Living With and Loving an Alcoholic and the Destructive Nature of the Disease

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There is no way that someone living with an alcoholic parent or significant family member can say that it isn’t a struggle. Alcoholism is a disease that effects not only the person suffering from it, but every member of the immediate family and sometimes other family members and even friends, co-workers and anyone with a meaningful tie to the alcohol themselves. Because of the nature of the disease, many alcoholics become more self concerned and narcissistic. They often lose the regard they once had for the rest of their family, and this is particularly destructive when the alcoholic happens to be a parent and a relied upon provider for the family. The disease itself can be life-shattering and can completely and systematically remove things from the addict that they hold most dear. A career, a marriage, kids, a good home and even their financial well-being. It truly is a sad site to see, and can turn into an often cruel spectator sport for those living with someone who has been taken over by their addiction. Not to mention the toll it inevitably takes on those around the person who is suffering so badly.

“Those who live with an alcoholic have to strike a precarious balance,” comments Mike Shea, founder of Chapters Capistrano, a southern California drug and alcohol rehab center. “You have to remember that the person is still the person you’ve known and loved, but he or she is now in the grip of a dangerous disease. It is critical to be patient and compassionate, yet also to protect yourself and to refuse to enable. All of that can be extraordinarily taxing, emotionally and even physically.”

For some living with an alcoholic it can be a truly trying time, a living hell even for some, but because of the fact that the disease is so unpredictable, it can also seem exciting and even romantic at times when that now unpredictable family member does something so unexpected. The problem, of course is that for the most part dealing with alcoholism is not glamorous. Some alcoholics try to wall themselves off because they realize how destructive their behavior is, so they do their drinking away from the family, often at bars, parties or nightclubs. While this act may seem compassionate, the truth is that their loved ones are still suffering because they often don’t know where you are, if you’re safe or in trouble, and the end result of a night out drinking is still that you eventually have to go home and inevitably face your family. Not only does the behavior of an alcoholic become a burden on those around them, in the case of an alcoholic being a parent, role-model and provider, they often become a burden themselves by losing their job and putting financial strain and uncertainty on their wives, husbands and children.

The treatment and recovery of an addict who’s drug of choice is alcohol is so essential to restoring certainty, sanity and stability to a family unit. If you are living or have been living with an alcoholic and there has been no change for the better, it’s time to act in their best interest and get them involved in an alcoholics anonymous program, or a trusted treatment facility. It is difficult to watch someone you love and care about destroy their lives, and often their only hope is to be treated by professionals who know and understand this disease better than anyone else. Treatment will provide the skills addicts will need to stay healthy for the rest of their lives, and will provide them with a solid foundation that will transform them back into the person you knew and loved.

 

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Sobriety Foundation

Living With and Loving an Alcoholic and the Destructive Nature of the Disease

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