How to Live With an Alcoholic

What is Alcoholism? 

Drinking alcohol is very common. You may drink alcohol as a way to wind down from work or to socialize with friends or coworkers. Drinking alcohol becomes an issue when consuming it begins to negatively affect an individual’s life. When a person can no longer control the amount of alcohol that he or she is intaking, it’s considered alcohol abuse. People that abuse alcohol may develop an alcohol addiction. Once that happens, that person needs to attend alcohol addiction treatment. In the meantime, learn how to live with an alcoholic right here. Also, learn about confronting an alcoholic.

Alcoholism is a more severe form of alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is another term for alcohol use disorder (AUD).  Individuals suffering from AUDs often feel like they cannot function normally without alcohol. They are dependent on alcohol. 

Signs and Symptoms of People with AUDs

An AUD is a chronic, but treatable, condition. If left untreated any type of alcohol abuse can get out of control though. 

An AUD can lead to many issues that impact an individual’s professional goals, personal life, relationships, and overall health. Below is a list of signs you can expect to see in someone who has an AUD.

People with AUDs:

  • Drink more often or in higher amounts than originally intended.
  • Express a desire to cut down or stop drinking but are unable to do so.
  • Spend a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking. 
  • Experience alcohol cravings. 
  • Are unable to meet responsibilities at work, home, or school because of their drinking
  • Continue to drink even though it causes problems with family or friends. 
  • Stop or cut back time spent on hobbies or other activities that they once enjoyed so they can drink.
  • May lie about their whereabouts, the people they are with, or what they are doing. 
  • Become frequently angry or moody for no reason.
  • Continue to drink even if they have a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety or a physical health issue that is either caused or worsened by drinking.
  • Need to drink more than previously to feel the same effects of alcohol 
  • Have symptoms of withdrawal, which include sweating, insomnia, shakiness, racing heart, seizures, when they try to stop or significantly reduce drinking.

You may also notice the following physical signs of AUDs:

  • Alcohol on their breath
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Unsteady gait or balance

Long-Term Health Conditions Due to Extensive Alcohol Abuse

When alcohol abuse is left untreated, a person’s mental and physical health will negatively be impacted. Some long-term health conditions that may be caused by extended alcohol abuse are:

  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes complications 
  • Heart problems 
  • Brain defects
  • A neurobiological disease called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  • Bone loss

If you know someone who has been diagnosed with an AUD or that often abuses alcohol and is expressing some of the signs and symptoms that were listed above, it is important to get that person help. As you continue to read, we will discuss ways to help you learn how to live with an alcoholic and how to talk to someone about their drinking.

How to Talk to Someone About Their Drinking

Watching someone you care about and love dealing with addiction is a very stressful and unpleasant experience. That person that you knew before becomes a totally different person while dealing with addiction. This is partly because that person is now willing to say or do anything to maintain his or her drinking habit. 

Confronting an alcoholic or someone dealing with an AUD is not easy. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take in order to have a healthy discussion with an alcoholic. 

As great as it would be for an alcoholic to recognize that he or she has a drinking problem and then be willing to seek treatment as soon as possible, it usually does not happen that way. People that suffer from alcohol use disorders will most likely initially deny that they have drinking problems. Instead, they may put the blame for why they need to drink so much on you, their jobs, or something else. 

If you are unsure of what to say to an alcoholic to get him or her to stop drinking and receive addiction treatment, below are some main points you may consider mentioning:

  • Your concerns about your loved one’s drinking and the ways you are impacted by your loved one’s alcohol use.
  • How worried you are about your loved one’s health. 
  • Show empathy by using empathetic statements instead of blame. Such statements include “I know that you’re feeling more stressed than usual.”

Try to avoid using labels like “alcoholic” or “addict.” Using such labels can cause an individual to become upset or defensive because he or she might not realize that he or she has an alcohol addiction. 

Focus more on the person’s behavior instead of the labels. After you have written down what you wanted to express to your loved one when confronting an alcoholic, you should:

  • Avoid doing it alone. Confronting an alcoholic will most likely not be a pleasant experience. It is important to have others around, who understand addiction, as support. 
  • Choose an appropriate time to talk. Your loved ones should not be under the influence when you are trying to express your concerns with them. It is best to confront them while they are sober. You should also not confront a person at a time that you are upset about his or her behavior. For example, right when a person comes home very late or drunk. This will not help the situation. You may appear as if you are just criticizing them. 
  • Know when to step away. If the conversation is becoming too heated and the tension is escalating, it’s important to recognize when to scale back to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way. This is especially true if you have decided to have the discussion alone. 
  • Be firm, clear, and direct. When confronting an alcoholic, you do not want to have your words misinterpreted because you were being indirect. Describe what your loved one is doing and how it is impacting you and your family. Also, try to bring in facts such as the amounts of alcohol that he or she is consuming and the frequency of the person’s negative behavior.
  • Don’t give in. As stated before, alcoholics will say or do almost anything to maintain their drinking habits. They will even go as far as manipulating you, family members, and/or close friends into believing that they will change their behaviors without actually intending to get professional help. In order for alcoholics to truly seek help, do not give in to their promises or try to cover up their lies. It will do more harm than good. 
  • Have treatment options ready. Try to make the process of finding treatment options easier for your loved one. You know your loved one best and doing research and finding quality treatment options and recovery facilities may allow the alcoholic to be more willing to consider treatment. 

How to Live With an Alcoholic

Many families deal with the struggles of living with someone who excessively abuses alcohol or has an AUD. If you are currently living with someone with an AUD, there are ways to cope and treatment options for you and your loved one. 

People who know how to live with an alcoholic may have feelings of self-blame. It is important to remind yourself that the alcoholic is responsible for how he or she handles emotions and recovery from a drinking problem. There could be many contributing factors to why people suffer from AUDs, but to blame yourself will not help the current circumstance. 

Someone living with an alcoholic may also try to control their loved one’s drinking, or enable them. The behavior of alcoholics while or after drinking may be very frustrating, but instead of monitoring their drinking behavior, attempting to remove their alcohol, forbidding them from drinking, or begging them to stop drinking, it’s best to just release control over their alcohol use. You did your part in trying to get them to ask for help, now it’s time for them to be willing to accept your help. 

How to Cope with an Alcoholic Family Member

Coping with a family member who abuses alcohol is a process and it is not one size fits all. Some days will be better than others. Things you can do to help cope while living with a family member that suffers from an AUD:

  • Join a peer support group. You can learn coping skills that can help you deal with your loved one’s behaviors and take care of yourself.
  • Go to therapy. Going to therapy can reduce the stress that is involved while living with someone who is an alcoholic. You are able to also express yourself and your feelings to someone who is willing to listen. By going to therapy, you will also find more ways to cope. 
  • Practice self-care. When people live with someone who is an alcoholic, they are constantly concerned about their alcoholic loved ones, but as a person who lives with an alcoholic, you also have to worry and care for yourself. Try self-care methods such as involving yourself in activities like meditation, exercise, or learning a new hobby. Making time for yourself will relieve pressure and will benefit you and others in your household.

Treat Your Alcohol Use Disorder Here At Grace Land Recovery 

If you need to learn how to live with an alcoholic, contact Grace Land Recovery today. You can also contact Grace Land Recovery to learn how to treat your own alcohol addiction if you have one. Our phone lines are open 24/7 and our recovery center is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.