Living With An Alcoholic: How to Cope

It is estimated that in England alone, there are over 586,000 dependent drinkers. Living with an alcoholic can be incredibly distressing, and it can be difficult to know what to do if you’re desperate to help, but your loved one doesn’t want to open up or seek support.

If you’re living with an alcoholic parent, wife, husband, friend or child, rehab or detoxing are usually the most recommended action. This guide will provide advice to help you cope. 

Spotting the signs: how do you know if you’re living with an alcoholic?

Man sitting by the side of the road drinking alcohol from a bottle

In 2018, 82% of the adult population drank alcohol, with half drinking at least once a week.

Drinking is common, but there’s a significant difference between enjoying a pint on a Friday evening and having an addiction to alcohol.

If you’re living with an alcoholic, you might not even know it. It can be difficult to spot the signs, and you might find yourself making excuses for a loved one’s behaviour or trying to persuade yourself that the person you care for doesn’t have a problem with alcohol.

Some common signs that you may notice if you’re living with an alcoholic partner or parent include:

  • Drinking alone
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Becoming secretive and telling lies 
  • Becoming withdrawn and socialising less frequently
  • Money problems
  • Lack of energy and enthusiasm
  • Waking up late and experiencing signs of a hangover
  • Concealing bottles and tins
  • Making excuses not to go out or spend time with you

How to live with an alcoholic

If you’re living with an alcoholic parent, partner or friend, you may be worried about your own safety and wellbeing, as well as that of your loved one.

It’s natural to be anxious and scared, especially if your partner or parent has become abusive or aggressive, or their health seems to be deteriorating. If you think you might be living with an alcoholic, here are some steps to take:

Consider your own safety

If you live with children or pets, or you’re worried about your safety, it may be necessary to think about relocating temporarily or seeking professional advice and support.

The effects of living with an alcoholic can be far-ranging, and you must make sure that you look after yourself and any others in the household. 

Try not to enable

If you’re living with an alcoholic partner, parent or friend you might assume that you’re helping them out if they’re begging you to bring them a drink or buy them alcohol from the local shop.

It can be incredibly challenging to say no, but if you can start to break the cycle, this will have a positive impact.

Limit access to money

The cost of alcohol addiction can spiral quickly. If you’re living with an alcoholic husband or wife, and you have a joint bank account or access to credit cards, take steps to protect your accounts and prevent your partner from spending money on alcohol. 

Approach the subject tactfully

Watching a loved one drink too much and bear the consequences can be heart-wrenching, and it’s normal to experience a whole range of emotions as a child, parent or partner.

If you do feel that a friend or a spouse is struggling, and you want to help, approach the subject very carefully. There is no guidebook on how to live with an alcoholic wife, and people respond differently to questions and offers of support.

Try and encourage your partner or family member to open up and ensure that they are able to trust you. Make it clear that you are there to help, and that you will be there to support them if and when they are ready to take the first step. 

Living with an alcoholic in denial

Living with an alcoholic son, daughter, partner or parent can be difficult enough, but life becomes even harder when the individual refuses to accept that they need help.

If you’re living with an alcoholic partner or parent in denial who is pretending that everything is fine, it’s advisable to:

  • Try and talk when your loved one is sober
  • Stay calm, be kind and patient and let the person know that you’re worried about them and you only want to help
  • Research alcohol abuse, charities and support systems and be willing to talk to your loved ones about the help that is available to them
  • Listen
  • Speak to your loved ones about how their actions are affecting you and your family
  • Try not to attribute blame, especially if there are bumps in the road when living with a recovering wife or husband
  • Be prepared to seek professional help

Young children and teenagers will need support from family members. If you’re worried about a child living with an alcoholic parent, for example your niece or nephew, it’s wise to speak to the parent to offer to care for the child temporarily and to look into external support systems and groups and charities that can help.

According to Nacoa (National Association for Children of Alcoholics), around 1 in 5 UK children are living with a parent that drinks excessively. 

Couple sitting on the bench after an argument


Living with an alcoholic can be especially tough, but there is help and support out there. If you’re worried about a loved one, and they’re not willing to ask for help, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Alcohol rehab is one of the best outcomes for your loved one battling alcohol addiction before they become a statistic. Even simply detoxing from alcohol can have a dramatic effect if done correctly. Find out more about the cost of rehabilitation and seek expert support before undertaking a detox from drug or alcohol. Contact us for free advice today.

Latest News


Get a no-obligation confidential advice from our medical experts today

Request a call back