5 Tips for Helping an Alcoholic Partner
Updated: Mar 5
Addiction is a disease that not only affects individuals, but their loved ones as well. With 14.1 million U.S. adults experiencing alcohol use disorder (AUD) in their lifetime, the reality of addiction has touched countless lives. And if your partner has an alcohol use disorder, you may feel helpless, hurt, and even guilty. Here are several steps you can take to be there for your partner and prioritize your own holistic care.
How to Be There for an Alcoholic Partner
Seek Out Resources
Supporting an alcoholic partner can be overwhelming, so it can be helpful to educate yourself about alcohol use disorder. Consider reading articles and books about substance abuse, why it happens, and what language to use when talking about AUD. You can also find resources for partners of individuals with AUD or discuss resources with a mental health counselor. Setting this foundation can help you better support your partner.
Support Without Enabling
The line between supporting and enabling your partner can be tricky to navigate. In general, supporting your partner can look like:
Being available to listen
Driving them to therapy appointments
Helping them research treatment options
Planning fun activities that don’t involve alcohol
However, it’s easy to unintentionally enable your partner’s behaviors. Enabling your partner can look like:
Making excuses for their choices
Lying to loved ones about your partner’s behavior
Failing to express your own emotions
Ignoring your own needs
Mental health counseling services are available to help you determine whether you’re enabling your partner and how to support them instead. Consider seeing a therapist regularly to prioritize your own well being.
Encourage Them to Seek Help
Remember: You can encourage your partner to seek support or treatment, but you can’t force them to. If you’re ready to talk to your partner about seeking help for their addition, you’ll want to find the right time and place to do so. Bring up the topic with your partner when they’re sober and in a relaxed state. You should also choose a quiet and neutral location for the conversation. Keep in mind that this conversation likely won’t be easy. Be sure to prioritize your safety and walk away from the discussion if need be. You can always come back to it in the future.
Loving someone with a substance use disorder is mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing. It’s essential to set boundaries and make time for self care. Some boundaries might include:
Not allowing alcohol in the house
Refusing to lend your partner money
Setting aside time to spend with your friends
Closing the door for alone time
Prioritizing your personal safety above all
Boundaries are difficult to set with your loved ones, since you want to do anything you can to help them. However, healthy boundaries are key for maintaining your own mental strength and emotional resources.
Remember Your Own Mental Health
When your partner has alcohol use disorder, it’s easy to throw all of your energy into their well being. However, this can lead to burnout. You need to take care of your mental health first. Group counseling can be a helpful resource for coping with your situation. You can meet other individuals who have an alcoholic partner and learn strategies through group therapy activities.
If your partner has a substance abuse disorder, now is the time to put yourself first. The licensed therapists at The Collective offer group and individual counseling services for a variety of mental health needs. Our Denver, Colorado mental health services are available at a number of area locations. Contact us today to book an appointment near you.