My Boyfriend Is an Alcoholic. What Do I Do?

Alcohol use disorder does not only affect the individual drinking but also their loved ones. Watching your boyfriend struggle with alcohol addiction can be heartbreaking. He may be neglecting his responsibilities, getting into legal and financial struggles, or abusing or mistreating other people, including you. Witnessing your boyfriend’s drinking and the deterioration of your relationship can evoke many negative emotions, including fear, anger, shame, and self-blame. Your boyfriend’s addiction could even be so overwhelming that you see it easier to ignore it and assume everything is fine. However, denying it will worsen the problem.

It’s important to remember that you’re not the only one experiencing this problem. Alcoholism affects so many people, from every race, social class, ethnicity, and culture. However, there’s help. Although you cannot do the hard work of overcoming addiction on behalf of your boyfriend, your love, patience, and support can play an integral role in their long-term recovery. Here’s some advice for talking to your partner, resources to help them find help, and tips to help you stay protected throughout the process.

Hold A Serious Conversation With Your Boyfriend Concerning Their Drinking

If you think your boyfriend has a serious problem, the first thing you should do is to sit him down for a serious discussion about their drinking. If he’s in denial of their issue, you cannot do much to help them overcome the denial and defensiveness. However, you can show them love and care and let them understand how their drinking affects you and the relationship.

When talking about his drinking, discuss how it affects your mental health. For example, you can say, “When you drink too much that you blackout, I get scared and worried that you will get involved in a fight or drive drunk and end up dead. This fear affects my peace of mind.”

Encourage Him to Seek Help

Don’t expect your partner to overcome alcoholism on their own. Even if they don’t need medical supervision to overcome safely, they will still need guidance, support, and new coping strategies to quit or reduce their drinking.

You can encourage your boyfriend to get help finding an addiction therapist. Having a guide to handle feelings and problems as they come up can be helpful. Basically, when a substance gets removed, all other emotions that have not been addressed, like trauma, resentment, and childhood pain, arise, so many people become highly emotional during the initial stages of their sobriety. They can feel vulnerable, like walking around the streets without clothes, that’s why it’s crucial to support them during this time. If your boyfriend is unwilling to join a 12-step program, working with an addiction therapist can help him overcome his problem.

Evaluate Your Part in Encouraging the Behavior and Seek Help to Break the Cycle

Addictions occurs in a cycle, and as your boyfriend’s significant other, you’re a part of the cycle. This means even though you have nothing to do with your partner’s behavior, it’s essential you look inward to determine how you could be unconsciously encouraging the behavior. For example, you could be enabling the behavior by making excuses for the boyfriend, ignoring bad behavior, covering for him, putting his feelings first, failing to express your feelings, or blaming others or situations for your boyfriend’s behavior.

There are a few things you can do to break this system. For example, you can join programs for people who have a spouse, friend, or relative with an addiction problem. These programs can offer you tremendous support. In addition, you can go for therapy. If you have concluded that dating abusive partners is a behavioral pattern rooted in a feeling that you don’t deserve a good partner, a therapist can offer you the support you need to break the cycle and deal with this mindset. A specialist can also give you the support you need to end the relationship if your partner doesn’t change his behavior.

Alcoholism is a progressive problem. This means that if someone with alcohol use disorder doesn’t get help, the problem will worsen. You have to protect yourself from your partner’s self-destructive behavior. Remember that if he becomes violet during his blackouts, you must leave for your safety- that’s non-negotiable. On the contrary, if your boyfriend identifies the problem and accepts help, this can strengthen your relationship. Some of the people who struggle with addiction and seek help become some of the most connected and insightful individuals. While helping a person with an alcohol use disorder can be challenging, it’s possible.

If you have a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we can help. Call us at 302-842-2390.

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