Living with an alcoholic, someone who has AUD, also known as alcoholism, for some time gets you accustomed to extreme moods. You love and cherish the person immensely. However, you can’t stand to tolerate their troubling behavior. You’ve attempted almost everything you can think of to help with their drinking problem, from throwing out their collection of drinks to threats of leaving them to bribery. Nothing seems to be working. However, as time goes by, you understand that it is their duty to pursue assistance and be difficult to assist them without their involvement.
“Sure, it is good when it is good, but bad when it is bad…”
So what should you do? Do can you stay in the relationship, even when you feel knackered and frustrated? How can you help your loved ones regain their life and stop being a shadow of their former self?
The first thing you can do if you are living with an alcoholic is to remind yourself of this; none of it is due to any fault of yours, and neither is it theirs. Alcoholism can be the result of several factors which include; the person’s genetic make-up, environment, and emotional/mental health. To recover from it, some level of medical help is often needed.
Meaning of Alcohol Use Disorders
Alcoholism isn’t synonymous with having and enjoying one bottle of beer. Alcoholism is also known as AUD which is “a long-lasting recurrent brain illness defined by obsessive alcohol consumption, lack of self-discipline over its consumption, and an unfriendly emotional frame of being when not consuming it.” Although alcohol might be harmless when consumed in moderation, people with AUD sometimes surpass the recommended weekly limit of 7 drinks for women and 14 drinks for men.
Normal-functioning alcoholics sometimes consume alcohol from the glaring eyes of their colleagues and family’. But it’s almost undoable to keep it a secret from people who stay in the same household with them.
It should also be noted that since only about 1 in 10 addicts seek assistance for this condition, many families languish in grief and sadness over the actions of their loved ones
People Affected by AUD?
According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, it is calculated that AUD affects about 17 million people living with an alcoholic in the USA alone. An updated study increases the number to 30 million. With either data, it is evident that a large percentage of the community struggles with AUD and its attendant effects.
AUD sufferers usually face many health issues throughout their lives that can range from digestion problems to some problems reproductive to hypertension and even stroke. Alcohol abuse is the third among the foremost causes of avoidable deaths in the United states. Every year, an estimated average of 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes. Also, approximately 37,000 people in 2015 died due to alcohol-associated liver illnesses.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is also deadly, the aftermath of excessive drinking. In 2015, deaths from drunk driving were 10,265 precisely. This equates to one death per51 minutes that year.8
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How Do You Know if Your Partner or Loved One is An Alcoholic?
Individuals living with an alcoholic and AUD frequently endure constant longings anytime they stay away from alcohol, also a difficult task trying to quit once they’ve started consuming alcohol. Over time, they build up suffering to alcohol, meaning they have to drink more significant amounts to attain the same inebriated state.
Asides from the signs above, AUD sufferers also engage in the following:
- Drink in the absence of others to cover-up their dependency
- Experience occasional moments of blackouts
- Drinking at a set moment and becoming irritable when they can’t have access to alcohol
- Keep alcohol in unsuspecting locations, like their cars or in the office
- Drinking with the sole aim of getting wasted
- Endure relationship, work, or legal problems
- Undergo a foregoing of fascination in events they once took pleasure in 9
Even though alcoholism is mostly associated with an individual’s genetic make-up, some of these factors can also make moderate drinkers become alcoholics. They include:
- Engaging in a drinking spree regularly
- Consuming alcohol at the start of an early age
- A family history showing alcohol abuse
- Mental diseases
- Social factors include being around people who drink excessively
- Consuming alcohol with medications that can increase its potency 10
Can AUD Harm Your Relationship?
Most times, your loved one or partner can be a nice, understanding individual when they’re calm and sober; drinking can change them into an entirely different person and different personality. Sadly, domestic abuse in various forms can accompany a persons’ inebriated persona.
This means people living with an alcoholic, partners of alcoholics, and their kids are at an increased risk of seeing or being the victims of violent crimes, such as battery and assault. Suppose your partner isn’t abusive in any way when drunk. In that case, they might be dangerous in your relationship through different means, like using up their spare time at pubs, often absconding from work, or exceeding the limit on credit cards.
Either managing with domestic abuse, lash-outs, or other abusive circumstances present in the relationship, the developing stress can become intolerable for the non-alcoholic spouse.
Consequences of AUD’s for Family and Friends
It seems to be easier for people living with an alcoholic, friends, and family to deny the existence of AUD in someone and hope that things return to the way they were. Still, this approach would only make the situation worse off; rather, friends and family members should be aware of the change in habits or behavior of alcoholics. Observing this would help in handling the situation, and these habits include;
when Living with an alcoholic you should know that Alcoholics tend to lie a lot even if they were honest before their alcoholism; their addiction could affect their behavior.
Alcoholics tend to wander into trouble because of their addiction. This behavior typically manifests as financial turmoil, absence from work, being physically aggressive with people, domestic abuse, and even criminal activities. This under-functioning then puts a further strain on people Living with an alcoholic or their partner to pick up the slack.
When living with an alcoholic as their spouse or caregiver, it is easy to blame yourself for their condition.
- Stress, Anxiety, and Fear
Alcoholics can spiral out of control and become angry, dishonest, and unpredictable, thereby promoting an extremely high level of tension in the home that translates to increased stress, anxiety, or even fear for people living with an alcoholic.
Effects of AUD’s on Kids
Research has shown that an estimated 11 million kids below 18 would have one parent who suffers from AUD. Though it has been established that children born to alcoholics or living with an alcoholic develop an increased genetic risk for acquiring the illness themselves, most would also grow to face some extreme psychoemotional results of their childhood, such as issues of trust and forming close bonds.
Kids Living with an alcoholic might also encounter some difficulties at some point in their life like:
- a lack of ability to shape close bonds
- A need for regular signs of acceptance
- Hating and extreme self-judgment
- Telling lies with no justification or reason to
- Impulsive and erratic behavior without consideration of the repercussion
Care of Your Family and Yourself
Eventually, it is impossible to put the blame for the behavior of your loved one on yourself or on anyone living with an alcoholic. Be nice to yourself, that’s the least you can do. Let go of all the hatred accrued over the years of a letdown and unfulfilled vows. An important agenda to accomplish is to ensure the safety of your loved ones from the AUD sufferer.
Once this has successfully occurred, plans can be made to seek the support of a counseling and group therapist (such as Al-Anon). It would help if you have a secure environment to recuperate and heal.
If minors are around, make sure there is someone wise around them to trust, a therapist or close friend. Since one of their parents is unable to meet up with their emotional requirements, it’s important the person that wishes to listen to them can do so without prejudice. It is also advisable to make out time for entertaining and enjoyable activities. the family does not need to suspend their daily activities because of the inability of a member to participate.
Setting Boundaries vs. Enabling
You could be having a difficult time making up your mind, trying to decide if to remain in the relationship because you are in love with your partner, or deciding that you have had enough of the toxic cycles. Oftentimes, people living with an alcoholic such as friends and family members are too intimate with our situation to provide the best logical advice. Their instincts easily fall in line with wanting to protect but you need to realize that you are the best person to make a decision because it affects your life. A third party observer usually in the form of a counselor can objectively guide you through your thought process and feelings, You should also follow these steps to help out;
- Accessing a Risky Situation
If you are living with an alcoholic as a partner in the same house, it is best to ensure the environment is safe for everyone involved. Abuse in any form shouldn’t be condoned and should be avoided at all costs. If a loved one becomes abusive when drunk, one of you should leave the environment. It would be hard to separate, but it is often best to leave till they decide to get treatment.
- Don’t Be An Enabler
Attempting to make your partner be in a false state of happiness through alcohol tends to backfire. You want a sober and happy partner, not a drunk and calm partner. Love is not similar to enabling, and purchasing alcohol for them is not a sign of love but rather an enabling behavior. Try to note the difference.
- Define Boundaries
Don’t let your partner suffering from addiction blame you. They are responsible for their actions. Find out how to prevent this attitude before occurrence. Again, you may need to leave your home to prevent fights, or you could have a loved one on speed-dial to get your partner to a secure space to “sleep it off.” Discover what helps, and be persistent with it.
Approaching A Confrontation
Once the time approaches to accost your loved one about their drinking, the time is key. Choose a period where they appear calm and sober, also try to avoid threats at all costs. Stir the discussion to focus on your emotions and state your reservations. State them in a pitch that comes off as compassionate and free of any judgment.
Some persons with AUD may attempt to move the conversation away from their ailment. They may also attempt to make excuses for their actions or even begin to highlight your flaws so their drinking pales in comparison. Be ready for this move and remain calm. The act of denial always comes before the decision to accept treatment and then recovery.
Planning an Intervention
Laying siege on your loved one with intervention may seem extreme especially if you’re living with an alc, but it may be that action that would push them to seek out the care they need. sound rigid, it might also be the “strength” to choose to find help finally. When planning for an intervention, it’s often best to make sure the individual’s luggage is arranged and a rehabilitation center had in mind. Doing this would decrease the chances of changing their minds after accepting to go for help.
During an intercession, let your statements be concise and avoid preaching. You should be ready to reply to questions that may allay the fears of your partner concerning the recovery process. If your partner adamantly refuses treatment, let them be. Avoid forcing treatment at all costs as they work when a person wants to of on their own accord. In time, another attempt can be made.
Treatment of AUD
As soon as your partner gets to the treatment facility, they would be admitted, reviewed by healthcare personnel, and then start detox. In certain situations, the patient will leave after detox and continue their therapy on an out-patient basis, while some choose to remain for in-patient care. Choosing is based on the patients’ needs.
Inpatient Care of AUD
Inpatient treatment normally takes four weeks, it is conducted in an alcohol-free setting. For people who have failed previous outpatient treatment options, this form of rehabilitation tends to be more reliable. This method of therapy removes potential causes that could lead to a person’s need for alcohol. It should be noted that approximately 95% of AUD patients experience mild or moderate withdrawal symptoms. As a result, medication-assisted therapy can be a reasonable alternative for reducing painful withdrawal symptoms. During care, the doctor and individual will discuss this.
The Choice of Outpatient Care
Outpatient services will provide your spouse or family with similar care and counseling approaches. The key difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is that outpatient care are less regulated and happens less regularly. Participants in this form of treatment have the ability to continue to accomplish their responsibilities in life, such as working and taking care of their children. Outpatient counseling also includes participation in support groups or community therapy criteria, such as attending a 12-course meeting.
It’s usually best to seek advice from a licensed therapist when determining which treatment choice is best for your family or friend. They will help your loved one check each treatment option’s advantages and disadvantages.
Both inpatient and outpatient detox patients have legitimate questions about staying sober and safe following treatment. It is recommended that you receive ongoing assistance from various sources, including religious organizations, support groups, and treatment center follow-ups. Relapse is what any living with an alcoholic can expect and prepare for; alcohol relapse rates vary from forty to sixty percent. When this happens, it’s important to remember that your spouse or family member hasn’t failed. Continue to move on with their sobriety using the skills learned in therapy.
What a Family or Friend Should Expect
You do not influence your spouse’s or special one’s actions. This is the most critical consideration to bear in mind at all times. You must stand by them if they decide that care is essential and appropriate for their long-term recovery. When they’ve received therapy, you can try to keep them going in the right direction and away from alcohol to avoid a relapse. Accept it and don’t think of it as a misstep on your part; instead, strive to change the relationship’s emphasis on establishing healthy barriers for you and your loved one. Live in the moment and be the better representation of yourself that you can, and then they will be inspired to follow your steps if they see you doing so.
Things To Note While Living With A Recovering Alcoholic
Following their recovery, if you are living with a recovering alcoholic you should know they require family and friends’ support. The support and help offered can be unconditional support towards them. They may include including abstaining from drinking yourself as a means to avoid triggering a relapse into alcoholism.
It’s also essential to ask your loved one for any specific kind of help they might require from you.
You might also need to offer extra support during celebratory events where alcohol is served to guests. Doing this could help reduce their chances of a relapse.
Despite all your support, you still should be prepared if your loved one does have a relapse. It would be best to understand that recovery is a journey and not a sprint. Your loved one might not necessarily recover on the first try.
Living with an alcoholic, one has to realize that they are not the cause of the sufferer’s addiction; hence they cannot fix it independently.
While their loved ones would require help through their addiction, it is important for family members also to realize that they also require a support system. They also have to keep themselves safe and healthy as living with an alcoholic can take its toll.
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Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. He is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.