Why is he an alcoholic?

“Why?” is a meaningless question. No husband, wife or child have ever made their loved one an alcoholic – the alcoholic does it all by him/herself. The alcoholic may keep telling you its your fault but it’s not!  However, you may contribute deepening and strengthening the addiction. This is called ‘enabling’.

Below, is some advice I found from Al-Anon (an organisation for relatives of alcoholics, that collaborates with AA) which I found very helpful;

  1. Don´t try to control your alcoholic, no one can. You will feel a lot better when you stop trying.
  2. Do not take over his or her responsibilities – the alcoholic might begin to grow up when they have to take full responsibility for their addiction and the problem it causes.
  3. Refuse to be a victim – that role is equally destructive as the role of the alcoholic.
  4. Think more about yourself – take more responsibility for yourself and the other non-addicted people around you.
  5. Refuse to be an “enabler” for continued abuse through comforting the alcoholic, calling their job, to lie etc. Instead you should say “That´s your responsibility!”
  6. Don´t protect your alcoholic from the consequences of his/her drinking. “Pain is the biggest gift” – many alcoholics are not willing to do anything about the alcohol problem before they reach the bottom. If you protect an alcoholic from the pain you delay the recovery.

The only person any of us ever actually can hope to change is ourselves. If there is a change, relationships with other people will, with all certainty, also change. To change means that you will experience something new, different and unknown. Because of that we all are afraid of changes in some degree. If you accept the condition that the only person, in the problematic relation you can change is you, and that you are willing to actually make an effort in order to change, you have the power to change the direction of your life radically. The following six stages are fundamental when you want to liberate yourself from the destructive aspects of living with an addictive person:

  1. Stop taking responsibility for what your addictive relative or friend does. As long as you make it easy for the alcoholic to drink in an irresponsible manner, through cleaning up the tracks and carrying out his/her duties, you cannot begin to grow and change the way you want to.
  2. Stop letting yourself be abused, both physically and mentally by your alcoholic friend or partner. To let yourself be abused means that you strengthen the feeling of indignation, but it also brings insufficient personal strength, dignity and self-respect. Therefore, it is time for you to stop being a punchbag. Each time the alcoholic tries to abuse you, you must act, in one way or another, to prevent this abuse (even if it means that you have to go to the police or staying out of those situations).
  3. Get a life outside the addictive relationship. You need to break free from the isolation that the alcoholic has put you in. In order to feel better, do interesting things, have fun – try to change despite the fact that you´ve chosen to continue living with the alcoholic – you have to live your life another way. Do things together with others or on your own.
  4. Find and preserve new relationships. In close relation to stage three, is the requirement that you begin to develop new relationships. This can be particularly difficult since it requires that you take initiatives on your own. You must meet and get to know new people. You probably also will be forced to revaluate your bonds with old friends, relatives and family. Organisations like Al-Anon can be an excellent starting point in your search for new friends who are willing to share their strength, their understanding and their sympathy.
  5. Improve your physical shape. Constructive change must include that you protect your physical health and well-being. That means, among other thing, diet, exercise and hygiene.
  6. Make changes every day. It is important that you work with the five previous stages every day in order to get any results. It will take time and energy, but it´s worth it in the long run.

Good luck and take care of yourself.

4 thoughts on “Why is he an alcoholic?”

  1. This is by far the single most important advice about living with an alcoholic: develop your own self. I went back to school several years ago…and after I graduated, my alcholic went into treatment. He continues to struggle in his sobriety. There are no quick fixes. When he falls down, he gets back up. It has been extremely difficult. EXTREMELY. It does not work when I try to fix him. I can only fix myself….and our daughter continues to make plans for her life, as well. We cannot stop living because we live with an alcoholic. The feeling of isolation and feeling cloistered comes with living with an alcoholic. You want to hide. You do not want anyone to know about your private life. There is a feeling of deep shame. There are more people out there who have similar situations. Just be open to share. It’s part of the human condition. We do not grow in dark caves. Go to an Al-Anon meeting and you will hear the story of your own life, with strangers telling it.

  2. A 8 years of living with an alcoholic who does little to help themselves with the addiction, or excesses has he puts it, why as many friends and family ask, do I stay with him? I have love for this man, but the relationship is sad, stagnate and is like living in a cave. You say some of us have to do it? Maybe I am not one of the some of us.

  3. My question on this original post: how do you stop being abused when it is he who is abusing – verbally, mentally, sometimes pushing and shoving. How do I stop him from called me names in front of my kids. If I say “you must stop saying those things to me” – he ridicules me on top of the cursing and name-calling. If I leave the room, he follows me. He sometimes grabs me and forces me to stay by him so he can shout obscenities at me. I don’t know how one “stops allowing abuse”.

    1. Hi M,

      I put a post up today that might help. When I would see the warning signs brewing I would find an excuse to get out of the house with the children – I’d bring them to the park or go to the store. By the time I would return he would have calmed or have drank himself into a coma. Explain to your kids (not with the alcoholic present) after they witness something like this that it is not okay for Daddy to act like that, he is doing so because he drank too much and you are going to talk to him about his bad behaviour when he stops drinking or when he wakes up. If he is physically violent you need to start working on an exit plan asap.

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