Alcoholism is a disease that burrows deep into a person’s psyche and takes hold, addiction is a mental illness and the impact is not just on the alcoholic themselves but everyone around them.
You can’t help who you fall in love with, but you find when you love an alcoholic that you learn some really tough lessons that also impact you in a way you never imagined.
You hear stories from friends around you that have been through similar times with someone they love who has an addiction, but no stories can ever prepare you for the dark road you travel down all in the name of love.
Here are some things that I wish I would have known, and that you should know if you love an alcoholic.
Your love cannot make someone to recover
Love does not conquer all, and that is the cold hard fact. An alcoholic will always put their addiction before you and will continue to do so until they accept they need professional help. It will drain you emotionally and physically and should you have children what you are feeling is the same for them. No amount of begging or pleading with them will make them stop drinking. They have to want to stop.
Alcoholism is a disease
When you are dealing with an alcoholic or any other addiction their need for that addiction will always come first. They need that fix, they believe it will make life better for them even though it is, in reality, making life worse and as they travel down that road those they love to travel with them but they can’t see that.
Make alcohol a priority
Nothing else is a priority to them, not you, not your children, only alcohol will be their number one. For a time you may even wonder if they really are an alcoholic, perhaps they are just a heavy drinker, as they seem to function well, hold down a job, yet slowly over time you see that alcohol is what they live and work for. It isn’t until they perhaps lose their job that you see how bad it has become.
When alcohol begins at their waking moment then continues through until sleep or should I say passing out know that at this stage there really isn’t anything you can do to stop them, they may try and have some sober days for you as they don’t see they have a problem, but as the withdrawal symptoms set in, they relapse and you are left broken as to why their addiction has ruined all your hopes and dreams.
Isolation from loved ones
As they isolate to try and hide that they have a problem, you may find yourself isolating too. You feel ashamed and that perhaps you are to blame for their addiction especially if he didn’t have the addiction before you were together. The power of alcohol in him will make him manipulative, and even drive away people who matter in your life away, people who could have helped you out or to see things differently.
A deeper problem than visible ones
Alcoholism isn’t just about wanting to drink, it is much deeper than that. The drinking is about trying to blot out the inner battle and pain. Childhood trauma does play a part in any addiction, or trauma at any time can also prompt the need. Insecurity leading to low self-esteem and lack of the ability to express and feel emotions are key factors.
He will never love you as you deserve
You have to accept as hard as it is that they are not in a relationship with you, they are in a relationship with alcohol and that betrayal runs just as deep as if you found him having an affair. Alcohol is the mistress and you will either have to fight her for him or accept that you will not win. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is leave someone you love, but it is necessary for your own mental health and those of your children.
It is not your full responsibility to care for someone who is an alcoholic, they have to take responsibility for their addiction. They have to want to give the addiction up. Rehab is time-consuming and costly, it will affect each of you in a different way, but never allow the addict to lay a guilt trip on you, its time they took responsibility for themselves, you can’t keep holding them up.
Living in fear of their relapse
So you stayed with them, you saw them through rehab, they come home and you then find another battle to fight each day, watching them to see if they fall off the wagon. To be honest, relapses are part of the recovery process and they could have been clear of alcohol for a long time then “BOOM” they are on the drink like a person seeing water for the first time in days after being in the desert.
They take place when you thought least expect it, and they are very emotional, painful, and tumultuous.
Only you can decide if the love you have is worth all the pain, but remind yourself if you are in love with an alcoholic that their first love will always be alcohol.
Yes, there are plenty of those that recover and go through the AA program, but it is true what they say;
“Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”.