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Living With An Alcoholic – Don’t Forget To Have A Life

by: John McMahon

Often people who live with an alcoholic spend much if, not all, of their time looking after the drinker. They worry about when he will arrive home, even if he will arrive home. They worry about what condition he will be in when he arrives home, whether he will be in a good mood or spoiling for a fight. It is a wonder that anyone living with an alcoholic has time to do anything else, other than see to their drinker.

Organizations such as Al-anon rightly suggest that anyone who lives with an alcoholic needs to detach. That is they need to stand back from the alcoholic and let him lead his own life. That means worrying about him less, stopping clearing up after him and no longer making excuses for him and generally letting him experience the consequences of his drinking. Agreed this is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have been caught up in his drinking for some years.

One thing that may help is to ensure that you have a life of your own. As many people who live with alcoholics do, you may have been covering for your alcoholic and ensuring that the world does not know of your problems. This wall of secrecy is a double edged sword. On the one hand it protects you from the shame and stigma of the problem drinking behavior. It hides the worst of the anguish, arguments and anxiety but it also cuts you off from the very people that can help, your friends.

Most people who live with an alcoholic find themselves losing touch with their friends. It does not usually happen quickly, instead it happens over time as you refuse first one invitation, then another. Soon there are no invitations to refuse any more.

It is time to change that situation. It is time to, not only accept invitations, but also to issue a few for yourself. It is time to stop hiding away and to stop being secretive about the problems that you are facing. It is time to stop living in the shadow of the alcoholic and start living for yourself. There may be something that you have always wanted to do, for example you may have wanted to learn more about using computers, or learn about photography or learn to paint. These are things that you can do for you.

There are real benefits to having your own life. If you focus on something other than your alcoholic means then you will spend less time worrying about him and his behavior. Research suggests that being left to fend for himself can bring the reality of his problem home to him. Your self esteem will improve and your depression and anxiety levels will decrease. Having interests outside the home and the alcoholic will make you more interesting and will reduce your levels of resentment. It will help you to build a support network that could sustain you when things are difficult. Lastly it will reduce the fear of being left on your own if the relationship finally becomes unsustainable.

So if you live with an alcoholic make sure that you have a life for yourself and that you have a network of friends and family that can support you when you need it.

See Also:

Living With An Alcoholic
Living with an addict of any kind is always difficult, especially when you love them and they are part of your family. Addictive behavior is very destructive and the addict can unwittingly ruin the life of their loved ones.

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About the Author:

John McMahon has worked in the addiction field for over 25 years. In that time he has worked as a therapist, university lecturer and researcher and has published about 50 articles in scholarly journals and books. He is also the originator of a brand new concept in alcohol treatment on line - 24/7 Help Yourself as well as a website to provide help and support for people living with problem drinkers - Bottled-up.

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