Alcoholism and Addiction with Loved Ones
Interim Program Coordinator for StarVista’s DUI program, Bianca Sandoval, shares the ways alcoholism and addiction affects loved ones, along with ways you can support yourself and others who struggle to cope.
What are a few ways alcoholism and addiction affect family members, loved ones and spouses?
Alcoholism can distant the family from each other in many ways. It can build resentment and lead to burning bridges with close ones. It can create tension between individuals because of actions brought to the table due to ones’ alcoholism.
What can you do to protect your mental and emotional wellbeing if you are in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic?
One must always keep in mind that addicts and alcoholics need to come to terms with their addiction themselves. When we act as a support system, we need to have an open mind and understand that any progress that minimizes their intake is an accomplishment and should be celebrated. We need to bring to light the amazing individual they are, and by doing so, we encourage them to see their worth.
Are there specific boundaries spouses, children, parents and/or loved ones of addicts and alcoholics need to put up?
Don’t ever take anything personally. Practicing “I” statements allows us as support systems to really draw the line and see our part in the situation. Addicts and alcoholics will tend to find reasons to use, and as support systems we need to draw the fine line between being supportive and being co-dependent. When it comes to children, I believe that there should be strict boundaries implemented right away. Children need to be protected physically, mentally and spiritually. Seeing a parent constantly under the influence can cause many forms of trauma that can affect the child in their early adult years.
What is the role of Al-Anon/Narc-Anon and what other resources are available to families of addicts/alcoholics?
There are many resources out there for families of alcoholics and addicts. The best thing to do is support them with the things that you are asking of them. If you suggest that they go to AA or NA, support them by attending the meetings so you can see what they face. Sometimes attending meetings can be overwhelming. If we understand that we are really asking it is to attend meetings, drop their guard, ask for help, and be open minded. We too can understand that this takes a lot of energy to do and alcoholics and addicts are already private and avoid conversations surrounding their addiction. They are not going to want to see what might be on the other side. It sounds cliché, but sometimes we just want someone to hold our hand. We can do that for our family members and loved ones who are suffering.
What is the one thing spouses, children, parents and/or loved ones need to know about alcoholism and addiction?
It all takes time. One needs to be willing and open-minded. To be open-minded one must truly be honest with oneself. Even while acting as a strong support system, you cannot be the one to move the addict’s steps. They themselves have to want it.