Reflections on Alcoholism
2009 Heaven Ministries
Itís never easy living with an alcoholic.
Sometimes we try so hard to live with the alcoholic that we end up
enabling them to drink. The problem is we donít see the alcoholic as
being sick but someone we donít like to be around when they are
If they were in bed sick with the flu we would know
how to care for them, but when they are drunk sick there is nothing we
can do, other than watch them drink themselves to oblivion. Sometimes we
take it personally and think they drink so much because of something we
have done, but we shouldnít blame ourselves for the addictions in
The alcoholic is very sick. They are sick
physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. You see, addiction
stunts your growth; it literally makes you stop growing emotionally. The
alcoholic does not know this and they sure donít mean to be this way,
its just part of the sickness. Immaturity is a symptom of alcoholism.
If you live with an alcoholic, you never know what
to expect from one day to the next. You donít know if they are going
to start drinking again and blame you for their problems, or if they are
going to get in the car and not return for days. The alcoholic does some
pretty bizarre stuff sometimes, but that is just part of the sickness
Ė just another symptom.
The loved one of an alcoholic always seems to get
him or her self wrapped up within the symptoms of alcoholism. Ironically
they donít even have to take a sip of alcohol for that to happen. The alcoholicís symptoms can totally overwhelm the loved
one until they are literally at their wits end trying to deal with the
alcoholicís problems and behaviors. How depressing is that?!
And thatís the problem. Let me explain.
An addicted person is so different from their
normal self that when they are drunk its like you are living with Mr.
Hyde. It can be depressing, confusing, scary, and frustrating to watch a
sober person transform themselves into drunks within a thirty-minute
period. Who is this person? One minute he or she is Jekyl and thirty
minutes later Hyde is back. Uh, what happened?
We Enable and Rescue The Alcoholic
First mistake is to think we have to do something!
We think we have to fix them. We throw out all the booze. We hide the
car keys. We bail them out of jail. We help them to bed. We clean up
after them. We lie to people about their behavior. We sweep problems
under the rug. We allow
their verbal and sometimes physical abuse. We remain in denial with the
alcoholic. We protect them from themselves when drunk.
But what does doing all of these things do to
your own mental health? Donít you feel resentful over the
rescuing and caring of someone who treats you with disrespect? All of
these things make you mentally sick with the alcoholic. You are treating
the symptoms of alcoholism with your enabling, and its not working!
Itís like treating a person who gets chronic headaches with aspirin.
Why are they getting persistent headaches? Thatís what you need to
The Alcoholic Needs To Take Responsibility
The alcoholic must be allowed to take
responsibility for themselves and for the addiction. The alcoholic does
not realize the ramifications of their alcoholic behavior on others
because alcohol takes away all inhibitions and modesty from them. They
do not know that they are stunted emotionally because they canít
perceive themselves or their behavior. All they can see is how YOU
always seem to be overreacting and giving in to their alcoholic whims
and behaving moody with them. Do you see where Iím going with this?
What stands out most for the alcoholic is the
behavior of a resentful enabler. Every
home is different and so circumstances are different, but perhaps you
nag and complain to them about their drinking. Perhaps you are talking
badly about them to your children? Or maybe you call them names and
blame them for the failure of your marriage. Whatever it is that you are
doing will affect the alcoholic and how they react and treat their
addiction. Do you understand how that works?
Detach With Love
alcoholic does not need enabling and rescuing. What the alcoholic needs
most from you, even if they donít know it themselves, is for you to back
away from the addiction so they will have to take control of the
addiction and themselves. We should not impede that by enabling or
rescuing them. Leave the responsibility, accountability and blame to the
alcoholic. They need to be responsible for themselves.
The best thing you can do is to emotionally detach
from the alcoholic and their behavior and not take anything personally.
Love the alcoholic, but donít love them to the extent of
hindering recovery. Once you back away from the addiction and stop
taking responsibility is when you wonít feel resentful, bitter, and
offended anymore. They have a problem and they must come out of denial
and take care of their problem on their own.
This does not mean you cannot support them when
they are trying to quit drinking or help them with certain circumstances
in their life when they are sober, it means that as long as they are
willing to work on healing themselves, you will be there for them. But
if they continue drinking you cannot and will not be a part of that Ė
they are on their own. Detach with Love.