Drinking alcohol is nothing new. We’ve been doing it for thousands of years and are likely to continue doing it for many years to come. It is considered perfectly normal behavior by many different cultures around the world. Many people think there is nothing wrong with having a drink after a hard day at work, enjoying a glass or two with dinner or sipping Piña coladas by the pool. Indeed there isn’t much wrong with the occasional drink or two. However, problems arise when a person’s alcohol consumption spirals out of control. Recognizing when someone you care about has crossed the line from being a moderate or social drinker to one who has a problem is not always easy. Understanding there is a problem is the first step to helping them overcome it and either quit altogether or cut back.
Signs to Look Out For
Because drinking alcohol is such a large part of our culture spotting when someone has an addiction is not always easy. Not spotting the warning signs means any kind of treatment will be avoided. If you’re suspicious about your partner and are wondering whether they have a drinking problem, there are several tell-tale signs to look out for:
High tolerance: An alcoholic will slowly build up a tolerance for alcohol. It means they will have to drink more in order to feel the same effects. When others have slowed down, an alcoholic will just continue.
Moodiness: We all have bad days, but for an alcoholic, they outnumber the good ones. This is because managing the problem can be very stressful on a physical, mental and emotional level. Their moods will rapidly swing up and down, and they will quickly turn angry or irrational.
Skipping commitments: When a person isolates themselves and doesn’t show up for work, it is a sign there is something seriously wrong. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sign of alcohol addiction.
Hiding alcohol: If your partner is hiding the alcohol from you and drinking secretly, they know they are doing something they shouldn’t but aren’t able to control it.
Lack of self-control: An addict often loses all sense of right and wrong. They find they are unable to control themselves and make sound judgments. The result of this is that they take more and more risks and often find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Drunk driving is one example.
Physical symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Trembling or twitching
- Racing heart rate
Different Types of Alcoholic
If a person regularly drinks to excess, finding themselves intoxicated and unable to make sound decisions, it is considered problem drinking. There are different types of drinking behavior. A binge drinker is one who frequently consumes large amounts. If the drinking takes place regularly in increasingly large amounts, this is considered to be alcohol abuse. A person who has become psychologically and physically dependent on alcohol is classed as an alcoholic. According to the medical profession, there are five different types of alcoholic.
Young adult: Average age is 24. They will be drinking heavily by the time they are 20.
Young antisocial: Average age is 26. More than half also have an antisocial personality disorder.
Functional: They tend to be middle-aged, employed and in a stable relationship. They drink five or more drinks on a daily basis.
Intermediate familial: This type of alcoholic tends to have a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism.
Chronic severe: This is the rarest type, and around 9% of alcoholics fall into this type. More men suffer than women, and another drug also tends to be used.
A determination of the type of drinking behavior your partner falls into will help when it comes to finding the right treatment. Take a look at this website if you want to find a treatment center near to your home.
Different Types of Treatment Available
Various types of treatment are available depending on individual needs. Convincing your partner to accept treatment can be very difficult, but don’t give up on them. You will get through in the end and your support is a vital part of any recovery program. Once a person recognizes they have a problem, there are several places you can go for help. The best place to start is with a health care provider. After an initial appointment, they will help you decide the best route to take.
Medication is one course of action, and there are currently only three types approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The one downside of taking medication for the problem is that it will not cure the sufferer. However, it is considered to be very effective when used in conjunction with other treatments.
The most common way to treat alcoholism is with counseling or psychotherapy. This will take place at a registered treatment center, of which there are many. Each center will have its own approach. However, there will always be some common elements. These include individual therapy, group therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, dialectical behavior therapy together with holistic care.
How You Can Help Your Partner
Before you talk to your partner about the problem you should rehearse what you’re going to say. There is no point in being confrontational and accusatory. You need to let them know you care and be positive and supportive. Picking the right time to have this important conversation is also vital. You don’t want to be interrupted, and they shouldn’t be preoccupied with other issues. A time when they are sober is the best time of all.
Don’t be tempted to sweep the problem under the carpet and pray it will go away. You have to be open and honest and explain you are worried about them drinking too much. Also, explain that you will be there for support.
Be prepared for a range of different responses. They may immediately be on the defensive and deny having a problem. Anger could be the first response, followed by grave remorse. Whatever the reaction, you have to stay calm and not take any comments personally.
It could be that your partner refuses any form of treatment. In this case, all you can do is be there for support. It will be up to them to decide whether to take it.
What is an Intervention?
An intervention is one course of action if your partner is resistant to getting help. The process involves planning, explaining consequences, sharing and offering an option for treatment. Friends, family members, co-workers and other concerned people come together and confront the person with the problem. They will then be urged to seek treatment. A professional counselor will usually be part of the intervention process. They will be there to offer advice on the treatments available and find programs in the area that may be able to help.
Supporting Your Partner Through Their Recovery
The treatment for an alcoholic is not an instant fix; it is more of an ongoing process. Once your partner has gone into therapy, your work is not over. Spending time with them will be helpful. Offer to attend meetings if you think they’d appreciate it. If there’s anything you can do for them at home, then make the offer. You will need to stand by them not just during the treatment but afterward as well. Alcohol is everywhere, and it can be very difficult for a recovering alcoholic to resist the temptation. Your ultimate role is to offer support.
Take Care of Yourself
Providing your partner with emotional support can be very draining. It won’t be long before your health and well-being start to suffer. Try and get some help from a trained therapist or counselor the moment you start feeling stressed or depressed. There are also programs designed specifically for family members and friends of alcoholics. Al-Anon is one such organization.
Try not to become codependent on your recovering partner. This is a common problem for spouses or partners of an alcoholic. You become totally wrapped up in their problems and feel compelled to help them get well. The problem with this is that your emotional tie will prevent you from looking at the issue objectively. If your codependency is allowed to get out of control, it can lead to issues such as obsessive behavior, mental health issues, and blame. It is possible to be supportive without feeling the need to be a personal counselor or life coach.
Finding the right way to talk to a partner about a problem with alcohol can be very difficult. Thinking about how you would feel in the same situation is a good way to approach the issue. The most important part for you to play is to be there for them when they need support. When you approach them, be empathetic. Always be honest about your concerns. Let them know you will be there when you’re needed and if they want to talk to someone. Offer to go along to meetings with them as well. For your own wellbeing, take good care of yourself too. You’ll be no help to anyone if you’ve allowed yourself to become run down and depressed.