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November 20, 2014 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Mental Health

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Is it ok to stay in a relationship with an Alcoholic?

Question:

I am presently in a relationship with a wonderful man to whom I am engaged. We have been dating a short time and I am aware that he has an addiction to alcohol and chewing tobacco. He is well aware that he needs to change these behaviors. He has gone to AA meetings, and been in therapy with an Employee Assistance Program. He was verbally and physically abused as a child. He has an addictive personality but is very loving and says he wants to change. I am trying to convince him to go into therapy since he relapses often when trying to quit. What can I do to help...I know something is eating him inside.

Penny (26 year-old woman) from South Carolina

Answer:

It seems there are two issues here. First, you stated that he is aware he needs to change. You have to ask yourself what has he done to change. What treatment is he in currently? Has he pursued a relapse prevention program? Has he made a phone call? In short, what efforts has he made to get clean and sober. His childhood abuse and the "addictive personality" ideas seem to be excuses to not change more than anything else. Consider the idea that he is making lifestyle choices rather than being some victim of a disease. If he is not taking action and you are still hanging in this relationship it is clear that his being sober is not all that important to you.

This ties into the second issue. Why are you in a relationship with a guy who has to change so much? Why not find someone who is healthy? He may be a wonderful loving individual but, quite frankly, how much of your life do you want to spend with the hoping, the disappointment, the frustration, the despair, and more while you continue to hope that somehow he will get into recovery and become healthy. He isn't that great of a guy if he is not taking action to get and stay in recovery. And your loving, caring and mothering is not going to change things. The situation may temporarily change but you can't help him. If he knows where a treatment center is, if he knows where to go to learn about relapse prevention and he doesn't pursue it you should not be on a rescue mission.

Why do you suppose he is such a nice guy? He has you hooked doesn't he? He has you wanting to know how to help him. He has you doing more for his recovery than he has done. You said he "says he wants to change." The key is what has he done. If he has not done anything substantial, drop him. If he is not willing to spend the next two years getting life, separate from you, before you and he pursue a serious relationship, drop him. Get on with your life and find someone healthy if he is not willing to build a healthy lifestyle.

Good Luck,

Thomas H Schear

This question was answered by Thomas H Schear. Dr. Schear has over 20 years experience as a front line counselor, clinical supervisor, program director and college instructor. Currently he provides online and telephone counseling service as well as home-study and online course for the helping professional from his website.

For more information visit the site or compact information page on QueenDom.

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