Living with an Alcoholic
From personal experience, living with an alcoholic is somewhat an emotional rollercoaster. On one hand you love that family member who suffers from addiction and on the other, you hate their illness.
At times it’s heart-breaking to watch somebody who you love be consumed by their alcoholism. When someone who suffers from alcoholism is incoherent and intoxicated it’s almost as if they become a completely different person. A man, who when sober, is warm, funny, charismatic and kind is transformed into an irritable, restless, discontent, drunk.
On one occasion I watched my stepdad in a drunken blur pull a knife out whilst sitting on the sofa and attempted to cut his wrists whilst my mother pretty much jumped on top of him wrestling him in hope to take the knife from his hands. On this occasion they were both very lucky that nobody was injured. He said the next day that he couldn’t even recall what had happened that evening. Both I and my Mum were in shock.
Another time I remember my stepdad getting into a blazing row with my mum which escalated very quickly to smashing the house up, and being very verbally abusive. This has happened several times. However, this time my mum could not just sit back and watch him brake everything they had worked so hard for so she called the police. They arrived very quickly and my stepdad was furious and again very much so intoxicated. It took four police officers to remove him from the house and place him in custody, he did not go willingly but spewed abusive slurs at the officers and then spent the night at the police station and faced going to court.
It’s is an illness which not only affects the addict/alcoholic but the surrounding family members and friends. I have watched my mother crumble to her knees on many occasions unable to leave her toxic relationship even when staying means putting herself in danger – I think this is because she cannot let go of the man that she fell in love with – the man he is when sober. Also, I have seen her change into a person that enables another’s sickness, trapped in a cycle of being a victim and then a rescuer. She always seems to have hope that he will change or just stop drinking.
I, however, feel differently, working in a treatment centre highlights that you cannot rescue or save somebody who simply does not want to be saved. Something my mother refuses to accept, I imagine this is something she does to aid self-preservation.
I guess the point of me writing this is just to emphasise that addiction is not an illness that solely preys upon an individual but a disease that affects so many more. If you’re reading this on your own behalf I strongly urge you to think about the consequences of your behaviour and actions. I know that alcoholism/addiction is something people fight their whole lives but I have witnessed both the good and the ugly. Sobriety IS achievable. I have observed first-hand with other family members and know countless amounts of people who have been to rehab that have overwhelming gratitude for their recovery. I would strongly recommend for any addict/alcoholic to consider getting help via an alcohol rehab clinic or self-help organisations in order to achieve any sense of normality.
To the family and friends of the addict, I just want you to know you are not alone and there are so many resources out there that can be of service to you Al-anon and Alateen are just two. I highly recommend attending these meetings. Al-Anon Family Groups is a “worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.” Alateen “is part of the Al-Anon fellowship designed for the younger relatives and friends of alcoholics through the teen years” The fellowship is for relatives and friends of alcoholics to share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems. The fellowship belief is that alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.