Dealing with alcoholism is never easy, whether it’s your own drinking program or somebody you love that is having a hard time with alcohol. If somebody that you care about, or somebody that you’re responsible for, is having problems with alcohol, here are some things you should avoid doing because these things probably won’t help, and they can actually make it even harder for your loved one to get the real help they need. It’s difficult, sometimes, to knowledge that you could be doing more harm than good, especially when you have the absolute best of intentions, but a big part of helping somebody who is dealing with alcoholism is by making sure that you’re informed and able to provide the type of support that they need, not the type of support that you feel like giving them.
Don’t Take It Personally
Not only are you setting yourself up for even more disappointment and heartbreak if you’re taking it as a personal attack when someone you care about drinks.
They’re an alcoholic and if they’re going to drink, they’re going to drink. That doesn’t mean they can’t stop drinking, they absolutely can get treatment and help for their alcoholism, but if they do drink or relapse, you can’t blame yourself.
Sometimes, an alcohol will try to blame their drinking on somebody else. This, too, is unacceptable. It’s not your fault they drink. That said, you can take steps to better understand their alcoholism and what they’re dealing with (Like you’re doing right now) and that’s perfect. We’re glad you’re here.
If your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend drinks too much, it’s not a personal attack on you, even if you’ve been asking them to stop. Even if they’ve promised they’ll stop. It’s bad to break a promise, but it’s not about you – it’s about their alcoholism and how powerful it is.
Don’t Try To Be a Superhero To Someone Dealing With Alcoholism
Unless you’re trained and qualified in addiction and recovery, you aren’t cut out for the job of saving them – sorry to say it – but it’s true.
Imagine if you had no experience as an electrician, but you decided to try to wire your own home or to replace your circuit box.
That probably wouldn’t go great, right? What if someone you loved needed surgery, and you were told that somebody who wasn’t a surgeon was going to be performing the operation?
The point is that you probably have many skills and things that you’re great at, but if you aren’t trained in recovery, then you aren’t the best person to help someone who is dealing with alcoholism.
Don’t Cover For Them
There’s a difference between having a bit too much to drink on rare occasion or being an alcoholic. If someone is an alcohol, you really aren’t helping them if you cover for them or enable them.
Helping them hide their drinking from other people or taking huge strides to help them avoid any consequences can further entrench them in the problem.
If they’re having money problems due to drinking, lending them money for rent or other bills can seem like you’re helping in the moment, but it’s really just prolonging and postponing the inevitable, and the longer it takes for them to hit the point where they know they need to get help, the harder it will be for them to quit.
Don’t Let Them Walk All Over You
Some people can be very manipulative and alcoholics are no exception.
Certain behavior is simply unacceptable. Nobody has the right to be abusive towards you, regardless of whether or not they have a certain disease called alcoholism. Struggling with alcohol is tough, it can take a lot out of someone, and it can make it hard for them to be themselves. They may do things they aren’t proud of, or treat people in a way that they regret, but there’s never an excuse for this.
If the alcoholic in your life is being abusive, you don’t need to stand for that. You can step away. Even if it means they’ll lose their support, it’s not your responsibility to baby them or to make huge personal sacrifices in your own life.
Dating a functional alcoholic is no walk in the park, but even if you’ve committed to them, you don’t have to commit to dealing with their alcoholism for the erst of your life. If they aren’t seeking help, or aren’t taking the steps they need to, that isn’t your fault. There’s only so much that you can do.
Don’t Forget These Healing Statements about Alcoholism
Here are some healing statements inspired by VeryWellMind.com:
- I no longer have to deny the presence of alcoholism in my family.
- I no longer have to control an alcoholic’s drinking.
- I no longer have to rescue the alcoholic or bail them out of trouble.
- I no longer have to listen to the alcoholic’s reasons for drinking.
- I no longer have to accept promises just to be let down.
- I no longer have to worry about dealing with their alcoholism.
Dealing With Alcoholism Is HARD!
It’s hard for the alcoholic themselves, and it’s hard for the people around them.
Dealing with alcoholism is never easy, but if you’re able to step back while also helping guide them towards the right kind of help from a professional, and offering support when they’re ready to accept it but also protecting yourself when they aren’t ready, then you’re putting everyone in the best position for success.