My partner, the alcoholic

Just about got through Christmas? Glad to finally be back at work or that your partner has gone back to work? Not sure where to turn as you love your partner and they can be amazing but their drinking is out of control? Convinced yourself that this person will change and you just have to hang on there?!

When talking about addiction people often focus on the addict but not always the people around them. Loving an addict whether they are your partner, parent or adult child is tough. You can sometimes feel like you're in limbo as so much of your mood can be dependant on what their mood is like.
Sometimes you might think it's easier to just accept the way things are. 

The thing to remember is that the addict has to want to change. No amount of begging, placating or getting angry will alter this. Stopping an addiction is hard work in itself so if they're not doing it for themselves it often won't work.

What we know is that families where an addiction is present often face the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stigma
  • Isolation
  • Lack of information about drug and alcohol misuse as well as recovery
  • Financial issues
  • Conflict
  • Issues around general wellbeing.

I have often heard the families of substance misusers say that it feels like they are in the trenches with the addict as so much of their lives depend on them.

So what can you do?

First of all take a pause. As hard as it is, you have to look after yourself. Talking to someone who will support you through this is essential, seek support. Adfam recommend that therapists support you using the 5-step model

The 5-step method is a brief psycho-social counselling approach for family members. The steps are:

  1. Listen, reassure, explore concerns
  2. Provide relevant information
  3. Discuss coping
  4. Discuss social support
  5. Direct family member to other appropriate support.

Evidence suggests it leads to a reduction in the stress and strain experienced by those close to someone with a drug or alcohol problem. This is not the only way just one.

Importantly find a therapist who has worked with addiction and/or the loved ones affected by addiction.  And good luck. Looking after yourself after caring for someone with an addiction is a huge change but you cannot pour from an empty cup!

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified Psychotherapist who has worked with Couples, Addiction, DV, Young Offending, Grief and Bereavement as well as Anxiety and Depression.

I am Integrative in my approach but often work Systemically. I have a private practise and work with Relate.… Read more

Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

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