Living with Alcoholism: Who has the addiction?

Family members of alcoholics often focus their energy on the problem being the alcoholic.  They do not realize that their involvement and responses play a key role in the alcoholic’s life.  Where there is an alcoholic, there is usually an enabler lurking in the background.  The enabler is the one that provides care to the alcoholic in a way that is not always healthy.

One of the definitions of “enable” is to “make things possible.”  This is exactly what an enabler to an alcoholic does.  The enabler makes it possible for the alcoholic to continue the behavior with minimal repercussions.  The enabler although thinks they are protecting the alcoholic is actually preventing them from reaching the bottom that they need to hit before recovery.
What counts as enabling?

  • Supplying the alcoholic with funds to buy alcohol or other addictions.
  • Paying for their personal well-being including food, shelter, clothing, cell phones, transportation
  • Paying for restitution, bail, legal fees
  • Covering up for their mistakes
  • Making excuses for their behavior

What is the best thing you can do to help your alcoholic loved one in a healthy way?

  • Focus on yourself – When you are constantly focusing on another human being and worrying about them it takes away from you.  The time and energy that you devote worrying about another person is not your responsibility.  Practice taking more time out for yourself daily.  Get into a new healthy habit and focus on yourself.  This could mean taking time to write down your thoughts, going for a walk, or doing something that you enjoy.
  • Stop participating – You have the right to not argue.  You have the right to walk away from someone that is acting out unreasonably.  You have the right to set boundaries and stick to them.  By not participating with someone that wants to argue, you are protecting your emotional well-being.  When the person is able to talk rationally and calmly then a conversation can occur.
  • Find a safe place – If at any time during your relationship with an alcoholic you feel that you or your children are being physically or emotionally harmed, seek a safe place to go.  Maybe you can stay with a relative or a close friend.  Know that it is your responsibility to protect yourself and children during a transitional time.  This does not mean that you have to permanently vacate your alcoholic.  It just means that you are finding a safe place for you and your family until further action can be made.  Consider this a cool down period and a safe way for you both to make healthier decisions about your relationship towards one another going forward.

An enabler has an addiction too… taking care of their alcoholic.  Becoming aware of your role in an alcoholic’s life can help you see your own addictive patterns.  Don’t always assume the alcoholic is the only one with the problem.  Assess your involvement and look towards making changes.  Take baby steps and they will turn into leaps.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Find a local support group in your area or online at Al-Anon Family Groups.

This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development.  You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction.  Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them.  Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.

This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth. Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.

Read a preview below.  Available for purchase through iBookstore and Amazon.com

Living with Alcoholism: When have you had enough?

Once we start to acknowledge that our loved ones have a problem with alcoholism or another addiction that impairs their ability it is up to us to decide when we have had enough of being involved with them.  There are always excuses.  There are always apologies, but actions speak the loudest of words.  It is up to us to be honest with ourselves and truly look at the relationship for what it really is.  We have to separate the fact that our alcoholic may be our relatives, friends, or spouse and we have to look towards our own future and decide whether we want to continue to be on the roller coaster or not.

Even beyond recovery, taking the alcohol away from the alcoholic does not repair damage done.  It does not rebuild trust that was broken.  Most importantly it does not make up for lost time.  We maintain loyalty to our relationships with family and friends, but we have to at some point question their labels to us versus their purpose.  A mutual and loving relationship should not leave us with guilt or confusion.  A mutual healthy relationship with another person should not involve the manipulation of one another’s actions or will.

Some people will make healthy choices in their sobriety and some will not.  Some of the same patterns and behaviors that were present in active alcoholism will resurface in different forms.  It is up to us to continue our own recovery and focusing on our own patterns so that we can make conscious decisions on whether we want to continue to participate or not.  By discovering our own awareness we are able to establish boundaries for ourselves.  We are able to determine if we are making healthy choices and placing ourselves around healthy people.

The patterns we were so accustomed to will no longer feel “normal.”  The old shoe will no longer fit.  We need to be patient with ourselves during this in between time as we will go back and fourth between our old behaviours and new healthy ones.  Eventually we will find our balance and ultimately the answers we need to move forward.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Find a local support group in your area or online at Al-Anon Family Groups.

This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development.  You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction.  Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them.  Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.

This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth. Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.

Read a preview below.  Available for purchase through iBookstore and Amazon.com

Living with Alcoholism: Seeking a Support System

Dealing with a loved one’s alcoholism can take away from your self-esteem and your ability to trust your own sense of judgment.  You may start out positive and very out-going and then turn into someone you no longer know.  Instead of having hope for the future, you may only feel despair. Instead of feeling a sense of confidence in your life choices you may find yourself second guessing your decisions or feel a sense of fogginess.

Just as alcoholism has stages of progression for the alcoholic it also has stages of progression for the alcoholic’s loved ones.  We continue to get worse along with our alcoholics.  We have to get “sick” before we can get better.  Loved ones of alcoholics have to become sick and tired of being sick and tired before they have the desire to seek outside help.  The definition of insanity is trying the same things over and over and expecting different results.  Without the proper tools and understanding of the behaviors and patterns of an addict we can easily fall prey to addiction.  Our behavior can then have impact on those around us especially when children are involved.

Seeking out positive coping methods and support systems is the key to our own recovery.  Talking with others that share the same grief and have experienced similar situations with alcoholism can turn our anger into awareness and our confusion into clarity.  There are options to speak with counselors or you have the option to seek out a free support system called Al-anon Family Groups. There are hotlines for Al-anon that you can call and even online meetings that are scheduled if you do not have a meeting location in your area.

This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development.  You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction.  Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them.  Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.

This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth. Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.

Read a preview below.  Available for purchase through iBookstore and Amazon.com

How to Quit Enabling Your Alcoholic

We don’t realize that someone else’s addiction becomes our own addiction until we take the time to stand back and observe our own behaviors and responses to our loved ones.  Our life revolves around their addictive patterns.  They actually become our focus.  What they do and how they feel that very moment determines how we respond and what course of action we take for the day.  Are they having a good day or a bad day?  We go as far as adjusting our own plans to cater to the needs of our alcoholic.  We tend to them as though they were incapable of taking care of themselves.  We make sure they eat.  We make sure they “sleep” it off.  We cover up their irrational behavior so that they do not have to experience any consequences for their actions.

What we are essentially doing is going behind the alcoholic with a broom and sweeping up any pieces that might fall off, so no one sees what is really going on.  We cover up the mess in hopes that the outcome will change, but it doesn’t.  The irrational behavior only continues and actually increases the more steps we take to cover them up.  What we are doing is not what we think we are doing.  We think that we are helping our loved ones.  We think we are taking care of them, but what we are doing is the exact opposite.  In fact we are enabling the alcoholic to continue to drink because they have no reason not to.  Everything they need to do we are doing for them, so why should they quit?

If they lose their job, then we work harder to support them.  If they need gas money to get somewhere, we give it to them.  If they forget to pay a bill, then we do it for them.  We make sure that their daily comforts are all taken care of so that they are happy, so that maybe they won’t drink, but our rationale doesn’t work to our benefit.  They will continue to use us as a resource as long as we are willing to be one.  The truth is there is no end point.  The alcoholic is not thinking rational and although they may once in a while admit they appreciate your service to them, they do not realize that your service to them and direct attention to them maintaining their unhealthy lifestyle is only maintaining their sickness.

If we truly do care about the alcoholic we support and want to see the best for them, we have to step back and let go of the reigns.  We have to allow them to think for themselves and make conscious decisions on their own behalf.  We have to allow them to hit bottom.  They will never hit bottom, if we are there to hold them from the ground.  Our alcoholics have made the choice to drink and they have to make the choice to quit.  And they will only seek help if their current lifestyle begins to fail them and they start to lose some of the comforts they love the most.

As an enabler we make it easy for them to stay sick.  We take on the burden and take ownership of something that is not intended to be ours.

Here are some quick tips to quit enabling your alcoholic and get support:

1.  If they choose to drink, stop participating in the event.  If you know they plan on drinking then you can plan on not being around them.  Do something good for yourself instead.  Make an appoint to respect their decision to drink and respect your right to live.  You don’t have to be around them when they are drinking.  They will drink regardless of you being there, so you might as well stop babysitting and start living.

2.  Stop financially supporting their sickness.  If they lose their cell phone service because they forget to pay their bill or if they don’t have gas money to get to the bar, stop handing over the cash.  You have your own responsibilities that you have to take care of and this includes your sanity.  You don’t have to defend what is yours or argue about money either.  Simply put you can just say that you have to take care of your own finances and you can no longer help.

3.  Stop making excuses.  Alcoholism and excuses go hand in hand on both the alcoholic’s behalf and yours, so start recognizing when you are making an excuse for your alcoholic.  Stop feeling sorry for them and stop feeling sorry for their actions.  You need to separate their actions and choices from your own.  You didn’t create their alcoholism and you can’t control it either.

4. Focus on yourself.  Focusing on yourself should not be confused with selfishness.  They are entirely two different characteristics.  Focusing on yourself means that you are taking action and responsibility for your own life and allowing others around you to do the same.  Selfishness means that you are unaware of others and only address your own concerns regardless of the impact.

5.  Mean what you say and say what you mean.  Make this your mantra!  Repeat it daily until it actually sinks in and starts to make sense.  Don’t say you are not going to do something and then turn around and do it.  This only gives the alcoholic control over the situation because they know that you are not going to follow through and you are just saying you will.  Establish a positive plan of action and follow through by actually holding your ground or protecting your boundaries.  If you say you are not going to give them money, then follow up with the course of action and don’t give your alcoholic money.  If you say you are not going to be around them when they are drinking, then don’t be around them when they are drinking.  Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development.  You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction.  Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them.  Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.

This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth. Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.

Read a preview below.  Available for purchase through iBookstore and Amazon.com

Do Alcoholics Care How Their Loved Ones Feel?

This question came in from some of our readers.  Excellent question and one that all of us can identify with when we are in the middle of an alcoholic relationship.

To first be able and break this down we have to understand the nature of addiction.  Addiction is more than just a mental carry over where a person believes they need a substance in order to live.

Addiction also carries over into the physical self, where one’s body becomes chemically dependent on a substance to think, feel, and to maintain themselves enough not to encounter withdrawal symptoms.  When you are dealing with any type of chemical imbalance within the body, both emotional and physical aspects of the person are impacted.  The chemicals in the brain are even imbalanced and affect a person to the point where being rational is a challenge.

This being said when we are involved in a relationship with an alcoholic or addict our relationship is impacted by the addiction.  Substance abuse on it’s own causes ups and downs within the addict and the relationship itself will represent if not mimic the roller coaster.  You can have extreme highs and counteract immediately with extreme lows.  You can almost pinpoint the recurring pattern that is exhibited if you take note and observe.

So do alcoholics care how their loved ones feel?  Perhaps on the inside and in their deeper selves they do, but because of the skin of addiction they are unable to decipher their emotions.  Often enough we see people actually using substances to cover or deal with their emotions because substances numb them from feeling.  Substances allow them not to feel things that hurt them, but this also impacts feeling things that can truly make them feel good.  When they are preventing themselves from feeling hurt, they are also preventing themselves from feeling loved.  It’s a two-way street.

The addict doesn’t continue to drink or use because they don’t care how their loved ones feel, it is that they are overpowered mentally and physically enough to decipher between their needs and someone else’s needs.  You can love this person with all your heart and be doing everything humanly possible for them, but until they realize that they have a problem with addiction, they will not get sober based on their relationship with you alone.

Be sure to distinguish what you think is love and what could be enabling.  Separate the addiction from the person.  You can make simple changes that could save your loved one’s life.

This book is the perfect book for in-house personal development.  You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get well acquainted with the many different aspects of families that are struggling through alcoholism or addiction.  Learn how to recognize key behaviors and how to work through them.  Recognize patterns that enable your loved ones to stay sick and learn how to correct them.

This book is dedicated to the family members that still suffer with living with alcoholism and addiction in the home. Making change is often the hardest thing we can do, but it is the best solution for ourselves and for our loved ones with addictions. Never fear independent thinking and growth.

Move forward and seek the happiness you deserve and want. We are never stuck in a situation. There are always choices to be made and options. There is always opportunity for growth. Take that opportunity and embrace it.

Read a preview below.  Available for purchase through iBookstore and Amazon.com