Living With a Recovering Alcoholic and How to Be a Support System

by | Mar 15, 2020 | Addiction, Recovery, Recovery Treatment Services

living with a recovering alcoholic

More than 86 percent of Americans over the age of 18 reported drinking alcohol at some point in life. Each year, approximately 88,000 deaths are due to alcohol consumption. But that’s not all.

The National Institutes of Health reports that over 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent struggling with alcohol addiction.

Living with a recovering alcoholic can be challenging, especially for children and teens. Recovering alcoholics often struggle with withdrawal symptoms and may experience mood swings, irritability, anger, or intense cravings.

Recovery is a lifelong process. Every interaction between loved ones and the addict can be troublesome. Therapy, AAA meetings, and coping strategies may help, but family support is often the most important factor in recovery.

Whether you’re married to an addict in recovery or dealing with a teen trying to beat addiction, it’s essential to show your support. Try to help during stressful situations, help them find a new direction, and know when to step back.

Not sure where to start? Read on to learn how to support an alcoholic in recovery and make things easier for both of you.

What to Expect After Alcohol Rehab

The recovery process is different for each individual. As a friend or a family member, it’s important to support the recovering addict in your life. Be prepared to deal with a mix of emotions and face new challenges on a daily basis.

When a recovering addict comes home, he is not cured. This is just one of the many steps to a successful recovery. Nowadays, alcohol is widely available, so those trying to overcome their addiction are constantly facing temptations.

Former addicts often struggle with financial hardships, relationship issues, and health problems. Some have lost their jobs and must start all over. Others have a hard time staying sober and may become angry or irritated out of the blue.

Marriages and relationships take a hard hit when alcohol use disorder is involved. Even if your spouse is no longer drinking, he may still have issues managing his addiction. You must be prepared to deal with these problems and support your loved one in his journey to a healthier life.

Many people reach for alcohol in an attempt to cope with stress, frustration, and other negative emotions.

Therefore, you may need to help your loved one find a hobby or discover new ways to deal with his feelings. In this role, you may find yourself witnessing the painful emotions that alcohol once dulled.

Some former alcoholics feel guilty about their behavior, which may lead to depression and relapse.

Others experience anger and mood swings, creating an unsafe environment for their loved ones. Everyone’s journey is unique, but similarities exist.

If you’re wondering how to support an alcoholic in recovery, keep reading. Consider using the following strategies to help your loved one get his life back on track.

Individual and Family Therapy Can Help

Therapy can be helpful for both recovering addicts and their loved ones.

In family therapy, a clinical counselor will facilitate communication between the two parties and help them express their feelings toward each other. He or she may also ask questions about any problems you are facing and support you in finding the best solutions.

This therapeutic approach helps families acquire and develop new skills to improve the home environment.

Recovering addicts are encouraged to set goals and learn strategies for changing their lives. Their partners, on the other hand, have the chance to better understand and address their behavior.

The goal of family therapy is to bring productive changes for the couple or family involved. A skilled counselor can address these complex relational patterns and help the parties overcome any challenges that may affect their relationship.

Individual therapy can be just as beneficial.

A recovering addict may not feel comfortable talking about his struggles in the presence of a loved one. During therapy, he can express his emotions and find healthy ways to cope with them.

The same goes for his family and friends. If, say, you feel anger toward your partner — who is a recovering addict, you may feel guilty about it. A counselor can help you deal with these issues and keep your sanity.

Educate Yourself

Living with a recovering alcoholic can be difficult and frustrating. That’s why it’s important to learn about the recovery process and what to expect.

Try to find out more about the risk factors for relapse and which triggers to avoid so that you can help your partner.

Read books, discuss with a counselor, or attend AAA meetings to gain a better understanding of what your spouse is going through.

Make sure you are able to recognize the warning signs for alcoholic relapse.

Whether your partner is becoming isolated or hanging out with others who drink, it’s your responsibility to help him get back on track. Either behavior may indicate that something is wrong.

Many alcohol rehab facilities provide education for recovering addicts and their families. Requesting more information from experts is a good starting point.

These educational programs may help families stay together and learn the best ways to support their loved ones during recovery.

Support Sobriety

An occasional glass of wine is fine for healthy individuals, but not for recovering addicts. One of the most important things you need to do when living with a recovering alcoholic is to maintain an alcohol-free environment.

Go out to family-friendly restaurants and cafes that serve no alcohol. Vegan restaurants and wellness cafes, for instance, serve fresh fruit juices, smoothies, virgin cocktails, and other non-alcoholic beverages.

If you have any wine, beer, or other alcoholic beverages at home, it’s essential to get rid of them as soon as possible. Give them to a friend or lock them in a cabinet.

Let your friends know about the current situation and ask them to refrain from drinking alcohol in the presence of your spouse.

Other lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and regular exercise, can make it easier for your loved one to stay sober.

Consider creating a balanced diet and exercise plan for the whole family. Simple things like going on walks, cooking together, or planning active weekends can make all the difference.

Discover More Strategies for Living With a Recovering Alcoholic

These are just a few of the strategies you may use to support your loved one. Living with a recovering alcoholic isn’t easy, but you can make it more bearable.

The key is to educate yourself, prepare for the challenges ahead, and make changes to encourage sobriety.

Our rehab facility provides outpatient treatment services in San Diego. By working together, we can help your loved one prevent relapse and regain control over his life.

If you’re not in San Diego, you can still enroll your spouse in our Virtual Outpatient program. These services are available to all California residents. Contact us today to find out more!

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