Some people question if they are alcoholics, and usually define it by the amount of alcohol they drink. As each person has different tolerance to alcohol, alcohol impacts individuals in different ways. My definition of alcoholic is determine by the consequences of the drinking and its impact on the person’s family, relationship, career and life, while causing recurring problems in these domains.
Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes troubles controlling ones drinking. In addition, the user is being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol without consideration to others or to the problems it creates. Also, having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking alcohol is another sign of alcoholism.
In addition to the destructive elements alcohol has on the alcoholic, it also affects the spouse of the alcoholic person. The spouse of an alcoholic is challenged by difficult emotions such, frustration, anger, loss, need to deal with angry alcoholic partner and face difficult dilemmas. In a healthy relationship, each spouses should take each other’s feelings into account whenever a decision is made. So, if the addicted person cannot fulfill agreement s/he agreed upon because of his “obsession” with alcohol, or the person cannot stop drinking for the benefit of his or her relationship, then this person is alcoholic.
Being with alcoholic partner is a very difficult situation. In this case, the spouse of an alcoholic may encourage the alcoholic partner to enter into treatment without making any threats. The treatment could be a Detox program, which is normally done at an inpatient treatment center or a hospital. If this does not work, the spouse can offer an individual counseling for the alcoholic partner. If this does not acceptable to the alcoholic partner, the spouse can offer couples counseling as a way to help the relationship as a whole, which the alcoholic partner may be more willing to accept.
During the couples counseling process, you may be able to prove to your alcoholic partner that you care about him or her. With the help of the psychotherapist, the alcoholic may realize his situation and be encouraged to attend a Detox center or do something about his/her drinking problem for the sake of the relationship.
If the addicted partner turns down treatment, then I encourage the sober spouse to attend Al-anon or some other support group for spouses of alcoholics. Al-Anon is a support system for the families and friends of the person who is going to AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) meetings for an addiction. While AA meetings is to help the person that has an addiction, the guidance you, as a spouse of alcoholic, receive in Al-anon will teach you how to be emotionally withdrawn from a husband who does not have the ability (remember he has a disease) to care for your interests. You must understand that your husband is hopelessly lost to his alcohol, and that any effort you make to try to please him will not help him and will not be reciprocated. As soon as you realize that s/he will not meet your needs, and you cannot meet his/her, you empower yourself to take care of your needs and accept things that are beyond your power.
Again, the addict will not be able to meet your emotional needs, and you will not be able to meet his, until she/he becomes sober. So if you want to remain married to an alcoholic, you may have no other choice but to accept the advice of the co-dependency movement and be emotionally withdrawn from him. Al-anon is a good place for support as well as learning more about co-dependency and how to deal with that. Through that process, you will learn to have a happy and fulfilling life without depending on your husband for your happiness or fulfillment.
Please visit author, Moshe Ratson (MBA, MS LMFT, LMFT) at his google+ Profile: +Moshe Ratson