Living with an alcoholic can create a rollercoaster of emotions, most of them being negative. Heavy alcohol use changes a person; it changes their brain chemistry in ways that can make the person act completely out of character. Prolonged alcohol use can lead to other serious health problems and death. For many people, their alcohol use can be pinpointed to a singular event or trauma. A lot of people suffering from substance use disorder also suffer from an underlying mental illness; such as anxiety and/or depression. If the mental illness can be resolved, then the alcoholism can be treated more precisely. One of the biggest problems is getting the alcoholic in for treatment. You can’t force someone to get themselves sober, and that can be undeniably frustrating. Hopelessness begins to set in and you may grow complacent to what is happening. As valid as those feeling may be, action is better than emotions. If you want your husband to put the bottle down for good, you are going to have to be willing and able to show him the light, so to speak. Find ways to encourage him to be better by showing him what he has to live for. If you have kids, remind him in a non-combative tone that he is loved and needed. Unfortunately, it is much easier to make a mess of things than it is to actually fix the problem on the first try.
So, what are some things that you should avoid doing when your husband is an alcoholic?
Tolerating aggressive and/or abusive behavior
You are obligated to protect yourself and your kids if you have any. This does not happen in every case but happens enough to be an issue. Many cases of domestic violence involve alcohol. Even in occasional drinking, alcohol can produce feelings of anger and aggression that are wildly misplaced. Small problems seem much bigger, and emotions are heightened by the ethanol coursing through his veins. When you live with someone that is in an almost constant state of intoxication for an extended period of time, tensions can run high and get out of control. If it happens once or twice and treatment is sought out, forgiveness is a valid option. However, just because your husband is suffering from alcoholism, that does not mean that you should feel obligated to put up with abusive behavior. Standing by and being hurt over and over again is not how you get your husband to seek sobriety. You just end up breaking yourself down while the addiction remains alive and well preserved in your husband. Alcoholism is not a valid excuse for abusing your loved ones. Even though it explains the behavior, the person needs to take responsibility for their actions and take the steps to correct them.
Neglecting self-care and mental health
Building off of what was mentioned above, it is very important to take care of yourself throughout all of this chaos. If you are tired, malnourished, and not taking time to take care of yourself, you may fall into a similar rabbit hole. If you plan to spearhead getting your husband sober, you need to make sure that you are okay mentally. There are meetings and groups for the family of alcoholics. It’s a place where people can share their experience with other people that completely understand what you are going through. If you are not a fan of groups, you should look into seeing a therapist to help you unravel your own issues and give you the space to let out what you may be holding in.
Arguing while intoxicated
Arguing with a drunk person is like yelling at a brick wall; you are getting nowhere because they don’t really hear you. Yes, they can hear what you are saying as you are saying it and they understand the words that you are saying, but they are impaired. Intoxication from alcohol causes temporary impairments in the brain that make it hard to function. This is why it is illegal to drink and drive. When someone drinks and gets mad, they most likely won’t even remember it in the morning. This is another reason why it is pointless to engage with a drunk person. The can barely grasp what they are saying, depending on how impaired they are. You may notice slurred speech and confusion during conversations, which only adds to why you shouldn’t engage. It might be hard, but you are going to have to try your best to not react to the insults that may be thrown your way, at least until your husband sobers up. And even then, the chances that he will remember what he said will be slim.
Pouring out the liquor
Time and time again, family members see a loved one drinking way too much and decide to just remove the culprit by pouring out the alcohol. This “out of sight, out of mind” way of thinking is flawed because it neglects to take into account the lengths an addict will go to get their fix. Pouring out the alcohol will do nothing more than create tension and make the alcohol search out the means to get more. Sometimes these means by which the alcoholic gets their liquor are illegal and/or manipulative. By dumping out the alcohol, you will likely make your husband feel the need to hide the bottles and hide his drinking from you more. Everyone is different; if your husband is more of a hot-head, he may just react in anger and continue his behavior as before.
Ignoring or covering up the issue
Denial is one of the first stages of alcoholism. It doesn’t just come from the alcoholic themselves, it can come from well-meaning family also. Hiding the issue or covering up wrongdoings is not how your husband is going to get better. This is a form of enabling that can have disastrous results in the end. If you husband is drunk and does something to land himself in trouble, you are going to how to let things play out the way they are supposed to. You can’t go around lying for him or making excuses for unacceptable behavior.