It can make you a little crazy. That sentiment is echoed all of the world by people who either live with alcohol drinker today or have lived with one in the past. It doesn’t matter if you are the spouse, the son or daughter, or even the adult child, living with an alcoholic has no doubt touched you deeply.
About.com writes about the importance of this problem in families :
Those of us who live or have lived with active alcoholics or addicts find that we have been deeply affected by the experience. Many times, the frustration and stress that we feel can be caused by our own actions and choices. By adjusting our approach and our attitude toward the problem, we find that we can place it in a different perspective, so that it no longer dominates our thoughts and our lives.
The reason for this is that a practicing alcoholic is completely consumed by the desire to protect his source of alcohol and preserve his ability to drink it. Due to the addictive nature of the disease of alcoholism, this compulsion to drink is stronger than any other feeling or emotion in his life.
That dynamic creates difficult questions and doubts in the family unit. Why does he care more about alcohol than he cares about us? Why won’t he stop drinking when he sees how much it is hurting our family? Why?
A spouse is put in a terrible position. She may confront him with his drinking, but unless she is willing to give him an ultimatum, she has no leverage to force him to seek help. If she does gives him an ultimatum, she must accept the fact she may end up a single parent or may have to live alone. She still loves him – she just wants him to quit drinking.
A spouse is also frequently put in compromising positions by her alcoholic mate. When he can’t get up to go to work, does she call in and lie for him? Does she hide his drinking from outside family, friends and neighbors? If she tries to hide his drinking from others, it requires her to create a huge web of deceit. She then feels complicit in his destructive behavior.
Children, too, find living together with a functioning alcoholic to be difficult on many levels. First, they are deprived of a loving parent. Second, they cannot depend on that parent, nor can they trust what he says or does. They may be too ashamed to invite their friends over or have their father pick them up in the car. They may cringe each time they hear their parents arguing or fighting.
Children react in different ways when has a drinking parent. Some withdraw and become silent and aloof. Others try hard to excel in everything in order to win their parent’s approval. Still others become problem children by getting into trouble as a way to attract their parent’s attention.
Often these tendencies stay with children into their own adult lives. It is not uncommon for adult children of alcoholics have many emotional scars and issues that may require professional help to overcome.
One helpful thing that everyone who lives with alcoholic needs is the strength and encouragement of others who are going through the same experience, or who have lived through it in the past. There is something extremely cathartic about sitting down and sharing experiences openly and honestly without fear of reprisal.
If you would like to help, there are many good alcohol rehabilitation programs such as Alanon that have been helpful to millions of people in your position. Avail yourself to their outstretched helping hands.
PS: Coming soon our guide for kids with explaining what to do in case if you living with an alcohol addict.