I contemplated writing this for a while, because I’m not really comfortable talking about someone without their permission. But the more I thought about it, the more important it seems. I know there are other people out there who are going through a similar situation I am.
I can hardly remember a day when my dad wasn’t drinking. Or a time that my grandpa didn’t pass out in a chair at a family gathering. Or when my grandma was alive, she drank bottles of wine like they were just plastic water bottles.
In July of last year, my mom unexpectedly filed for divorce. That was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. A couple months later, he tried sobriety for the first time ever.
I think it was a desperate plea to win her back. But when my dad tried to talk to her about it, she responded with nothing more than “do what you want.” It’s been months since she talked to him and the divorce isn’t even finalized yet.
My dad was doing so good for a while. He didn’t go to therapy. Didn’t see a doctor. He did it all on his own. But then he went away on business, and he’s been drunk again ever since.
During his time of sobriety, he said “It’s really not that hard.” And he told me and my sister that all we “had to do was ask.” But now that he’s drinking again, he says he “can’t” stop drinking whenever we ask him.
I can’t even begin to tell you how heartbreaking it is is to finally feel like I was getting my daddy back only to have it all wiped away. But through his sobriety I learned a lot more about addiction.
Here are my top five tips for coping with an alcoholic.
As much as I want to yell and pitch a fight any time my dad is drunk, I understand that addiction is an illness. People can’t just “snap out of it.” They just can’t get sober whenever they feel like it.
Like all addictions, recovering from alcoholism is completely draining and one of the hardest tasks they will ever go through.
Attacking them will never make it better.
What I’ve learned through my battle with self-harm addiction is that recovery is not a linear pattern. Recovery is a lifelong war that has to be broken into smaller battles.
Every day that someone remains sober is a huge check mark. Every time someone pulls themselves out of temptation, they are victorious.
It’s important to celebrate these victories as they come. Encourage them by showing you are proud of them.
AVOID THE TRIGGER
This should be a no brainier, but a lot of people still can’t grasp the concept. Alcohol is a drug.
Do not consume alcohol around them. Don’t take them to places where alcohol is readily available. Please chose to put the needs of others in front of your wants. If you can be sober for them, the whole experience will be a teeny bit better for them.
And please, please, please don’t ever buy someone who is struggling with alcoholism alcohol. No matter how much they “like” it.
SIT THEM DOWN
It’s only natural that the times you talk about someone’s alcohol addiction is when they’re too drunk to even walk down the stairs straight. Even though it might be hard to catch them when they’re sober, it’s better if you try make that time.
Basically the only opportunity I get to even talk to my dad is right when he gets off of work. I have to catch him before he makes a beeline upstairs. I also know he’s going to be drunk morning and night on the weekends, so that’s never going to be a good time to try to communicate.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, you can write them a letter. I actually prefer writing a letter because I can plan out exactly what I want to say in the most sincere and compassionate way possible.
Compassion is the key. Focus on how their alcoholism makes you feel. Try not to point fingers or blame them. You have to be very careful to not be too pushy.
It’s a good idea to also prepare yourself for what they might say to you after and how you’re going to respond to that. Unfortunately, you might even have to prepare how you’re going to respond if they don’t say anything at all.
GIVE THEM RESOURCES
You can follow up your sit down talk with resources. Or you could hand them with the letter you wrote. You can even discreetly give them if you’re more comfortable.
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Please don’t get discourage if things don’t go the way you want it. Chances are, they won’t genuinely listen to you. They may get defensive and angry. This is when you focus on being patient and kind.
Please don’t give up on them.
It’s so important to take time for yourself as well. Try taking a mental health day every once in a while to help rejuvenate yourself. Dealing with someone’s addiction can quickly consume your life.
Do you know someone struggling with addiction? How do you cope?
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