Posted on: May 30, 2023
Family Addiction Support Groups: How to Live With an Alcoholic
Addiction of any kind can be devastating, not just to the person struggling but also to their friends, family, and loved ones. Alcoholism is the most common substance addiction in the United States, and living with an alcoholic can be an overwhelming and emotionally challenging experience. Fortunately, there are family support groups for addiction that can help provide guidance through this difficult journey. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of these groups and offer advice on how to support someone struggling with alcohol use.
Alcoholism, medically known as alcohol use disorder, is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. Some signs of alcoholism can include binge drinking, a strong craving for alcohol, cutting back on hobbies you enjoy so you can drink, or drinking to the point of making yourself sick or blacking out. Someone who suffers from alcohol use disorder may end up neglecting their personal or professional responsibilities because of their drinking habits.
Living With an Alcoholic
Whether you’re married to an alcoholic or you’re just the friend of one, cohabitating with someone suffering from alcoholism can be especially challenging, as it disrupts your personal life in the safe space you call home. The person struggling with alcohol use disorder may have unpredictable or erratic behavior and experience mood swings, become especially angry, or engage in impulsive actions. This can create a tense household, making it hard for the other family members living in the home to feel safe.
Living with an alcoholic can also cause unnecessary financial and emotional strain to a family. Alcohol addiction is expensive, and the person struggling may choose to fund their drinking over their financial obligations like their bills, necessities such as groceries, or other household expenses. This can end up causing a heavy burden to the other family members living in the home who end up having to pay for to make up for it.
There can also be trust issues involved when you are sharing a space with someone who is suffering from alcohol use disorder. Someone struggling with addiction may begin being dishonest with family and loved ones. They may lie because they are in denial about their addiction, to avoid confrontation, or to hide their behavior when they are under the influence. Habitual lying can break the trust between an alcoholic and their family members, and rebuilding that trust can be a long and difficult process.
Family Addiction Support Groups
Family support groups for addiction are gatherings of people who have friends or family members struggling with alcohol addiction. This group can provide addiction help for families, and foster a supportive environment for addicts to share their experiences and receive emotional support.
These types of support groups can also provide educational support, such as resources about addiction, treatment options, and coping skills. Participants can learn valuable information at these types of meetings, like the causes of addiction, how it affects the brain, and how to support a loved one who is in recovery.
There are several different family addiction support groups, such as Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA), SMART Recovery Family & Friends, and Celebrate Recovery. These are just some of the many organizations that provide help to those who have been impacted by another person’s alcoholism.
Ways To Cope
Living with an alcoholic can be a hard and emotionally draining experience. Here are some helpful strategies on how you can cope with this difficult situation.
Establishing healthy boundaries is crucial to living with an alcoholic. This can include having a discussion with your loved one about what may constitute unacceptable behavior that you will not tolerate in your home, as well as consequences if those boundaries are crossed. Some examples of healthy boundaries may include:
- Not drinking alcohol around children in the home
- Refusing to give your loved one money
- Not lying for the person struggling with addiction
- Zero tolerance for physical or emotional abuse
It is also important to discuss what will happen if any of these boundaries are broken. This may include having to tell your loved one they can no longer live in your home if they repeat their behavior.
If living with an alcoholic is causing you to feel overwhelmed, you may need to take a step back and seek support. This can come in the form of you reaching out to friends or family members to vent and talk about the struggles you are facing, or seeking professional help, such as a therapist. Sharing your experience living with someone struggling with alcoholism can greatly benefit your mental health.
Do Not Enable
Another way to deal with an alcoholic family member is avoiding enabling behavior that support their addiction. This can include lying for them, making excuses for their behavior, or constantly giving them money without seeing where that money is going. These are just some examples that can allow an alcoholic to continue their behavior with no repercussions.
Take Care of Yourself
Perhaps most importantly, you should prioritize yourself and your own well-being when living with an alcoholic. Someone who drinks excessively may become emotionally or physically abusive. If this is the case in your situation, you should make a plan to keep yourself safe by leaving.
In terms of your mental health, hobbies or spending time with loved ones can help bring you joy and relieve some of the stress that comes with living with someone struggling with alcohol addiction.
Alcoholism can be frustrating and hard to understand. Those who do not suffer from the disease may often ask themselves why an addict acts the way they do. Learning about alcohol use disorder and its harmful consequences can help someone better understand the challenges their loved one is facing.
Taking an online alcohol education course can be a valuable tool in understanding alcoholism. TIPS training provides comprehensive information about alcohol use, promotes responsible alcohol consumption, and can help prevent the misuse of alcohol.