Here is a list of 4 ways that you can positively support an alcoholic in your life.
- Put Yourself First
This may sound selfish but it’s not. You need to protect yourself against the alcoholic in your life before you can help them. This can be difficult for many people, especially if the alcoholic is someone very close to them like a parent, spouse, or child. It’s completely normal for both you and the alcoholic in your life to feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, and defensive. The first step in addressing the problem is to identify it. The alcoholic in your life will likely deny they have a problem. They might start lying, stealing, or making you feel guilty. It’s important to create boundaries between the reality and the lies the alcoholic is trying to project onto you. Try to stay focused and understand that a big part of alcoholism is manipulation. Don’t let them get into your head or change your mind about what you know is true. Here are a few more signs of alcoholism to look out for.
- Recognize the Difference Between Supporting and Enabling
There is a big difference between supporting your loved one who is struggling with alcoholism and enabling them. But often times, these lines are blurred for loved ones. Supporting them comes in the form of offering to take them to AA meetings, finding a support group, engaging in activities that don’t involve drinking, or listening to them talk. Enabling is driving them to the liquor store, lending them money when you know it’s going to booze, or letting them stay in your home without contributing. Any behavior that makes it easy for the alcoholic to continue on their destructive path and doesn’t require change or progress is enabling.
- Remain Calm and Patient
This can be very difficult, especially when there are so many emotions involved in dealing with an alcoholic you love. You may feel like screaming, yelling, or crying out of frustration. This is a totally natural reaction, especially because it’s difficult to get through to an alcoholic who doesn’t want help. But it’s important you remain calm and patient when possible. This is for the benefit of not just the alcoholic but yourself. It’s about self-preservation. You can’t allow yourself to get emotionally and physically upset every time the alcoholic in your life does something upsetting. Don’t allow their poor choices to impact your own mental state. They may be ruining their lives but they don’t need to bring you down with them. Yelling doesn’t achieve anything either. You won’t get through to them by raising your voice. In fact, they might even pull away further.
- Don’t Talk Down to the Alcoholic
Alcoholism is just something your loved one is dealing with. It isn’t who they are. Don’t forget the person you know and love is beneath their addiction. This means don’t talk down to the alcoholic. You’re not better or smarter than the alcoholic in your life so don’t project yourself that way. All that will do is make them feel even worse about themselves and may push them to drink more. Instead, build them up. Remind them of the things they used to enjoy doing. Did they have a great job, good friends, or an amazing talent? Talk about these things in a motivational way. You may inspire your loved one to change.
Alcoholism is a scary and tragic disease that affects more people than you may realize. Don’t try to handle this fight alone. And don’t let the alcoholic in your life bring you down. There are ways to show your loved one support and compassion without enabling their destructive behavior. And remember, you aren’t in this fight alone.
Article Submitted By Community Writer