Being with someone who drinks heavily or who is an alcoholic can be difficult, and you might not know how to react to the situation. You could be dealing with natural feelings of grief, stress, anger, sadness and other mixed emotions, and you could find yourself blaming yourself or struggling to communicate with your loved one about the problem. You should know that your loved one's alcohol problem is not your fault, but one way that you can make the situation better -- both for yourself and for your alcoholic loved one -- is to avoid being an enabler. Luckily, there are changes that you can make that will help you avoid enabling your loved one's dangerous behavior.
Don't Contribute Financially
Many alcoholics are unable to manage their finances. They might blow too much of their cash on alcohol, or they might miss work and have trouble holding down a job because of their drinking. Regardless, your loved one will need money to continue to finance his or her addiction, as well as to handle any consequences of his or her drinking, such as by paying legal fees and attorneys or covering rent after missing work.
You might feel as if you are helping by contributing financially to your loved one, but doing so can encourage his or her behavior. Make sure that you do not give your alcoholic loved one money or pay his or her legal fees. If your loved one has to deal with the very real financial consequences of his or her actions, it could cause him or her to realize just how dangerous this behavior really is.
Be Honest and Open
Many people dance around these problems and avoid mentioning them when communicating with a loved one with an alcohol problem. You might not want to tell your loved one that you think he or she has a problem, or you might avoid talking about your own feelings about this addiction. However, you have to communicate openly and honestly with your loved one about what you think and how you feel. Avoiding talking about these things is a form of covering up the problem and enabling it to continue in the same manner.
Get Help for Yourself
There are meetings and support groups out there for people who love alcoholics and drug addicts. Attending these meetings can help you feel less alone, and you can also learn tips for avoiding enabling behavior. Sometimes it's best to have an outside party to communicate with about these things.
Loving an alcoholic isn't easy. By avoiding enabling behavior, however, you can help both yourself and your loved one.