living with an alcoholic uk family

Almost a quarter of UK adults exceed the recommended weekly intake of alcohol. Statistics suggest that over half a million people in England are alcohol-dependent, with only 18% seeking treatment. Living with an alcoholic can be a terrifying experience for partners, children and parents. If you’re struggling to cope with living with an alcoholic in the UK, hopefully, you’ll find this guide helpful.

How much is too much? How do I know if I’m living with an alcoholic?

Many of us like to enjoy a drink with our partners and friends, and sometimes, it can be difficult to spot the difference between somebody who enjoys a drink and an individual who has developed a dependency or an addiction. If you think you might be living with an alcoholic husband in the UK, or you’re concerned about your wife, child or parent, there are some signs to look out for. Individuals may display the following:

  • Using alcohol to cope with a hard day or bad news
  • Drinking larger quantities of alcohol or drinking more frequently than usual
  • Hiding bottles or cans
  • Spending more time at home and drinking alone
  • Seeing friends less often
  • Lying about spending money or buying or consuming alcohol
  • Mood swings
  • Hangover symptoms and a loss of energy, enthusiasm and motivation
how to live with an alcoholic family together

What are the next steps? How to live with an alcoholic

If you think you might be living with an alcoholic parent or partner, it can be very difficult to know what to do for the best. You want to help that person, but what if you’re living with an alcoholic husband in denial, or your parent or child doesn’t want to talk whenever you try and approach the subject? There is no right answer when it comes to how to live with an alcoholic wife or child, but there are steps you can take to try and support your loved one and protect yourself. These include:

  • Making sure you and others in your household are safe: if you have children, or you’re worried about a partner getting violent or aggressive, remove yourself from the situation as a priority and look into help and support systems, for example, your GP, social services and charities. 
  • Try and talk: living with an alcoholic partner or parent can be challenging, and you might not know what kind of reaction you’ll get when you try and talk about your loved one’s drinking. Approach the conversation when they are sober, be gentle, make time to listen, as well as talk, and let that person know that you are there to help and support them. There is no guidebook for how to live with an alcoholic husband or parent. Some people may be relieved that you’ve come to them, while others might get angry or upset. It can be particularly difficult if you’re living with an alcoholic husband in denial or a friend that refuses to admit that they’re drinking more than usual. Be patient, keep trying to encourage them to open up, and be prepared to step in when they are ready.
  • Avoid enabling: if you’re living with an alcoholic mother, father or partner, you might feel like you’re helping them out by giving them money or buying the odd can of beer from the supermarket. The truth is that enabling drinking will make the situation worse. Be strong, and learn to say no. This can be very challenging, especially if your loved one gets upset or becomes angry or abusive, but every hurdle you put in the way will help in the long-term. Change your routine and socialising and shopping habits to try and reduce drinking, and restrict access to cash. 
  • Research: it can be very difficult to understand what people are going through when they’re drinking too much and they become dependent on alcohol. Research alcohol abuse, read up on the symptoms, seek advice from charities and health professionals and look into treatments, therapies and support systems that could help. If you can demonstrate that you have an understanding of what alcohol dependence is and you can talk about treatments, your loved one may come around to the idea of opening up to you and asking for help. 

What can I do if I’m living with an alcoholic in denial?

Many people who drink excessively don’t recognise that they have a problem. Coming to terms with this can be extremely hard. Keep talking to your loved one, be patient and be prepared to take action if you’re worried for your safety, their symptoms are getting worse or they have become violent or abusive. If you’re living with an alcoholic son, you’re living with a recovering alcoholic wife, or you’re scared for the safety of a family member or a neighbour, there are people and organisations that can help. It’s particularly distressing to see a child living with an alcoholic parent, but sadly, statistics suggest that 1 in 5 UK children live with an alcoholic adult.  The effects of living with an alcoholic can be long-lasting, and the earlier an individual gets help, the better. 

Living with an alcoholic Summary

Living with an alcoholic can turn your world upside down. If you’re worried about a loved one, or you need advice to help you cope with living with an alcoholic husband, wife or parent, don’t hesitate to seek support. 

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