Living with an alcoholic is very challenging. Although substance use disorders are tough for the individual at hand, for friends and family, this time can be disheartening, worrying and difficult to accept.

The rollercoaster of emotions commonly experienced over long-term alcohol abuse can be hard to deal with. The experience feels inhuman to brush under the carpet and left to fester. 

However, for some partners or family members, limited knowledge of how to deal with an alcoholic is present, in turn, brushing an alcohol addiction under the carpet.

Although it is important for the user to accept rehabilitation opportunities, as loved ones, a duty of care is present to compassionately support and motivate addiction recovery. After all, the severity of addiction can be unclear for the alcoholic. Yet, as witnesses, the damage of addiction is distinct. 

If you’re living with an alcoholic, unsure about how to help them through their alcohol addiction, this guide is for you. Here at Addiction Advocates, we are passionate about supporting all individuals affected by addiction.

Through our below guide, learn exactly what causes alcoholism, how to spot the signs and symptoms, and how to avoid enabling alcohol consumption. If further support is required, we can offer a family referral service, promoting the prospect of addiction recovery via a rehab facility.  

If you have any questions, concerns or hope to help your loved one currently struggling with addiction, reach out to our team. It is important to address any worries you may have, linked to mental illness.

Avoid overlooking any actions or behaviours out of character, down to the difficulties of approaching your loved one. With the right approach, you’ll offer support and invaluable resources through this sometimes lonely and petrifying time.   

What are alcohol abuse and alcoholism?

Substance use disorders are categorised into two boxes. Some individuals will experience mostly physical side effects, known as alcohol abuse. However, for those who are living with psychological side effects, alcoholism will be present.  

Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism are where excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed. Although we live within a heavy drinking culture here in the UK, there is a line between recommended and excessive measures.

Those who abuse alcohol will likely have the ability to stop consumption. Those who drink excessively will likely have a fixation on alcohol, difficult to shift; whether it’s used as coping strategies, as a way to block out mental health issues or to escape reality.  

However, alcoholics will unfortunately experience the common side effects of addiction, with a large focus on cognitive changes. Alcoholism is a mental illness. The initial causation of alcohol abuse will commonly be linked to negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and experiences, all heightened in the mind.

Once a reliance is placed on alcohol, to block out the negatives, internal functions will change, imbalances will occur, physical and psychological cravings will develop. Here is where the concerns of living with an alcoholic and avoiding the signs and symptoms are placed.  

Without intervention, without addressing addictive behaviours, without attempting to motivate addiction treatment, alcoholism can and will develop into a chronic mental health condition, resulting in a dual diagnosis.  

To understand whether your loved one is depending on alcohol, for any given reason, please familiarise yourself with the common signs and symptoms of addiction. It is important to note that any individual can become an alcoholic. Do not disregard your loved one’s behaviours by denying addiction probabilities.  

The signs and symptoms that your loved one has an alcohol addiction

Below are common signs and symptoms to look out for. Although some will deviate from person to person, it is important that you acquaint yourself with them, to understand whether you’re living with an alcoholic partner, family member or friend.   

  • They may commonly drink with the sole purpose to become intoxicated 
  • They may rely on alcohol, no matter the time of day 
  • They may become agitated if alcohol cannot be purchased or consumed 
  • They may binge drink  
  • They may experience a loss of interest in hobbies, their
  • relationships, their career, their persona 
  • They may attempt to keep their alcohol consumption away from
  • you  
  • They may experience associated mental health issues, such as depression 
  • They may drink excessively in social situations  
  • They may find it difficult to stop drinking, down to chronic withdrawal symptoms 

If you spot a combination of the above signs and symptoms, while understanding that greater alcohol consumption is taking place, you may be living with an alcoholic. Before greater difficulties arise, we recommend considering professional support on how to approach the topic of alcohol abuse in your home.  

How difficult can living with an alcoholic partner be?

Alcoholism alone is a very demanding mental illness to live with. Yet, once combined with additional life problems, mental health issues and home pressures, alcohol addiction can intensify, making it even harder to live with an alcoholic.  

From relationship breakdowns, reduced responsibilities and financial problems, to emotional effects on children, health concerns and legal implications, living with an alcoholic partner or family member over time can be draining.

It can be life-changing if intervention isn’t promoted. Without addressing the negative habit of alcohol abuse, there is the likelihood that addictive behaviours will be enabled and aggravated at home. Here is where a dangerous, high-risk cycle can advance, sometimes resulting in life-limiting episodes, domestic abuse and crime.  

Living with an alcoholic is one of the hardest things to deal with. Attempting to balance your loved one’s emotions while acting responsibly and rationally can be hard in the moment. Yet, with professional guidance, living with an alcoholic can be eased, with the aim to promote the value of rehabilitation.  

How to avoid enabling addictive behaviours

Many partners, family members or friends may unknowingly enable excessive alcohol abuse. From purchasing alcohol to control the unbearable withdrawal symptoms to acting on threats and maintaining an alcohol accepted environment, greater alcohol dependence can mistakenly develop.  

If you do spot the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction, it is important that you consider your actions, your approach and your environment. Healthy boundaries and coping strategies should be promoted while protecting the health and safety of your loved one.  

Understanding what’s best for their long-term quality of life should overshadow any immediate needs or feuds in association with alcohol consumption. Although it can be difficult to control, enabling and fuelling this behaviour can worsen the strength of addiction, while also reducing your credibility when recommending future recovery.  

The next steps of dealing with alcoholism

If you believe that you’re living with an alcoholic, it is important that you take the next few steps carefully, following our guidance here at Addiction Advocates. Once you do have evidence and encounters that alcohol consumption is negatively impacting your loved one’s life, we recommend reaching out for support, soon followed by a family intervention process.  


Step 1: Intervention  

By reaching out to our team, we can help you understand the best angle to approach talks on addiction. Through our intervention services, we can facilitate a neutral and supportive meeting for your loved one, with the aim to raise their awareness of your concerns.  

Although interventions can sometimes be initially unsuccessful, here you will learn your part in living with an alcoholic. You’ll be advised to approach the topic compassionately, following a non-judgmental focus, by offering support and reassurance. You’ll also have our support to increase the appeal of rehabilitation efforts.  


Step 2: Rehab  

If an intervention has successfully been completed, where addiction treatment is accepted, here a localised rehab facility will be recommended, marking the commencement of a rehab programme. This is the most effective way in which your friends of the family will diminish their alcohol addiction.  

Again, support will be available for those living with an alcoholic. You’ll have the opportunity to complete family therapy and support groups, increasing your knowledge of addiction. Benefiting you greatly, your loved one will also benefit by experiencing increased support, comfort and motivation.  


Step 3: Post-rehab programmes  

Post-rehab, it is likely that your loved one’s addiction will subsidise. However, long-term recovery efforts are required. With this in mind, thought processes, healthy routines and preventable steps must be in place when living with an alcoholic; whether currently diagnosed or recovering.  

You will be provided with guidance on how to ensure your loved one maintains addiction recovery while setting healthy boundaries.  

Although this process may not always be accepted by your loved ones, guiding them to valuable recovery opportunities will be beneficial.

Living with an alcoholic can be very challenging. Supporting them through initial rehabilitation can be draining. However, long-term quality of life can be increased for all parties by following our guidance.  

Addressing alcohol problems is a must. Without taking action, the difficulties of living with an alcoholic can worsen, leading to life-changing impacts for all involved.

As soon as you spot the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction, it’s time to act accordingly. For further guidance on approaching alcoholism at home, or for support with finding a rehabilitation centre, feel free to contact our team.  


Last updated 28th April 2021