Do You Love an Alcoholic? Stop Rescuing and Enabling (Part 1)
by Angie Lewis 1/15/2007 / Self Help
Do you love an alcoholic? How can you live with an alcoholic and love them at the same time? Very carefully. It's true, it is very difficult to live with an alcoholic, but people do it all the time. Alcohol controls the mind and spirit of a person, so in affect as long as the alcoholic is drinking you will not get much love in return. Being married to an alcoholic is not a reason for divorce. It is reason for helping your loved one with the disease. Alcohol addiction is called the insidious disease for a reason. It breaks up homes, kills lives, and keeps them from discovering the Creator. Can it get anymore insidious than that?
A person who drinks excessively is called an alcoholic but that is not who they are. A person who drives a truck is called a trucker, but that is not who they are. I believe alcohol addiction to be a phase or transition of a person's life, meaning it can be temporary. But many alcoholics become sober only to start drinking again, soon after, why? It is because they think they are in control of their addiction, but they aren't. If a person truly wants to get sober and stay sober, they will.
The person behind the destruction and deception of alcohol is a totally different person when they have been sober for six months. A sober alcoholic can be a very loving and spiritual human being who is able to discern right from wrong and able to live a happy and abundant life. As long as the alcoholic remains drinking, his true character remains hidden from others, and will be under the control of the drink in every aspect of his life.
What can you do for the alcoholic in your life? The first step in helping them is to first help yourself. Become knowledgeable about the disease. Once you realize the impact of how your actions may be affecting the alcoholic in your life, you can detach properly from their destructive behavior. Detaching can be difficult to do but if you love the alcoholic and want to be supportive, detaching with love is the way to go.
Are you enabling your loved one to drink? Are you rescuing them from their problems and responsibilities? Ask yourself these questions to find out?
Am I doing anything that would enable the alcoholic to drink?
Am I doing anything that would facilitate the alcoholic's behavior?
Am I doing anything that would rescue the alcoholic from his problems?
Am I getting driven into the disease with the alcoholic?
The only way to truly be supportive is don't rescue, don't enable, and don't allow yourself to get driven into the disease with them. Here are some of the ways you enable the alcoholic.
You enable when you take up the slack for the alcoholic by doing their chores, duties and responsibilities. You enable when you give the alcoholic money or buy them booze.
You enable when you drink with them, or when you do anything to help the alcoholic to continue to live his alcoholic lifestyle and not realize that he has a drinking problem. If you do everything for him, how will he know?
Here are some of the ways you would rescue the alcoholic? You rescue when you sweep the alcoholic's messes under the rug. The alcoholic NEEDS to be responsible for his own mess. You rescue when you lie for them. You rescue when you bail them out of jail or pay court fees for them.
Understand that the enabler/rescuer, which is you, help the alcoholic to continue drinking when you unintentionally become entangled within the deception of the disease with them. Remember, alcoholism is an insidious disease, and it will trap you in its grip if you allow it to. Don't allow this to happen, or there will be no hope in the alcoholic to ever stop drinking.
How would you become driven into the disease with the alcoholic? By trying to control the alcoholic and how and when he drinks. By threatening the alcoholic with angry words and name calling, you are driving yourself into alcoholism. Don't fuss, fight, argue, plead or try to control the alcoholic it won't work!
When the alcoholic spouse tells you they are sorry for anything bad they did against the marriage or you, they probably are really sorry, but that does not mean that it won't happen again. An alcoholic can't control their actions once they start drinking. The drinking is what makes them out of control and under the enslavement of the disease.
There is great hope for the alcoholic in your life, if you take care of yourself first, by not enabling, rescuing or getting driven into the disease. Once you are aware of what you should and should not do, you will be free to set boundaries for yourself in the home. An alcoholic will not abide by any boundaries, so it would be fruitless to try. You are setting boundaries for your own spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being, not the alcoholic's. See part 2 on setting boundaries for you.