What to do when your partner suffers from alcoholism

How To Deal With An Alcoholic Partner

Alcoholism is a significant problem in our culture today. Unfortunately it is a disease that affects millions of adults in the United States and the number continues to rise. Because it is a disease of physical addiction, alcoholics prioritize drinking over other aspects of their lives, sadly often costing them their jobs and their families.

It is no secret that all relationships can already be complicated. Dealing with alcoholism, however, can put a significant strain on a relationship, particularly for the non-addicted partner. Often times, alcoholism within a relationship is coupled with physical and/or emotional abuse, infidelity, problems with the law, blackouts, and other related health problems. A hallmark sign of alcoholism is that the alcoholic is in denial that a problem even exists.

While it is true that many couples live with alcoholism, more often than not the relationship won’t survive as a result of the alcoholism. In reality, the addiction must be addressed in order for a healthy relationship to ensue. It is also important to note that even when an alcoholic seeks treatment, sometimes there are other conflicts in the relationship that remain and result in the relationship ending anyways. Regardless, partners who choose to remain in the relationship despite the alcoholism can benefit from learning how to appropriately manage their situation and avoid enabling their partner.

It is very important for the non-addicted partner to equip themselves with appropriate information about the disease of alcoholism, including the signs to watch for and where to seek treatment. Talking to an addicted partner about your concern regarding their addiction, while necessary, can be a very difficult situation and is often met with denial. Arranging an intervention with family and/or friends may be another helpful way to help the alcoholic seek treatment. If the alcoholic refuses to seek treatment, it is very important that the un-addicted partner seek appropriate support for themselves through a group such as Al-Anon, a support group specifically for family and friends of those suffering from alcoholism.

When the alcoholic is ready to seek treatment, it is important to let them know that they have the support of their partner throughout the recovery process ahead. Alcoholism is a disease, and as such, requires appropriate treatment and a support system for those affected. Sobriety is a process and it can take a number of years for the alcoholic to truly be in recovery. It is important for partners to learn to separate themselves from the alcoholic’s addiction and related life choices while moving forward with their own life goals.

Partners of alcoholics, particularly those in married relationships, often do choose to stay in the relationship with those addicted. Even when the choice is made to remain committed to the relationship, it is important to note that if at any time it becomes an unsafe situation for the non-addicted partner or children in the home, it is time to leave the relationship, no matter how difficult it may be. While a partner’s support is important in any relationship, it is not their responsibility to recover their alcoholic mate; this mindset must be maintained in order to work through the process in a healthy and appropriate manner for all parties involved.

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