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Alcoholic Boyfriend

answered 01:20 PM EST, Sat August 24, 2013
My boyfriend drinks very heavy. its gotten to the point where he needs it every night and when he's off of work he can't stop. He's fighting with his parents and I. When he's this way he can admit to having a drinking problem, but he he's sober he doesn't think he has one and won't go to AA or back to rehab. What is it that we are doing wrong? We have tried everything to get him to go to rehab. Please help

Anna Deeds Says...

Anna Deeds A. Deeds
MSED, NCC, LPC

Thank you for your question. It is not that you are doing anything wrong. Alcoholism is a tricky disease. It is a disease that part of the symptoms is telling yourself you don't have a disease. Your boyfriend has to stop lying to himself and admit he has a problem with drinking before he will get help. Unfortunately, you can't make him do that. You can't make another person do anything. Everyone has free will and no matter what you do, your boyfriend may choose to continue drinking. The only thing you can change is your behavior.

You can refuse to enable him with his drinking. Enabling is any behavior that helps an alcoholic person continue to drink. I'm sure that you don't intentionally do anything to help him drink but some of the things you do may be misinterpreted by your boyfriend as giving him permission to drink. To an alcoholic person, anything you do that doesn't actively dissuade his drinking can be interpreted as it being OK to drink. 

To stop enabling, you have to make it clear to him that you believe he is an alcoholic and you will no longer do anything to help him get alcohol or sit by while he drinks. You won't purchase alcohol for him, you won't drink with him and you won't be around him when he drinks. If you give him an ultimatum that you will leave him if he continues to drink, you have to be prepared to leave and you have to be prepared that he may choose alcohol.

I know seeing him destroy his life with alcohol is a difficult thing to do. Leaving him may be just as difficult if not harder. I suggest you start by going to Al-anon meetings. The meetings will help you cope with the pain of loving someone who has the disease of Alcoholism. You can meet people who will relate to what you are experiencing. They will teach you about enabling and why it doesn't help your loved one. They will support you as you go through the process of ending enabling behaviors. If his parents are willing to go to Al-anon, this may help them to stop enabling him too.

I hope this helps answer your question. I wish you good luck with whatever choices you make.

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Page last updated Aug 24, 2013

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