Supporting a partner with alcoholism as Ben Affleck opens up about his dependency


Six years on from their split in June 2015, Ben Affleck has opened up about his marriage with Jennifer Garner, claiming he turned to alcohol because he felt ‘trapped’ in the relationship.

Ben opened up to host Jimmy Kimmel about his battle with alcoholism, saying he would drink as a coping mechanism “what I did was I drank a bottle of Scotch and fell asleep on the couch, which turned out not to be the solution.” The Oscar-winner Ben admitted to receiving treatment for his alcohol addiction in 2001 and 2017.

Dealing with an alcoholic partner is not easy; that’s why the team of addiction specialists from Private Rehab Clinic Delamere have shared their tips on living with an alcoholic.

The full content is available below or in a Google Document format on request.

How to deal with an alcoholic partner 

Dealing with an alcoholic partner is not easy; an alcoholics behaviour and actions make little logical sense to others, they are often selfish and inconsiderate.

Many people who live with an alcoholic do not fully understand the nature of this insidious disease. Naturally, they think they can help the person to recover and that if the alcoholic loved them, they would stop drinking.

The truth of addiction is that a sufferer is unlikely to want to stop and accept help until they reach a crisis point; commonly referred to as a ‘rock bottom’.

Living with an alcoholic – What to do and what not to do

For the sake of your own well-being and sanity there are certain things that you should and should not do if you live with an alcoholic

What not to do if you live with an alcoholic

  • Do not enable their alcoholism
  • Do not save them from consequences
  • Do not suffer in silence
  • Do not be alone
  • Do not sacrifice your own wellbeing for theirs
  • Do not take responsibility for getting them well
  • Do not ignore the problem
  • Do not fund their alcohol addiction
  • Do not be their nursemaid
  • Do not be afraid to issue ultimatums if it becomes to much for you
  • Do not waste your breath pleading with them to stop
  • Do not pour alcohol away, they will only buy more
  • Do not tolerate bad behaviour
  • Do not tolerate aggression or violence
  • Do not stop them accessing alcohol if they are alcohol dependent (this can result in life threatening alcohol withdrawal)

What to do if you live with an alcoholic

  • Do seek help and support for yourself
  • Do take responsibility for your own wellbeing
  • Do implement boundaries
  • Do ensure your own safety
  • Do encourage them to seek professional help
  • Do educate yourself and them on what alcoholism is
  • Do take responsibility for minors within your care
  • Do speak to family and friends
  • Do try to detach emotionally as much as you can
  • Do challenge their drinking
  • Do things for yourself that increase your own self esteem
  • Do walk away if they become aggressive or you feel overwhelmed
  • Do call them out on their lies, broken promises and behaviour
  • Do tell them how their alcoholism affects you and others

Forms of enabling your alcoholic partner may include:

  • Calling in sick to work for them when they are drunk or nursing a hangover
  • Giving them money to buy alcohol
  • Pay their bills as they have spent their money in alcohol
  • Support them financially whilst they sit at home drinking
  • Make excuses for their drunken behaviour
  • Often buying them alcohol
  • Keep their drinking a secret from family and close friends at their request
  • Continually saving them from natural consequences that arise out of their drinking and behaviour
  • Putting their wants before your own needs (codependency)
  • Allowing them to manipulate you to lie for them, cover up for them, or give them money
  • Turning a blind eye to their drinking and behaviour as it is easier than challenging them
  • Continually forgiving them, or giving them lots of chances over the same damaging repeated behaviour

Does my alcoholic partner treatment? 

Some alcoholics are able to stop drinking in the community with the help of their local drug and alcohol team or a mutual aid support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

However, it is important to recognise when and if your alcoholic partner needs rehab treatment and an inpatient detox.

It is not always possible or safe for an alcoholic to stop drinking without intensive medical and therapeutic intervention.

Your alcoholic partner needs rehab urgently if :

  • They are unable to stop drinking despite trying various methods
  • They are alcohol dependent and show withdrawal symptoms when they have run out of  alcohol or have not yet drank enough. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are very dangerous, they are resolved once an alcohol dependent person has consumed enough alcohol to match their level of dependency
  • They have lost their driving licence or a job as a result of their drinking
  • They are a danger to themselves or others
  • They are seriously unwell through drinking
  • They are addicted to more than just alcohol making an alcohol detox more complex and dangerous, (i.e: alcohol and prescription drugs or alcohol and drugs)
  • They have health conditions that would complicate a detox in the community
  • They have lost complete control over their drinking
  • They are deeply depressed, anxious or have suicidal thoughts
  • They have previously made an attempt at taking their own life

Tips on encouraging an alcoholic partner to seek help:

  • We suggest that you pick a time when they are not heavily intoxicated to discuss your concerns regarding their drinking. Pick a time when you also feel emotionally calm and in control. The conversation is less likely to get out of hand or end badly this way.
  • Pre-plan what you need to say. This way you are less likely to react emotionally or become side tracked by their response. Having details of a suitable treatment programme will also be very useful. You can call us here at Delamere for advice on the best alcohol treatment plan for your partners individual treatment needs.
  • Give clear and definite examples of times when your partners alcoholism has affected you and others
  • Tell them you know how much they drink, i.e you have found empties in the car, garage or hidden around the house
  • Tell them how their drinking affects you on a daily basis, of the fear and stress their drinking puts you under.
  • Tell them what you know of alcoholism – That alcoholism is medically recognised as a psychiatric illness and disease of the brain. That hardly anyone can recover without help and that they will only ever get worse over time.
  • Encourage them to tell family and close friends about their struggles with alcohol
  • Give them hope. Tell them that their condition is treatable with the right help and support
  • Encourage them to accept alcohol treatment. Tell them you will support them in getting the right help but that you can no longer support them inactive addiction.
  • Encourage your alcoholic partner to call us here at Delamere, where our professional addiction treatment counsellors are in recovery themselves; they have overcome their own battles with addiction. Your partner may be more inclined to be honest with someone who understands their alcoholism but is not affected by it.
  • If the conversation escalates and they become defensive or angry, leave the conversation and try again another time.
  • If they are unwilling to accept that they have a problem or are unwilling to accept help, we suggest you put in place some clear boundaries where you will no longer enable their drinking or addiction behaviours
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