Sheltering-in-Place with an Alcoholic

Social distancing. Loneliness. Isolation. These terms are familiar to those living with an alcoholic. Holed up in basements, man caves, anyplace in their home that lets them drink in secrecy, the alcoholic retreats from society, their family and friends.

As officials continue to advise people to shelter-in-place in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, it’s become a strange but necessary lifestyle as we attempt to limit our exposure and reduce the risk of infection. It’s also a lifestyle that loved ones of alcoholics have observed up close.

Other than a trip to the supermarket for food and essentials—and in many states, liquor stores are considered essential businesses, so the alcoholic will be able to get alcohol—what will you do at home? Now that most of us are sheltering-in-place, will worlds collide?

For those sharing a home with an alcoholic, find your space and focus on yourself.

  • Unless your state dictates otherwise and weather allows, take a walk on the beach, bike ride around the neighborhood, hike a local trail—maintaining your distance from others.
  • Keep busy, mentally and physically. This is an opportunity to write, read, paint, draw, exercise, organize that kitchen drawer, bake a pie.
  • Watch those movies that always seem to prompt others to say with a horrified look on their face: You haven’t seen _____?!  https://bit.ly/2U83sf7
  • Sit down in a comfy chair with a classic https://bit.ly/2J1HYdE
  • Binge any one of the amazing shows in this golden age of television –  Breaking Bad, The Crown, Mindhunter, Jack Ryan, Downton Abbey, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mad Men, Narcos–too many to list, though of course there are lists, here’s one   https://lat.ms/2JhSjT7   Old and new, alike. Give into a guilty pleasure and cue up Columbo and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I Love Lucy or Younger.  Or watch it again–Gilmore Girls, Seinfeld, Friends.
  • Take a long hot bath and don’t forget your favorite music and those guest soaps you’ve been saving.
  • Tackle your To-Do list.
  • Email an old friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Skype with family and close friends. Self-quarantining is an opportunity to connect.

Your spouse may treat sheltering-in-place as a license to drink, a bender for who knows how long. But you can treat this as an opportunity. After you’ve taken care of your responsibilities of family needs and working remotely, don’t let your downtime get you down – make it work for you.

Live safely. Stay healthy. Find joy. Be productive.



Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


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