Addictions do not discriminate in gender, age, social class, race or religion. It can happen to anyone! The effects on any relationship can be profound. Today, more than ever we are seeing dual addictions of alcohol and drugs. A dangerous, often lethal mix of two mind altering substances. |
My focus in this discussion is on alcoholism, but the behaviour will be similar in a drug user or gambler! Do you live with or love someone who drinks too much?
It would be unfair to "label" this person alcoholic as alcoholism is a self diagnostic disease, but what is it like for you? Have you become unreasonable in your attitude? Have you learned to hate the drinking? Do you react badly? Do you monitor or check up on the drinker? Do you count their drinks? Do you cover up or make excuses for the drinker? Do you feel unhappy?
Living with or loving a drinker can be incredibly difficult. Do you feel so consumed by the drinker you have lost a part of yourself? Do you lay blame or guilt on the drinker in an attempt to get them to stop drinking? Do you wake up in the morning feeling angry or anxious about your day ahead? Do you believe that if the drinker loves you the way they say they do, then they would stop drinking or at the very least, be able to control their drinking? How many broken promises have you experienced? Try to understand that while they really do love you, they are troubled by addiction.
The drinker may at times slow down on the drinking, they may make promises of change but this only lasts for a little while. It isn't long before they are back drinking heavily again and behaving as usual. It becomes a "cycle" and.....the cycle continues! Many partners of drinkers believe they detach from the drinker but their anger is never usually dealt with. Many partners remain resentful, unhappy and bitter for many years. Many partners just want relief from the pain associated with living with a drinker.
I am aware that this experience is incredibly painful. To stand by and watch someone you love "self destruct" and to feel like you are sinking into the very same black hole that the drinker is. A sense of hopelessness and a loss of trust occurs in the relationship.
Is there a history of alcoholism in your partner's family, a parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent? Were you aware that your partner drank too much at the beginning of your relationship? Did you believe that once you were together the drinker's behaviour would change? Did this happen?
Whether you choose to stay with the drinker or whether you leave, it is possible to improve your own life. How? Firstly, try to separate the disease or behaviour from the person. When this person is not drinking, are they a good person, someone you love being with?
Secondly, take the focus off them and place the focus on yourself. No amount of controlling, complaining, or threats will make the drinker stop. Guilt will only make them drink more! Step back, stop reacting, and detach in a caring way. They will never get well if we continue to prop them or rescue them. A little "tough love" is required.
Try to manage each day, a day at a time. If you can stop reacting you will in turn feel better about yourself and in more control of your own emotions. This is incredibly difficult to do but necessary!
Try to stop covering for them or propping them. This does not mean you stop loving them or caring about them! It simply means you stop taking responsibility for their addiction. This will take some courage but I know if you have been living with a drinker for some time you possess amazing strength and courage.
Watch out for your own expectations of them. Try not to set yourself up for continued disappointment. Try not to look for emotional support from the drinker because while they are drinking they may not be able to give that to you.
You too need to recover! Self empowerment, self love and self care are all an important part of your own healing. If you intend to take the focus off the drinker, pull back slowly and lovingly.
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