The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

How to help an alcoholic partner

How to help an alcoholic partner

Alcoholism is a problem shared by millions of people around the world. It has been on the rise since the previous years and doesn't seem to end despite efforts made by governments, non-profits organizations, and other institutions.

Paolo Reyna
Aug 02, 2021

Table of Contents

Alcoholism is a problem shared by millions of people around the world. It has been on the rise since the previous years and doesn't seem to end despite efforts made by governments, non-profits organizations, and other institutions.

Of all alcoholics, only about 10% seek treatment, as most are either unaware they have a problem or are too afraid to commit themselves to rehabilitation, sometimes due to shame. Active alcoholism is treatable provided it is diagnosed at an early stage, and the patient receives prompt medical attention. Therefore, if you have a partner suffering from alcoholism, it's never too late. Below are some ways you can help the partner.

Admit there is a problem

The first step to recovery is you and the partner admitting that there is a problem. There are several signs to indicate if your loved one drinks too much. Some of these signs include drunk driving, a broken relationship, alcohol-related accidents and hangovers.

To know if your partner is addicted, try to check on their moves. Try staying at home when they go out and see if they return at the expected time. When they don't or when they come home subconsciously due to heavy drinking, understand that there is a problem.

Open lines of communication

Communication is the single most important factor for a healthy relationship. Abstaining from alcohol is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes will, power and determination to quit, especially if you have been addicted for a long time. Ensure that you sit down with your partner and be open to each other while finding ways of helping solve their addiction.  

Do you know why your loved one started drinking in the first place? The most common reasons for alcoholism include depression, loss of a job, changes in life circumstances and peer pressure. Ask them about these underlying conditions and try solving them before thinking of rehabilitation.

Get your partner to rehab

With time, alcohol addiction becomes a dangerous threat to your loved ones' lives, forcing you to take the extra measures to save their lives. Among the favorite measures you need to take is taking your loved one to an alcohol rehab center. This idea should come when you have done all to stop the situation but in vain. At the rehab, your loved one will meet doctors, counselors, therapists, life coaches and many other professionals who will be at the frontline to help them recover from the situation. 

Some special programs and treatments will help deal with the addiction and prevent it from happening again. You will also get training and resources on how to take care of the addicted loved one and ways to avoid a relapse. Therefore, when all is not working well, send your loved one to a rehabilitation center.

Don't offer an ultimatum

If your partner is an alcoholic, it may seem like a good idea to threaten them with abandonment. This is not a healthy option as it may worsen the situation. Making threats will make your loved one more defensive and less likely to accept help.

Instead of threatening them about leaving them behind, try talking about how alcoholism has impacted you personally. The best thing about talking is that it helps you channel your anger into something positive and productive rather than aggressive and destructive. Therefore, try to accommodate the situation and find ways of helping them.

Don't pass judgment or shame

Don't pass judgment or shame

It would be best to try to understand why your partner drinks before you criticize or shame them. Alcoholism is a disease, not a character flaw. Telling your partner that they deserve the addiction because of bad past choices will blame them for something that is out of their control. This situation will make them defensive and less likely to come to terms with their addiction.

Instead of placing blame, focus on how alcoholism has affected you, rather than focusing on your partner's behavior, which is part of the problem. For instance, you can tell them how you feel hurt seeing them in such a situation instead of continually asking them why they drink too much.

Reach out

Alcoholics require constant support from friends and family. At times, it becomes emotionally and financially draining trying to manage an alcoholic. Therefore, it is important to reach out to your loved ones and see how you'll help your alcoholic partner. Also, if the addicted person is seeking help on their own, seek support from other sources.

You might be tempted to cut ties with your partner for their choices that have hurt you and the family. However, if this relationship means a lot to you, ensure that you maintain communication. This works best in cases where rehab treatments are not working.

Offer helpful resources to help them quit

Alcohol abuse can destroy a life. You cannot stop this on your own. For instance, if your partner cannot quit despite trying rehab treatments, you need to find other sources of support and guidance.

A good way would be to help him access books that provide useful advice on controlling alcoholism. Giving your partner such resources will show that you are not giving up hope. Such materials are also important when your loved one gets done with rehab and tries to find ways of living a good life.

Be there for yourself and your partner during the recovery process

Recovery from alcohol addiction requires time and support from loved ones. If this is a person who you care about, then you must be there for them through thick and thin. Look out for signs of relapse, which often occurs during such times as holidays or birthdays etc.

Be present when they visit their therapist and take an interest in their recovery process all the way through. Ensure that you Offer mutual support because both of you will need each other's strength to get through this difficult period, especially if they fail therapy or refuse treatment.

If you are reading this article, it is probably because you care for someone who has a drinking problem. You may have tried to set boundaries and give them support, but nothing works, or even if they overcame addiction in the past, they fall back into their old drinking habits within months. It would help not to give up yet. The above tips will greatly help you overcome your partner's addiction. You have to ensure you administer them well for effective results.

Paolo Reyna | Paolo is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in International Studies with a Latin American emphasis. During the fall semester of 2012, he had the opportunity to study abroad in Peru, which piqued his interest in international growth. He learned about the disparities that impact indigenous peoples, got a taste of Peruvian culture, and improved his Spanish skills. Mitchel interned with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, conducting research on food security in Latin America, after being inspired by his foreign experience. He wants to work in international development and for a government department, writing legislation. He loves playing intramural basketball and practicing for the Chicago marathon when he is not thinking about current events in Latin America.


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