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How to Support an Alcoholic?

by LD

My husband is an alcoholic. Last night he attended an AA meeting and came home with the attitude that I needed to be more supportive.

I'm not sure how to be supportive. I've grown tired of the cycle. By cycle, I mean the drinking too much and behaving badly to me and the kids and then the guilt the next day and the depression that lasts a week.

Then he'll have a couple of good days and then the cycle starts over. I guess I just don't believe him and just think that he's just trying to pacify me.

Currently, he is unemployed and I work so naturally I expect him to help keep the house clean during the day. That doesn't happen. Normally, I find myself at home during my lunch break cleaning the house while he sits on the couch depressed.

Today, I told him that even though you are depressed, the world doesn't stop. You have to keep moving because me and the kids still depend on you. I was raised that when things get rough, you have to keep pushing and not wallow in self pity. I want him to get better but find myself becoming bitter. How do I support him if he's serious?


You need to be honest with your husband about how you're feeling - and tell him that for you to be supportive, he needs to start taking some more responsibility for his behaviour and that he can't carry on as he is.

Try to meet him half way by finding some middle ground. If he seriously works at his recovery and does his bit at home ... you'll be totally supportive of him and will show that by going to Al Anon meetings (for loved ones of alcoholics) for example.

But he does need to get serious about his recovery, which ultimately means he has to stop drinking. Because a lot of the symptoms he's experiencing like the depression and guilt are largely linked to his drinking. Alcohol is a depressant that severely affects your mood and well-being.

Because until he actually quits and actively works a program of recovery (which is more than just going to the occasional AA meeting) - not much is likely to change.

And if things don't change and your husband doesn't make the necessary effort, you then have to decide if you can continue with your marriage as it is ... and make the consequences clear to your husband of what will likely happen if he doesn't take responsibility for his drinking and getting sober. Tough love is unfortunately sometimes the only thing left to use.

God Bless

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Oct 10, 2009
by: Anonymous

Being supportive of an alcoholic doesn't mean you cater for their every whim. In fact, often being the most supportive involves creating very clear boundaries of what kind of behaviour you will and won't tolerate. An alcoholic needs to become accountable for the consequences of their continued drinking if they're ever going to change ... so by having clear boundaries with resultant consequences of overstepping those, the alcoholic no longer 'gets away' with their drinking. This can help them reach their bottom sooner and so go on to make the changes they need.

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