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Dealing with Alcoholism: What You Need to Know

Dealing with alcoholism or any other form of addiction is a traumatic, at times almost surreal experience. I never truly understood the extent of my mother’s alcoholism when I was growing up – until I ended up going through and being treated for my own addictions.

I knew she was an alcoholic, I understood that there was something very wrong with our family environment (especially when I compared it to that of my friends) – but yet at times it was almost just a ‘normal’ part of our family dynamic.

I guess because it started before I was young enough to understand any better – and because it was a constant presence in especially my formative years – it just seemed to me that that was the way my mother was and that there wasn’t much we could really do about it.

The fighting and tension between my mother and father, the secrecy we as a family maintained not to tell anyone what was happening, the many failed promises of saying that this was the ‘last time’ – was just part and parcel of how things were. No one seemed to know any better.

What confused things even more was the fact that my mother actually managed to stop for a 10 year period – most of my school years. A few AA meetings and will power ‘seemed’ to be what did the trick. Until of course one day that theory went to pot when she hit the bottle again – which led to another 10 year period of sustained and heavy drinking until by that time having the knowledge and understanding of what we were dealing with – my sister and I were able to take effective action, but more on that later ...

Dealing with alcoholism or addiction as a family member or friend of loved one is an incredibly trying and difficult experience. Firstly, your immediate reaction is to want to keep things secret (as we did) because of the shame you feel. And so despite the empty threats you might make on occasion – the alcoholic can keep on drinking because they never have to experience the consequences of their behaviour since we do a pretty good job of constantly covering up for them and never actually holding them accountable. AA or NA lingo for doing this is called ‘enabling’ their behaviour.

Then inevitably the alcoholic person we care about so deeply will be in denial to the extent of their problem. Denial is the biggest obstacle an addict or alcoholic faces in overcoming their addiction. A drug addict or alcoholic is always rationalising that their problem isn’t that bad, is under control, that they can stop by themselves if they have to - despite all their failed attempts and the fact that their life is falling apart.

Dealing with Alcoholism: What You Need to Do

The first thing is to realise that it’s not your fault in any way and it’s not you who is going to get that person recovered. You will inevitably feel some form of guilt (I did as a child and it’s still something I carry with me) whether or not the addict in your life explicitly blames you or not, which is something they sometimes do.

That was never the case for me – but somehow I still felt guilt and it is something I struggle with still today. But whatever you may be feeling it is vitally important that you remember that their drinking or drug using is in no way your responsibility.

Then you need to equip yourself with the knowledge of what alcoholism and drug addiction is actually all about. Speaking to a friend, even if it is a well-meaning one, can just end up with you being given wrong information, especially because any form of addiction carries such a heavy stigma to it. Many people are inevitably misinformed and have an opinion, even if it is way off the mark. So spending time reading this site should provide you with the understanding and knowledge you need.

The biggest weapon in your armour is then looking to do an Alcoholism Intervention. If done well – there is no more powerful method is ensuring the alcoholic/addict in your life gets professional help and treatment. It’s the tool my sister and I used to get my mother into treatment – and she’s been sober since. But I must warn you – you only get one shot at doing it and so it needs to be properly researched and done well. Click on the link above to find out more.

You need to realise though that there is no shortcut or quick fix in dealing with alcoholism or other form of addiction in someone you care about. But don’t despair because all is not lost. By no longer enabling their behaviour and arranging for an Addiction Intervention to be done – you are doing everything you possibly can to help.

Also knowing what your Drug and Alcohol Rehab options are, understanding how Codependency effects a relationship and how to handle things if Alcoholism and Marriage is a problem, will help when dealing with alcoholism.

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