I’m Frightened for the Alcoholic/Addict I Know. What Can I Do?

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Alcoholism and addiction can be frightening things to witness. Not only are they devastating to the person suffering from the disease, but they are often just as devastating to all who care for that person as well. It is a tragic disease and painful for everyone involved. Thankfully, there’s a solution that is easily available to anyone who is ready, earnest, and willing to ask for help. 

12-Step fellowships exist almost everywhere, hiding in plain sight. They can easily be found in your local area by a quick internet search. There are also places to go for formal help in recovering from alcoholism and addiction. Jaywalker Lodge is one of those places. We are heavily based upon the 12-Step program of recovery, with an active community of recovering men around us. But what about those who know and love someone suffering from alcoholism or addiction? What can we do in this scary situation?

Don’t Blame Yourself

Watching someone suffer through alcoholism or addiction can be heart-wrenching. Ultimately we cannot blame ourselves, especially not for things like failing to recognize the telltale signs or force our loved one to get help. Alcoholics and addicts often go to great lengths to keep their disease hidden, and help is usually only successful when they finally ask for it themselves. Don’t blame yourself, but even more importantly, find whatever ways you can to be more loving toward yourself and the suffering person in your life. Try not to enable them or let them take advantage of you, but be as kind as you can to them and kind to yourself, too. When you are able, forgive them and forgive yourself. Freedom begins in love and forgiveness.

Strengthen Yourself However You Can

Alcoholics and addicts burn bridges often and wear themselves down. It can be terrifying for those of us who love them. They are suffering from a disease that is often difficult to understand for anyone who doesn’t have it themselves or isn’t in recovery. If the hoped-for day comes when the sufferer in your life asks for help, they will be met with a vibrant community of recovering people to support them every step of the way. As we wait, it would be wise to bolster our own spirits in any way we can.

Alcoholism and addiction can run down the sufferer as much as it can the people around them. We won’t be much good to them — or to ourselves and the other people in our lives who need us — if we allow ourselves to be depleted fully by the alcoholic or addict we love. We must take care of ourselves if we are to be there for them when they finally seek help, and just as importantly, for ourselves and everyone else in our life who relies on us. If we are part of a religious organization, it might serve us well to lean on our faith and practice during this difficult time. We can also try things like meditation to keep our mental and emotional health balanced.

Even simple things can get overlooked when we are terribly worried or frightened for a loved one. Things like remembering to drink water, go for a walk, eat healthy food, and other basic self-care tasks can easily get pushed to the side or forgotten. Doing our best to maintain our basic self-care routine and take care of ourselves can do wonders for our spirit and energy.

Seek Help for Yourself

It may seem counterintuitive when we know someone with alcoholism and addiction who is suffering to consider getting help for ourselves. After all, we aren’t the one with the problem — or are we? We are frightened, worried sick, and feeling helpless, but at least we recognize there is a problem. It may still be some time before the alcoholic or addict we care about admits they have a problem. But we already have, so maybe it would serve us best if we sought help.

It’s important to lean on our community of friendship and support during any times of trouble or turmoil, though having a loved one with alcoholism or addiction can be a hard thing to share with others. If we are able to be open and honest with them and we feel like they could understand, then by all means we should. Whether or not we can share with our community, it would also be a good idea to look into regular sessions with a therapist for ourselves. It can be beneficial to have regular meetings with a therapist as we navigate this terrible experience. They often have helpful insights to keep us afloat and can possibly help us understand more about what our loved one is suffering.

Last, and most important of all, there is an entire 12-Step fellowship built entirely for those who love an alcoholic or addict. They can be found just as easily by a quick internet search. By adapting the same 12-Step program for the loved ones of alcoholics and addicts, they have helped countless people recover and live full, happy lives while being close to someone afflicted by the disease. Many could benefit from engaging with this fellowship that relates so intimately and helps each other through similar experiences.

Alcoholism and addiction aren’t only devastating for those who have the disease, but for all who know and love them. We watch them suffer and hope that they will finally admit their problem and seek the help available to them. For those of us who love an alcoholic or addict, there is help available for us, too. No matter what side of the coin we find ourselves on, we must never allow ourselves to lose hope. We can take comfort in being able to grow through difficult times, try our best to be loving, and seek help for ourselves. When your loved one is ready to enter recovery for alcoholism or addiction, Jaywalker Lodge is here for you. We specialize in helping those who have struggled to maintain their sobriety, despite an earnest desire to do so. To learn more about our programs for men, call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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