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My Boyfriend is an Alcoholic. How Can I Help With His Recovery?

by Nancy

I have been dating this guy for only 3 months, I knew he had a drinking problem but didn't know to what degree. He is also a substance abuser. He has been wanting to get help for quite some time and after a 4 day binge, he asked for me to bring him to the emergency room to get help.

This happened on November 1st, he was hospitalized for 9 days. He was detoxed in the Psych ward where they also determined he was depressed and anxious. He is starting in an outpatient program next week. He is also currently attending classes for getting a DUI.

He truly is a great guy with a big heart and a lot of potential. He has had a rough life and has had no one to make him see he is worthy of being happy and healthy. I don't understand what he is going through nor the best way to help him. I want to be supportive but I don't want to enable him.

I know he needs tough love but I want to have an idea of what he is going through emotionally. What to expect with his behavior. I know right now he needs to focus on himself and his recovery and not our relationship but it is hard to feel like I'm the only one who's giving at the moment.

I want to understand his moods because they do affect me. I'm trying not to take things to personally but it is very hard for me. I need to know "it's not me". Thank you for any information you can give. I have considered going to an al-anon meeting, do you think this would be helpful?


Hi Nancy

Every alcoholic and drug addict have their own way of handling difficult situations and especially events that they find stressful - some withdraw, others lash out, some play the blame game etc. etc.

So you need to understand that in whatever way your boyfriend does act out, actually has nothing to do with you, and is just a defence mechanism he uses. But when it does happen, you don't have to stand around either and let yourself become his emotional punching bad - as calmly and firmly as you possibly can, call him on his behavior and make it clear that what he's doing in that moment is unacceptable.

Your boyfriend needs to know when he's crossed the line with you, so establishing boundaries is something you need to learn how to do, otherwise you could totally end up losing yourself in all this. Wanting to be there for him is admirable, but beware of taking on the role of martyr, which many in relationships with addicts end up doing because of their propensity towards codependency. You can't change him. Only he can ultimately change himself.

Al Anon is an excellent idea. Interacting and learning from others who are in a similar position to you will help a great deal. And having the support of others who understand what you're going through is also invaluable. At least he's on the right track and getting help so hopefully this is the start of a new life of sobriety for him. But remember that's not something you have any control over - he has to make it happen for himself.

Good Luck.

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Nov 17, 2010
by: Me!...

I have a boyfriend with the same problem. I had to call 911 3 nights ago because he was un responsive after a long day of partying with his freinds. Its been a tough road for us both. He "says" he is not drinking anymore and that this was a real wake up call for him, but as they say in all the AA and NA meetings, we focus on "just for today" if he stays sober "just for today" then we are doing great. Never talk about the future because for them thinking they can NEVER drink again is to much so we just focus on TODAY. My brother is a recovering addict and has been sober for over a year so I have learned alot from him. I love my boy friend more than words can say and he knows i will be here for him through anything but if there is one thing that all of us need to relize is if they cannot stay sober we have to really ask our selves (is this the way I want to live MY life). And that is a real possibility I have come to relize. He is the love of my life and I see my self marring him...if he stays sober! I have faith though and I know he can do it if he just trys. You are not alone in what you are going through. It will work out in the end!

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