From the outside looking in, close friends and family members readily share opinions and judgments when a person is dealing with a loved one who has an addiction like alcoholism.
Most often, the top piece of advice is to walk away and leave them with the judgment that they’ll never stop and you’re better off.
Love doesn’t work like that.
It can be a dark, often depressing, and lonely world when you love someone who drinks too much. It’s sort of like a roller coaster ride that won’t end when you’re ready to get off. One minute you’re having a blast full of hope, joy, laughter, and the next scared, resentful and angry.
But you can’t stay mad because all you see is a good person suffering from an addiction, someone who needs help but also an individual who is making life and marriage hard.
It doesn’t have to be a call to walk away or seek a divorce. Many couples battle the depths of addiction together, but it takes intense hard work on each person’s part.
The thing to remember is you can’t act like it doesn’t exist. Hiding is what the addict tends to do. Marriage problems especially won’t be resolved by ignoring them. You just have to avoid being sucked into the disease and strive instead to help your affected mate and ensure they want to help themself.
Let’s look at steps intended for you and your partner to work together to fight alcoholism.
What to do with someone who won’t stop drinking?
In alcoholism, like most addictions, the addict tries to act like they have it under control; it’s not a problem, or they hide it from those around them. The only person they can’t hide it from is their spouse, for whom life can become quite difficult as the addiction progresses out of control.
One moment you have the jubilant, happy-go-lucky, articulate man you fell in love with, conversational and buoyant. The next time you turn around, there’s someone you don’t recognize, unable to form a sentence, irrational, and solemn.
Each day is the same as the last, only the person you fell in love with is slowly fading away more and more as time goes by, leaving you with the unfamiliar man you prefer not to know.
The sad thing is you know the good person is in there consumed by the addiction; you just don’t know how to break him free. That’s where the hard work, effort, and his “want-to” have to come in.
If he doesn’t desire to get better or stop drinking, he simply won’t despite your efforts. That’s facts. There has to be a dramatic or traumatic occurrence that touches a man in some severe way to bring a desire for change in order for them to put the bottle down.
Let’s look at a few steps you can take to help yourself and, eventually, your spouse.
All too often, those close to the person suffering from alcoholism have a hard time admitting the problem, including the spouse. There is a lot of diminishing the issue and even finding justification for the behavior or turning a blind eye despite the proof being directly in front of the mate.
When you make excuses for someone saying they enjoy drinking a bit. But it’s not that bad or no big deal or searching for sympathy that they need to deal with a lot of stress, you’re, in fact, enabling their destructive behavior.
If that individual is consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day and those beverages create negative repercussions for the individual or you, there is likely an addiction.
In an effort to get along with their partner, the spouse of an addicted individual will at times alter their own behavior or go against what they know to be right by convincing themselves it’s for the addict’s protection or in an effort to help them.
Again, this is enabling behavior. In other words, you’re making the addiction easier for them. In some cases, spouses have gone so far as to:
- buy the alcohol,
- called off work with a lie for an excuse,
- lied to close friends and family to avoid embarrassment
- Provided bail
- Lied to authorities to avoid trouble
Enabling takes away the reason for the addict to have to seek help. It says to them what you’re doing is okay with me.
- Related: Why does a husband lie about money?
While running ragged, ensuring that your mate is okay, and clearing out the messes left behind from addictive bouts, there’s little time to focus on life circumstances and your self-care.
You might insist you’re acting the adequate spouse, but instead, you’ll ultimately hurt yourself and come to resent this person.
Regardless of the mess that surrounds alcoholism, your life needs to remain as normal as possible for your sake. You’re not the addict. You should not be consumed by addiction. It would help if you continued with:
- your extracurricular activities,
- enjoy your daily meals on time,
- enjoy your wellness program of fitness and a wholesome diet,
- visit close friends and family, seek healthcare for monitoring stress levels and learn stress-reducing measures, including meditation
Many people don’t understand that addiction is construed as a disease. The more you learn about what your partner suffers from, in this instance, alcoholism, the more effective you’ll be at fighting against its harm.
It’s vital to grasp the concept of disease relating to addictions like alcoholism.
When you can separate away from placing (quote) “shame and blame” (end quote), the resentment can begin to fade. You’ll no longer look to your mate for reasons for their moral ineptness, nor will you try to shoulder the responsibility.
Looking at it as a medical condition allows you to see it without fault with the ability to focus on the illness instead of concentrating on the individual. That allows the opportunity to establish healthy strategies for battling the condition.
Sources of treatment
A mate has to want to go into treatment. He has to want to stop drinking, as mentioned earlier. If there is no desire to quit, the spouse will not stop. Your request, demand, asking, begging, and ordering will not be effective.
Taking the alcohol from him will only result in him buying it and drinking it away from home or hiding it in the house where you can’t find it, sneaking it. You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.
Suppose something happens of a severe nature that affects an alcoholic dramatically or traumatically (consequences). In that case, it generally will make an impression on their addiction as well, sometimes leading to their slowing down or even stopping.
When an addict is ready to seek help, it’s vital to be there to support them. You can attend therapy meetings for spouses. Make sure to call, write, and visit as it’s allowed. Many rehab facilities put patients through what references as a brief “adjustment period.”
While enduring this time span, there is no contact with anyone outside the facility. As the spouse, you need to follow the rules so your mate can concentrate on getting well.
Ideally, you will have done substantial research to find an appropriate location ahead of time to meet your husband’s specific needs and fit your lifestyle.
Next step for helping him stop drinking & get into recovery
Most likely, now that your husband has gone into rehab, you’ve forgotten everything you used to do to take care of your own well-being. It’s vital not only for your wellness but to continue his progress upon his return home that you work towards becoming the healthy person you were before all of this began.
There were likely activities that you gave up, close friends that you lost connections with, maybe even family members you might have avoided to prevent embarrassment because of the situation.
These are relationships that you can work to repair. If you believe there will be judgments or unfair opinions, you don’t have to share intimate details of your personal struggles.
You can also get back into your varied interests and hobbies that might have been put on the back burner; perhaps something your husband can enjoy with you as soon as he recovers. The idea will be for him to find a renewed sense of normalcy.
Dealing with an addicted spouse, particularly with alcoholism, can make reality a nightmare. The saddest part is that it takes such a dramatic “consequence” in order to get the response you long for, that they will stop.
Sometimes by that point, there has been so much loss, damage, destruction, turmoil, making the sobriety almost bittersweet. You don’t want to be resentful, but at the same time, there’s a part of you that wants to know why it took such great lengths to fight.
One thing to remember, try not to confuse your strength with theirs. When you have an addictive tendency, there’s not much strength to go on in order to fight such a harsh battle. Your spouse really will rely on you for support and your strength.