ELLEN L. DONALDSON, M.H.R.
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LIVING IN A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH A CHEMICALLY DEPENDENT PERSON
The unpredictability of a chemically dependent person’s behavior often causes those close to him/her to live in chronic stress. Stress can cause numerous physical problems, including neckaches, backaches, stomach and digestive problems, skin rashes, sleep disturbances, appetite problems, heart problems, etc. If you answer “yes” to many of these questions, please get help for yourself. Al-Anon is a free support group for people impacted by a chemically dependent person. For meetings in your area, visit
Note: The term “drinker” can be easily substituted for drug addict. The correct reference is to alcohol and other drugs, since alcohol, itself is a chemical/drug.
n Does the drinking behavior of your drinker embarrass you?
n Do you try to deny the problem exists by ignoring or rationalizing it?
n Do you live in fear or anxiety about what’s going to happen to you or your drinker because of the drinking?
n Do you try to give yourself hope by thinking, ‘Maybe it will get better,” or ‘‘maybe it isn’t as bad as I thought’?
n Do you feel disappointed when your hope is proved false?
n Do you feel guilty, to blame, or at fault for the unacceptable behavior of your drinker?
n Do you feel isolated or alienated from your drinker?
n Do you have mood swings from elation to depression for no apparent reason?
n Have you felt anger or hostility toward the drinker?
n Do you get revolted or disgusted by your drinker’sdrinking behavior?
n Do you desire to, or actually protect the drinker from the consequences of his or her drinking behavior?
n Do you feel a special pity or sympathy for the drinker when he is unhappy or ill?
n Are you preoccupied or obsessed with, the drinker’s drinking to the point where you can’t think about anything else?
n Do you feel continuous worry or panic, or rage (for periods of time) about your welfare or the welfare of others in your family?
n Have you felt frustrated, empty, or drained physically and emotionally?
n Have you felt hostile toward all drugs and related activities?
n Have you felt unwilling or unable to talk to other people about the problem in your home caused by drinking?
n Have you felt as if your drinker completely dominates your life?
n Have you taken over roles the drinker used to have in the family?
n Have you had less regard for your appearance than you used to?
n Do you tend to disregard your feelings, or discount your opinions?
n Have you had temper tantrums, or scolded or nagged yourself into quarrels with your drinker?
n Have you consciously avoided drinking occasions?
n Have you lied to, and about, the drinker?
n Have you hidden, or thrown away, alcohol to control the drinking of your drinker?
n Have you increased your alcohol or drug abuse?
n If there are children involved, do they often ‘‘take sides’’ with either you or the drinker?
n Do you lose sleep because of the drinker's drinking?
n Have you noticed physical symptoms in yourself, such as nausea, a “knot” in your stomach, ulcers, sweating palms, bitten fingernails, and unusual weight gain or weight loss?
ELLEN L. DONALDSON, M.H.R., LMFT, LADC