The definition of alcoholism can vary from person to person. It is defined by Miriam Webster as continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks. Or, a chronic disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction.
(For me personally an alcoholic is anyone that depends on it. It is someone who needs it to get through a day, or week. It is someone who binge drinks. None the less, it is anyone dependent on it or its effects.)
It is important for family, friends, and loved ones of an alcoholic to realize that they can not fix, cure, or control the disease. The alcoholic must decide for themselves to quit, bottom line.
You can however find support by attending Al-Anon meetings in your area. Al-Anon is a 12-Step program modeled on the well-known program for alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous. It provides wonderful support for families of alcoholics. These support groups offer a lot, and will help keep you sane while battling such a nasty disease.
If there are addiction signs such as regular consumption or binge drinking, it is important to know what role you play in disease progression. Alcoholics tend to surround themselves with like-minded people or people who will enable them. By enabling them we allow the disease to progress further.
Friends, family, and loved ones of an alcoholic often fall in to one of the three categories below. Many do not realize that they are actually contributing to the disease.
The rescuer basically “covers” for the alcoholic. This person will clean up after the alcoholic, deny the problem, and hide the issue. They may take over responsibilities for the alcoholic such as finances, and other areas. The rescuer feels that he/she is protecting the alcoholic. When in reality, covering up and covering for the alcoholic is only contributing to the problem. The rescuers are in denial, therefor they lie to themselves and lie for the alcoholic.
The provoker is one who will punish, chastise, and ridicule the drunken behavior. The provoker doesn’t care who hears, and will tell everyone what an awful person this alcoholic is. The provoker is angry, and the anger brews. The provoker often leaves the alcoholic over time. And takes a grudge with him/her when he/she goes.
The martyr is ashamed of the alcoholic and his/her behavior. The martyr speaks of their misery in dealing with the situation or withdraws completely. The martyr tries to get the alcoholic to feel guilty for his/her behavior by using emotions and feelings as a tool. What the martyr doesn’t realize is that the only emotions and feelings that can be seen, felt, or heard by an alcoholic is their own. The martyr is often at risk for depression.
It is very important to seek help if you are battling this disease with a friend, family member, or loved one. Although we can’t control the alcoholic or the disease we can control ourselves. By seeking help we can prevent ourselves from being destroyed by the disease.
Their disease is not our fault but if we allow it to dictate our life and happiness, then that is our fault.