Living With An Alcoholic
It really doesn't matter if we're the child, spouse or parent of an alcoholic; the abuse, pain, self-doubt and fear are severe and frequent. We spend a lot of compassionate effort trying to help alcoholics recover, but very little on the loved ones, some of whom may be scarred for life. If you have a loved one who is an alcoholic, this article is for you. If you're addicted to alcohol and have loved ones trying to help you, please consider this article a wake-up call. Here are some of the latest Addiction Recovery books to help you cope.
Secrets And Lies: Alcohol addicts need to be woken up because the biggest lie they tell is to themselves, "I don't have a problem." As much as you love the alcoholic in your family, that lie is what makes it easy to lie to you. My father would say he'll be at my game, my play, my graduation...usually lies. When he didn't arrive, it was always because he was tired. Funny how tired you can get after a few drinks...or before a few. He did the best he could, given his addictions, so, I'm not whining...Just letting you know I know what you're going through. Some alcoholics claim to not drink and have hours of secret time away from home, all with convenient lies to hide what's really happening. Of course, the truth can't help but be revealed when they overindulge and stumble into the house, get in an accident or get arrested. Sadly, most of the time, these incidents are only followed by more lies, this time about quitting or cutting back. Funny, how easy it is to believe the lies just one more time.
Coping-Not Codependence: One of the sad things about being codependent to an alcoholic is how easy it is to believe their lies. Our love for them overshadows the obvious truth...and we begin to live in denial just like the one we love. We become addicted to the neediness of our alcoholic loved one. Instead, we need to learn to cope with them rather than enable them. No, we won't believe their words...only their actions. We will protect the rest of the family from them but we won't enable them by excusing or supporting them in any way as long as they continue in their addiction. Coping with an alcoholic means being tough and confronting them. It means setting clear boundaries and not changing them just because the addict makes a fuss. It means letting them live in the consequences of their actions...even if they lose their job or freedom due to a jail sentence. Calling in to work, making excuses, bailing them out of jail actually helps them continue in their addiction. You don't love an alcoholic by holding them up. Loving them means letting them hit the ground until they learn to hate falling more than they love drinking.
The Only Love Of An Addict: When we give in to the manipulation and the alcoholic rewards us with words of admiration and love, it's just another lie. The words seem sincere because they are spoken to you, but the words of love about the bottle, and no one else. Alcoholics hate themselves and are incapable of loving anyone...not their kids, their spouse, their parents...they are all pawns to be used to get that next drink. Drinking isn't an alcoholic's first love, it's the only love. Until that bond is broken, no one else will be allowed in.
Recovery Or Rejection: This article may seem as though I think it impossible for an alcoholic to recover. It may surprise you to know I'm a recovered alcoholic. I didn't get to recovery because people excused me. It was only after I realized I had become my Dad, with his drunkenness, violence and lies...only when I saw that I would get this addiction under control or lose my wife, my career and everything. That was bottom for me...what brought me to find help and get this addiction behind me. I was lucky and I had help from God and others around me...not help to get drunk, but help to live sober. Unfortunately, if nothing else works for your alcoholic, sometimes they need to know there are only two choices...begin recovery or be rejected. A drug addict I knew was squatting in an abandoned house with her 3 small children and her supplier boyfriend, with no furniture, piles of uncontained trash and food scraps next to the uncovered mattresses and piles of unwashed, filthy clothes. I can't begin to describe the smell. She had to have her three children taken away from her before she would enter rehab and get clean. The last time I saw her, she was healthy, well-dressed, employed and had her children back with her. The greatest act of love toward this woman came from a government agency by taking her children.
If your alcoholic won't quit, as hard as it is, the greatest act of love you can offer is to withhold your support, your help, yourself and your love from them. This is their best chance for recovery. If the addict won't quit even then, the choice was made by the addict...and by you. This was your last and greatest act of love...to give them up in hopes they would give up the bottle.
Living With An Alcoholic is never easy, coping with secrets and lies and being manipulated for that next drink. If the bottle turns out to be their one true love, often, the only option is to leave them and salvage your life. Hopefully, with your firm boundaries, a little luck and a lot of God's help, your alcoholic will give it up and live in recovery, proving you're their one true love and eventually learning to love even themselves.