Alcoholism is very difficult to deal with. Once a person develops dependence, it’s nearly impossible to get it out of their system without rehabilitation and detoxification. Withdrawal symptoms will keep you from simply putting down the bottle.
If you’re struggling with alcoholism, you know it’s a disease. It’s not something you can control. You need alcohol in your system—as your body has already gotten used to its presence. You start needing more and more of it just to get the same effects. Satisfaction does not come easily, and an alcoholic will not know when to stop.
But sometimes, we’re not the ones with the problem. There are those who are dealing with alcoholism who aren’t alcoholics themselves. These are the people who are stuck in relationships with alcoholics, or have family members who are alcoholics.
Alcoholism tears relationships apart. The frustration and stress that comes with this situation is more than enough to overwhelm a person. So what do you do if you are currently in this kind of relationship? How do you help a loved one who is suffering from alcoholism?
Here are a few ways to help you manage this difficult situation
There’s no point in covering it up: your partner or loved one is an alcoholic. Denial is always the first stage of grief, but there’s no point in wallowing in self-pity. Accepting the truth will open you up to a whole new world of possibility: one where the alcoholic has a bigger chance of recovering.
This will also give you the inner peace you deserve. While seeking out this personal acceptance, you have to help your partner accept their situation as well. Alcoholics typically hide their alcohol consumption from their partners, or even deny that they have a problem. But once you find a way to come into terms with the truth, only then can you really move into the next stages of recovery.
Dealing with the problem head on is easily the best approach.
Accepting the truth can be difficult at first. And this is because most people need to have a change in perspective. Relatives and friends of alcoholics rarely recognize alcoholism as a serious disease, thinking it’s something that the patient can change with enough willpower. This is in fact something that the alcoholic cannot control, and so you will need to look at it in a different light. See the problem for what it truly is. The alcoholic is no longer in charge of their decision making.
This also goes without saying that concerned family members, friends, and loved ones should also stop blaming themselves, thinking something better could have been done to prevent it. The sooner you channel this negative energy into something more productive, the sooner the patient will recover.
Enabling the alcoholic will only make things worse. Since they have little control over their decision making, concerned relatives must not brush off their behavior. It is important to know that this unacceptable behavior will continue if it’s tolerated. Abuse is never acceptable, and there’s no reason to excuse it.
You have to make active choice in your life to keep this kind of behavior out of the relationship.
Do not let the alcoholic continue in their destructive path. Make sure you are not doing anything that prevents them from facing the consequences of their actions.
Having the problem of alcoholism in your household can be devastating, but don’t let it stop you from formulating a plan of action. Research on what detoxification and rehabilitation entails, and then choose the right program for the patient.
The process of rehabilitation depends on the person’s condition. But in any case, you will need to give them your unconditional love and support. Don’t let previous disappointments and frustrations dampen your optimism: your loved one can recover.
You have to realize that this is going to be a difficult journey. It will definitely have its ups and downs, and every single one of these “downs” will make you feel like giving up. But don’t lose hope. In this situation, the loved ones have more control over their own emotional well-being. They have to keep strong for the alcoholic, otherwise it’s going to be even more difficult.
You need to have reasonable expectations, no matter what program you choose. Alcoholics will promise never to drink again, but you need to see the reality that they’ll get right back to where they started.
We recommend concerned individuals to seek help for the patient, instead of becoming their personal healthcare provider. Professionals will know how to address the various withdrawal symptoms that will make the alcoholic suffer as they get the substance out of their system gradually. Alcohol dependence must not be taken lightly.
Do not let this setback get in the way of your own well-being, hard as it may seem. There’s very little you can do to help the alcoholic if they are unwilling to get better. But don’t lose hope, and don’t lose your sense of self. You are just as important as the person you are caring for, and you are just as vital to that relationship as the person you love.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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