Stay or Leave?? Living with an alcoholic or addict means making tough decisions. This may help…

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Should I Stay or Leave?

September 11, 2012 by C. Scott McMillin

Always good to collect opinions from others. But when you feel you’ve talked to enough people, try applying ‘impact analysis’ to the issue.

Should I Stay or Leave?I’ve been with Tom for eleven years, and it seems like most of that time I have been wondering if I should leave. He’s a binge drinker who isn’t too bad much of the time but when he goes on a bender, watch out! After every binge I promise myself I’m going to leave so that eventually I can be happy. Then I change my mind a hundred times and think things will get better. Until the next time. This past year I’ve talked to a lot of people about it and they’ve been giving me good advice but I don’t seem to be able to make up my mind. What’s your advice?”

There’s actually a classic song by the Clash: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Sample lyrics: “This indecision’s killing me… if I go there will be trouble. If I stay it will be double.”

You’re apparently in the advice-gathering stage. Always good to collect opinions from others. But when you feel you’ve talked to enough people, try applying this ‘impact analysis’ to the issue.

Question: “If I left, what would be the likely impact in the following areas?”

Use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a big concern for you, and 1 being no concern at all. We’re more interested in the impact on you than the alcoholic.

Family reaction: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Financial status: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Dependent children: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your personal safety: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your emotional state: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

What others outside the family will think: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Living arrangements: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Now repeat the exercise, this time with a different question: “If I stay, what will be the likely impact in these areas?”

Family reaction: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Financial status: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Dependent children: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your personal safety: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Your emotional state: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

What others outside family will think: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

Living arrangements: 1   2    3   4    5   6   7   8   9   10

It does require a bit of thought. For instance, is there the potential for a domestic violence incident if you stay? Are there kids to consider? The exercise allows you to identify what’s most important to you – those are the issues that likely have you stuck in place.

It’s seldom an easy decision, and it deserves some careful analysis.

But here’s the homely truth: you can’t have it both ways. At some point, you have to decide.

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