Obsessing Over an Alcoholic-Breaking the Habit

Family members spend as much time obsessing over the behavior of an alcoholic as  “they” do thinking about where they will get the next drink. If you get the awareness on this point you will be on the road to changing your behaviors. Let’s try doing a short survey to see if you have an obsession problem.

1) Do you ever drive around looking for the alcoholic or their vehicle?

2) When the alcoholic doesn’t come home– do you begin to analyze them wondering if they have been drinking?

3) When you are near them-do you try to smell if they have the fragrance of alcohol on them?

4) When they tell you they are working late-do you obsess over whether they are lying or not?

5) Do you go through their things to see if they are hiding the booze somewhere?

6) Is there a level of constant anxiety and worry that they will be drunk during the day?

These are just a few of the things that will help you gauge whether or not you are obsessing over the alcoholic in your life. It’s a habit that can be broken. Breaking the habit will require changing your way of thinking and acting.

I have to tell you the funniest story…

When my wife was at the height of her addiction and always lying to get to the next party or place where she could have a drink, I did the funniest thing. She drove a small red two door Chevy Corvette convertible. One day as I was driving down a six lane highway in the city we lived in near Dallas Texas, I saw the car. The driver was going in the opposite direction and she looked like my wife. But wait… “my wife is supposed to be at work across on the other side of town??” I quickly did a U-turn and suddenly burst out laughing…I was driving the Corvette!

The obsessions that we are addicted to when our spouses or children are drinking alcohol daily are relentless. From the time we awaken we begin to obsess over them til we go to sleep at night. Sometimes we don’t sleep at all because we are pacing the floor while they are out at a party all night.

Here are a few steps for breaking the habit of obsessing over an alcoholic.

1) Learn how to talk a lot on the phone to friends. Preferably friends that you have made in the group meetings that you have been attending to help you get over the obsession with the alcoholic in your life.

2) Start doing things that you enjoy. Go to the movies, take long walks on the beach or buy tickets to the opera or something. Just get busy enjoying life and stop worrying about what the alcoholic/addict is doing all of the time.

3) Make a decision to stop engaging in the “double taking looks” when you see a car that your child or alcoholic spouse usually drives.

4) Don’t look at them when they walk in the door to see if they are drunk or not.

5) Read books when they come home to help you keep your attention on something other than them.

6) Let them go to live their life and then you start living yours. You are powerless over the alcoholic.

7) Just go to sleep when the alcoholic doesn’t come home late at night. There’s nothing you can do about their defiant attitude anyway other than protect yourself from becoming an emotional wreck…hopefully we can help teach you  how to do this.

The process of breaking the habit of obsessing over another’s behavior is going to take some work, besides they say that it takes twenty one days to break old habits. This obsession is something that you did not suddenly fall into and it’s going to take work to get out of doing it continually. Just take it one day at a time and soon you will notice that you have not been obsessing about what the alcoholic in your life is doing all the time.

Reader Shares Her Story…Please feel free to comment below!
I am so glad to have found this site; reading the article about MY obsession with the alcoholic was eye opening. My obsession drives me to look in every crevice of the apartment as soon as he is out of the door, or passed out. Repeatedly.Yesterday, after picking him up from work, he asked if I still had some rum left. MY obsession for knowing exactly what was left before I left for work and knowing exactly what was there when I got back came through for me again. You see – I had to know exactly what he wasdrinking (and therefore lying about). When I had gone to bed the night before, the bottle was about half full. When I left for work in the morning, the bottle had less than a swallow left, and all of the small bottles that he had bought for himself were gone. When I got home from work, the bottle was half full.My answer was, yes, there was some rum left, since he had been so kind to refill it earlier in the day. I was really surprised that he didn’t lay into me verbally for that little gem.My driving need to know is so wrong. No matter what – I’m never going to know the real truth, and it will just feed my fear, jealousy and contempt. It’s eating me alive, as much as the lies and nastiness that I’m bombarded with.

Although there are some serious issues within these four walls right now, my biggest problem is really a problem with me. Too much time and energy are being fed to this monster. I do need to claim my mind-space and peace of mind back.

I need me.

49 comments to Obsessing Over an Alcoholic-Breaking the Habit

  • maryfran07

    I’ve been around alcoholics my entire life. Somewhere along the way I lost myself. I have put all my effort in trying to control everyone and everything. When things don’t go the way they should (I have so many shoulds) then it is my fault. I am so sick and they do their thing and here I am, a basket case. I got some backbone and called the police to get my daughter out of my house. I told her she can move in IF she goes to treatment and she didn’t and I’m o.k. with that. The last 2 yrs. were spent being her caregiver as she was drunk and hit by a car on a major highway. She was not expected to live and she had to learn everything such as walking, colors, people etc. She went back to drinking after this horrible accident. What does her bottom have to be??!! I know I’ve got to get help soon or risk losing my mind. Like I said I don’t know who I am any more and I’ve got to find me.

  • Caitlyn

    Hello Reader, I hope this will help you. I have found that rather than ‘laying in wait’ to observe their alcohol consumption which totally consumes you, it is better to encourage openness from the alcoholic. Leave the bottle for all to see and say to the alcoholic “don’t lie, or understate how much you are drinking anymore. I know by now that you drink to excess. It doesn’t matter, I am here for you when and if you decide to do something about it. There is no purpose in covering up or lying. The covering up and lying is what will destroy our relationship, not your habit with the bottle.” Then encourage and praise openness and honesty at every opportunity from them. It will strengthen your love and bond to each other.

    By now, you would have worked out how much they consume. You knowing doesn’t change anything but it makes you bitter, disappointed, frustrated, cheated – any or all of these negative emotions. So don’t let the negative emotions control your mood, your health, you spiritually and your well being. It only puts you in a negative mindset which affects you all round, particularly spiritually. I have found it more helpful to accept this is the way it has been, how it is for now, maybe forever with them. It is more helpful to encourage honesty from them. Let them know you are their friend. Don’t judge them. Smile when they tell you how much they are drinking and thank them for being so honest.

    Pray quietly to yourself that they will come to decision one day to teetotal, but don’t expect it, don’t badger them to say they will when they aren’t ready. Let them decide for themselves, enough is enough and I’m really ready to do something about it. Genuinely for themselves not for others, to placate others. Of course, they may NEVER get to that point. You have to accept the fact they may never decide to quit drinking. It doesn’t change the other lovable things about them. The things that attract you to them and make you love them for the rest of themselves besides their bad drinking habit.

    Accepting the fact they may always be this way is beneficial to your well being. Best thing to do for yourself is to do something really joyous for you each day. Pick something that gives you great peace of mind and do a pleasurable thing for you and you alone, and this will help to keep your spirit strong and your heart happy.

    Blessings to you for sticking by them and being a wonderful friend to them. Look after yourself well so you can look after and love them too. God bless.

  • Louisa

    I have a “different” alcoholic. Mine rarely leaves the house, only drinks alone. Works from home, so he doesnt get into any trouble “out there”. Drinks about 2 bottles of wine 7 nights a week while watching tv……..and smokes pot. Does not smoke in front of me or around me. Very arrogant, controlling. It is a lonely life as he “checks out” at 4pm to start drinking and laying on couch to watch tv. Goes to bed at 7:30. There are no bars, or friends or driving. There is no passing out or crazy drunken behavior as he basically doesnt move for 4 hours until he goes to bed. I find it hard to find info on this type of alcoholic as all I read online and books is the stereotype of the loud, stumbling, dui, missing work kind of alcoholic. Yet my problems and misery with this spouse are just as real. Any comments anyone??

  • Caitlyn

    Hoping this helps you: …
    There is no ‘bottom’ with some. In our world they have clearly hit bottom and are as low as we perceive anyone capable of going. But to their distorted view through the bottle, it isn’t a ‘bottom’ or low, just another bump to drink their way through. They need to feed their urge of satisfying their quench for alcohol, so they drink to get blotto to deal with life the only way they have known for so long. This isn’t a life though is it? You and I know that. They don’t know this piece of wisdom and some never get it ever. We have to learn to live with that.

    So, do the things in life that help you enjoy living. Look to your past or childhood for answers if they aren’t apparent to you today. What activity did you enjoy as a child? Dancing, reading, walking the family dog? What have you daydreamed about of doing in recent times? Find it and do it. Start up a new hobby to meet new friends, lady friends. They don’t need to know your woes. Enjoy their company, chatter and banter. This is living and finding yourself again.

    Wishing you well in your quest of self-discovery.

    You get out there in the early evenings. As he’s checking out for the night at 4pm you go and take yourself off and away to visit a friend, family or join a club of some activity you enjoy. This can be your reality check out. Hope it helps you cope with the alcoholic in your life. You need to check in with real life people to help balance out your life. Love sent your way from me. Love life, love living.

  • Karen

    Louisa, For me, the garage is his safehaven. He has a TV out there, urinal, refrigerator for his precious beer and
    a telephone. The telephone is convenient for listening in
    on my phone conversations with friends. He sulks and twists the conversation into something that it is not, then
    starts an arguement when he comes in. Another method for controlling me. I have found there are somethings to be
    thankful for with a closet drinker. He is not driving, that is a big issue. In the garage he is not driving me crazy and I cope with it easier. When he comes in I deal with his nastiness until he either falls asleep or I go into the bedroom to read or think pleasant thoughts and to pray. Yes, I too get very lonely. I look for websights such as these for support as it is impossible to leave the
    house for support meetings. We all have a choice as to how
    we want to handle individual situations. I am not ready to leave him nor am I willing to start an arguement when
    I can find simpler ways to deal with the situation. I am
    not trying to be a pollyanna and do not hide from the fact that he is an alcoholic. He is choseing to live life miserably. I prefer the peace God gives my spirit to continue in His loving grace. That is where peace for us
    can be found Karen


    Hi there, i believe you could be causing yourself a world of hurt if you invest your energies into observing and getting worked up by the lies and deceit. They are after all a part of the problem. Try communicating and encouraging him to be open with his coming out with the details you need. I find that when you are cordial with the Alcoholic he will let you in on more secrets than you can imagine.Try being his “friend” and not his watchdog.

  • Louisa

    Karen, despite all our issues and loneliness, I do not understand how or why you allow to listen to your telephone conversations. Why don’t you tell him to get off the phone? So what if he starts an argument, apparently he does anyways so why give him the cheap spy thrill of crossing your personal bounderies? He is gettin his privacy from you by going into the garage and yet you allow him to violate your privacy from the garage. I’ve taken a lot of garbage from the alcoholic but that I would not tolerate.

  • Louisa

    Karen…….one more thought……do you tell whoever you are speaking to that they are being listened to by a third party? If you don’t you are violating their rights to privacy, and I find it hard to believe that anybody would continue to talk to you knowing that your husband is listening in. Can you get a cell phone? Or perhaps the two of you can just start talking directly to your husband and embarrass him for his blatant violation.
    Alcoholics are suspicious paranoid people. I have to take my cell phone and talk where he can’t hear me, because if he could he would listen to every word.

  • Karen

    Thankyou for your responses LOUISA and JAYHEM. Through
    the help of web sights such as this my eyes have been opened to a lot of things. Your comments are warranted
    and gets me to thinking of how and when I became a door
    mat and let my own life slip by. It is interesting to me
    that I was unhappy and to stand up in a kind way that maybe
    would help and not hinder. Again thanks for trying to open
    my eyes to things that I don’t want to see. Reality is
    hiding right under my nose and I had chosen to ignore it.
    NO one can get well by trying to hide or cover up the truth. I shall continue to work on me so the alcoholic has
    half a chance at recovery.

  • Louisa

    Please have courage and strength Karen, and I will try to also. Whatever happens happens.

  • maryfran07

    Louisa, my husband was like yours, was there in body but not emotionally which I found to be worse than being by myself. I chose to end the marriage and felt so much better without him. In my mind I divorced him way before I filed papers. We are very good friends now however his smoking pot and drinking have not stopped. Best of luck and hang in there God bless, maryfran07

  • Diana

    Louisa, My alcoholic does not appear drunk either, had a good job and was even good with his money. I think his lack of acting drunk shows his high tolerance for alcohol and that’s a big sign of alcoholism. He is also very controlling and arrogant, very defensive and content with his little routine of drinking and spending time alone in the garage with his beer and cigarettes. For me it is such feelings of rejection. His beer drinking starts around 2pm and go on until about 7pm. He began telling me that he didn’t want to eat dinner when I did because it was too early. 6pm is most people’s dinnertime. Of course he wouldn’t say that the real reason was because he wanted to drink according to his little regimented time frame. At first i would wait for him and then I realized I was enabling him and so I began to set my dinnertime for when I wanted it, 6pm. Then he started making comments about my weight and eating! It’s always my fault. He always finds ways to try to control me but never tries to control himself. Actually, when I think about it he does that with so many people. His father was alcoholic and it is a miserable life to live with him. He will even start arguments on the way home from church! He appears to be very devout in his faith but he has such anger and bitterness even though he says he loves me. He reduces me to tears on a regular basis and my heart has been broken from his drinking and rages to the point where my nerves are affected. I keep telling myself to go to al-anon to get in a support group. One day I will.

  • Louisa

    maryfran, thank you. I know I should leave but it’s the age old problem of money and housing. And yes I am much more lonely with him here on the couch than when he is gone. I am happy for you to have escaped.

    Diana, Thank you too. In regards to the dinner time, it’s because they don’t want to destroy their “buzz” with food. I eat by myself, and he starts picking at food about 7 when he’s done. He also takes a glass of wine to bed with him. I have a separate room. I couldnt handle the snoring and general obnoxious behavior anymore. I finally forced myself to go to alanon, and yes it is very hard to walk thru the doors the first time, but I will say it has saved my sanity. I am not a religious person but the principles they teach are very useful for all of life. Please go, the stories you will hear will save you. You are not alone. Also, there is an old book called Getting Them Sober. The title is misleading I think because it’s really about how to survive living with an alcoholic and how to survive the insanity of their personalities. I’ts probably one of the best books I have read, and I have them all. Also get the little book, One Day At A Time in Alanon. I have made new friends in Alanon and do not feel so isolated anymore. Not all of it pertains to my situation but I always get one helpful tidbit. Plus I get out of the house. But I know it is not easy, but I got to the point where I figured my life could’nt get any more miserable so why not take a chance and step out the front door. He chooses to spend 4 hours of his time everynight alone with his tv and wine, I finally made the decision to spend my time differently.

  • Sheila

    I’ve been in Al-Anon for 6 months now.
    Sometimes I wonder why I put up with the crap:
    the selfishness, the getting a rush out of controlling others’ emotions, the defensiveness, the avoidance of pain, the avoidance of unwanted responsibilites, the broken promises, the half-truths, the immaturity. Oh, did I mention the SELFISHNESS?
    Funny thing, I have long been hurt by the behaviors that made him seem like he wanted to be king over his little kingdom here, likehe was powering over me, like he was a perpetual spoiled brat 17 yr old. Then I went to Al-Anon and learned that those are ways that AA describes alcoholic behavior. I WAS RIGHT!!!!

  • Karen

    Sheila, it was amazing to me to discover how alcohol
    controls us. It changes their thinking and doing.
    In their mind they think they are right in criticizing
    every little thing we do. They want everything to function
    according to their rules. If you have been in an abusive
    household as a child their criticism is even more destructive to your soul. When I woke up and realized
    where I was heading it was like a lightening bolt. How
    could a reasonably intelligent woman be in this predicament. I am continueing to educate myself regarding
    surviving around alcoholism and find that more and more
    of my life was wasted with his ranting and raving.
    Still I fall back and accept their behavior. I have to
    fight to keep myself on track. (fight with myself to not
    accept his belittling behavior as true.} When he is somewhere around sober he is the nicest man. A person
    that everyone who knows him, loves him. Jeckle and hyde.
    I stay and I pray. The real work is learning the tricks
    for survival around the alcoholic. At first I resented that I had to change. Why me!!! He is the one with the problem. Remembering to love myself first and creating a new life. It is hard work.
    is not easy. BUT, it is necessary.

  • Caitlyn

    Two words for you – self discovery. Journey into the world of self discovery and you will find your answer for YOU. Live life for you and discover what makes you tick and you will find an acceptable solution.

    You are not changing so much as evolving. View it as a positive soul builder.

    Our lives are one big long journey, the humps and bumps are what makes us and shapes us. We can grow with the journey or be mowed down by it. It is our choice. I choose to stand tall although I’m only 160cm.

    God bless.

  • Sheila

    Thanks for the confirmation Caitlyn. Self discovery is right where I am at just now! Re-finding ME. I have so lost ME. I guess that’s what happens when an alcoholic takes over one’s life and we surrender our way of thinking, being, and our values to their way. So many times he had me saying to myself “Who am I? NOBODY. What am I? NOTHING. I am a nobody and a nothing.” Literally, these thoughts have been in my head because of his words and behaviors to me. Isn’t that horrible?
    Recently, an alcoholic who has been in recovery for about 20 yrs told me that “Alcoholic don’t have relationships, they have hostages.”
    That statement really clarified and confirmed what I had been experiencing. So, like any other hostage that is emerging from captivity, I have to re-learn ME, and replace the distorted thoughts and ways that were put into my head by the alcoholic and the experience of being in a relationship with an alcoholic.
    Starting TODAY, my alcoholic will be away for two weeks. I so look forward to just being! Being ME. Doing what I want to do; and also nuturing my mother/child relationship with my daughter and experiencing our love for each other without the toxic personality around.
    Self discovery!


    The path to self discovery can be an interesting one, but allow me to suggest that while you are at it take your time and employ the 24 hour plan. One day at a time. Do not forget that with help from The Higher Power nothing can stand in your way.

    Good luck and remember you are not alone in all this

  • lisa


    I am in a similar boat. I have a different type alcoholic as well. He use to not drive, stay at home and just get slammed. Always got up and went to work, but very controlling and abusive. The obession with the alcholic remains when the alcholic quits drinking. Because instead of obesessing over how much they drink, your wondering if they are drinking. You become obesessed with looking at their eyes, their actions. But when you have an alcoholic and a controller its two different things. The controlling behavior is still there when they get sober. They believe that everything is your fault, and take no fault of their own. Can someone help me figure this out?

  • Julie

    I am currently in a marriage with an alcoholic and an abuser (controller) You are correct they are two different sicknesses. But I am currently filing for a divorce after 20 years of marriage and abuse and am finally not believing his lies when he manipulates me. A great book that helps victims of controllers and abusers is “Why Does He Do That?” By Lundy Bancroft. Please get help. I know my community has an organization that helped me see that i was being abused. The problem with the abusers is that they do think they have the right to treat their partners and their children the way that they do. My husband’s verbal and emotional abuse turned to physical violence and I finally had the courage to reach out for help and to get out. We are now under a protection order and I have filed for a divorce which I know will only serve to drive his anger but with the safety measures I have learned from the safe house in our community and the good Lord’s guidance my children and I will hopefully make it thru this. And it is true that the alcoholism although affecting the abusive behavior and sometimes intensifying it, it is a separate illness that needs to be addressed before the abuser can even think about changing his abusive behaviors.In my situation after 20 years of abuse and 3 tries at rehab etc… I had no choice but to leave. I wish you the best of luck. God Bless.

  • Caitlyn

    From now on, the minute any controlling behaviours errupt, interrupt firmly, positively the attempt at control and manipulation and say ‘no’. No to, that is not the truth, no I don’t want to, no I’m doing it my way.

    You are the master of your ship and you have the right to decide for yourself what to do, whether to share information about the event or activity. And most importantly, what and how to do with your life and whom to share it with is your right, not someone elses.

    Become aware of how the control happens, it’s very subtle as it snakes it way along, then find a way, your way of saying I’m not putting up with this.

    Don’t put up with interrogations or manic monitoring of any kind. State firmly, kindly with a smile on your face, relationships are built on love, trust and respect. If he insists, tell him to go away and think about those words: relationship – love, trust, respect. It’s what every human expects and wants.

    This might be difficult to do if it’s been going on for years. Stand tall, suck in your breath and throw out your chest. You can do it. You need to for you. Don’t ever resort to arguing of any kind. Always firm, strong and kindness of words. He has to change and accept the new way of being. It may take a while to get to the goal. Remember persistence, firmness and strength are your allies to get you there.

    I hope this hits the mark for you.

  • Barbie

    My X (divorced this year)is a successful businessman, outgoing, smart, funny and a very controlled drinker and drunk. He blamed, criticized and insulted me. Nothing was his fault, he would twist things to make himself the victim and start arguments and then act like I was the crazy one. I have been doing alot of research on Alcoholism and thought I would pass some of it along.

    • Personality characteristics. Personality characteristics common among alcoholics also can affect communication. Alcoholics tend to be less conscientious, less agreeable, and more anxious and hypersensitive than are nondrinkers. These personality characteristics make effective communication and problem solving more difficult.
    • Effects on the brain. Researchers believe that alcohol’s effect on the brain may contribute to the increase in the negative communication. Alcohol appears to impair a person’s ability to understand and properly interpret what a spouse is saying. Alcoholics tend to interpret things their partners say in a very negative way and this leads them to respond with greater anger and negative emotions.

  • Barbie

    Interesting article… I read this when ever I need to get centered and not feel like I am a damaged person.

    Whether an alcoholic is drinking or not, he is often completely oblivious to the fact that he sometimes makes mistakes. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous realized this, and that’s why Step Four of the AA program (make a searching and moral inventory of oneself) is such a vital part of the process of recovery.

    Why Does He Always Blame Others?
    Many alcoholics and other dysfunctional individuals grew up in homes where there was little or no opportunity to develop healthy self-esteem. Not believing in their own worth, they became passive observers of life, reacting to others rather than acting on their own behalf. Alcoholics are often intelligent, talented and personable, but unlikely to take much initiative. Blaming is their lazy way of avoiding self-examination.

    This behavior in turn leads to a passive-aggressive personality and causes deep-seated anger to manifest itself in classic “poor me” form. According to David Straker, author of Changing Minds: in Detail, “blaming other people and avoiding personal recrimination are very real self-serving attributions”.

    Unfortunately, friends and families of alcoholics often participate in the “blame game” without knowing how harmful it is for everybody involved. Most alcoholics are master manipulators, and they deflect attention away from themselves, make excuses for themselves (and thereby give themselves permission to do it again) and slip into the victim role so fast that others are left wondering what happened.

    The most important thing you can do if you are constantly being blamed is to stop playing the game. You did not cause the alcoholic to blame you constantly. It is a mental disorder, a common component in the disease of alcoholism. No amount of “behaving properly so you won’t be blamed” will change it, and you cannot cure it. Assuming you are not a physician, a mental health professional or a magician, you are powerless over this frustrating but very real behavior.

    How to Stop Playing the Blame Game
    Blame is a form of verbal abuse. Respond to it the same way you would respond if it were physical abuse. Squelch your natural desire to defend yourself or explain your behavior. Instead, protect yourself just as you would if the person had punched you in the stomach. Alcoholics typically use verbal abuse to control others. Do not argue back. Simply tell him to stop. Say things like “don’t talk to me that way” or “stop blaming me, you know better”. With a little humor, only if your alcoholic is sober at the time, you might be able to say “there you go blaming me again”.

    This will not come easy at first, but if you can learn to emotionally detach from the situation and respond rather than react, you will eventually help him understand what he is doing. You can never fix the problem, because it is his to fix, but you can intercept the toxic cycle of the blame game. Whenever you attempt to explain yourself, it does more harm than good and perpetuates the toxic behavior.

  • Karen

    Help, help. I feel like screaming and crying. My 95
    year old father just had pneumonia and a small stroke that
    has affected his right leg. He gets around but his doctor
    wants 24/7 care for him. He lives with me. My alcoholic husband is going through the process of avasular degregation of his hip and will need a 2nd hip replacement. My mother is in a nursing home with alzheimers. I have high blood pressure, a stress related
    heart valve that does not close properly when stress is
    elevated. High cholesteral and triglycerides.

    Went to church breakfast this morning and all the seniors want to come into our home to stay with my Dad so I can get
    out to grocery shop etc. My feeling is assisted living
    would be a better option. I am feeling so guilty and
    inefficient and just plain tired of everything. Not suicidal just frustrated. I feel that having an alcoholic
    in the house my Dad would be much better off and some one
    else could do the care giving and I could visit, take him
    to church, see MOM at her nursing home, and still take him
    to seniors breakfast. After a few months of church people
    helping they will want off the hook come summer.

    Thanks for just letting me get this off my chest. I keep
    waiting for the Good Lords sign for what I should do that
    would be best for all of us.

  • Caitlyn

    Put your aged father into a nursing home. He will get the help he requires, have company by way of similar aged folks and not feel a burden on you or anyone in the family. You can visit as often and stay as long as you like. You can spend quality time with him instead of losing time and energy caring for him. The nursing home doesn’t have to be forever. It it doesn’t work out you can always take him back in. He will appreciate the time you do spend together there.

    Sometimes you have to step back and assess the situation logically.

    I can see you getting your life back of sorts by doing this. You’ll get some breathing space. Remember to do something special for yourself every day for at least half an hour to keep the balance in your life. Find a daily stress releaser for yourself and stick to it every day. Read a book, watch a chic flick, take a walk in the park, find your thing and do it, every day for YOU because YOU MATTER too. Good luck and best wishes to you all.

  • Jodylee

    Hi everyone, These posts helped me so much. I guess I have been in this lonely state for so many years with my alcoholic that I felt that no-one out there really understood what I was going through, since if I share it too much with others that don’t fully understand, they just tell me to leave. As a result I feel stupid that I havn’t permamently left.

    I did leave 5 times ! But always returned. All of your stories are mine too. I love my husband and now he has started to get really sick with liver issues and it just breaks my heart but at the same time the verbal abuse is awful. He hasn’t worked for 6 years, won’t stop drinking even though his stomach is swelling with ascites. Everything is my fault of course, he just lives his life not thinking of anyone else, feels like he is the victim, spends his time watching news, listening to sad songs and drinking and in his mind I am the cause since “I’m not a good and loyal wife” since I don’t want to spend a lot of time with him. He just smokes and drinks all day and hardly ever leaves the house unless I drive him somewhere.

    He is also paranoid and listens to my phone calls at times. Of course I tell him not to but that just starts a fight and he says, why, what am I trying to hide. To avoid that I now have a cell phone and my friends call me on that.

    I have learned over the years to ignore his abuse and I have carved out a life for myself. Church, singing in a choir, lunches with friends etc, and this website has helped enormously. Also I watched the Christian movie “Fireproof” lately (not great acting but the message is awesome. I then bought the Love dare book and it has made me see my spouse as God sees him. The change in my heart is amazing and as a result he is responding positively.

    I feel so bad that he has this addiction, underneath it all he is still the kind man I married but the beast of alcohol has taken over. I don’t take the insults personally anymore, it is the alcohol that is the insulter not my real husband.

    We can overcome this, just knowing we are not alone helps so much. Since reading all of these posts I have felt a kinship with you all knowing that we are going through the same things.

    I’ll keep praying for us all


  • Mark

    Wow…there are so many things that have been said I can relate to! I have been obsessing over my girlfriend since she has demonstrated a giant change in behavior. She says she isn’t an alcoholic, but starts drinking everyday before noon. She usually is asleep again by four in the afternoon because she is so drunk. We’ve been together for three years and it has only been about six months now that she has been drinking so heavily.

    She gets furious with me if I mention that I think she needs to get help. If I mention that she is ruining the relationship, I get blamed for not being understanding enough that her brother passed away a year ago.

    I find myself obsessing about whether she is telling the truth often. I also am always trying to plan things for us to do that won’t allow her to drink. When I first started reading this article, I was gripped by the opening sentence: “Family members spend as much time obsessing over the behavior of an alcoholic as ”they” do thinking about where they will get the next drink.” That’s me… I am constantly thinking about how to try and control her alcoholism.

    I don’t know if I am going to stay with her much longer. I mean I love her, but I am twenty seven years old and don’t want to spend the rest of my life obsessing over her problem. This article and all of your stories have really opened my eyes to the seriousness of the situation.

  • Caitlyn


    You may not have noticed how much she was actually drinking prior to the last six months. Sometimes, the sober and those in love have their blinkers on for a while before the reality of their relationship hits them. And, the alcoholic always find tons of excuses to keep up the good drinking. Not saying losing a brother isn’t hard, but she had/has you and that should be an enormous help, not the drinking. Wise people chose sobriety in times of loss and grief because they recognise alcohol only amplifies what they are feeling and if drags you downward into a spiral spin. There’s no solution to be found in a bottle. No lectures though from me. Who am I to anyone.

    At the end of the day SHE must decide for herself how to best jump over the hurdles of life. Not you, not a child, not a mother, not a father, not a special sibling can do that for her. She must come to the decision of her own accord for it to be true. You can hold her hand in her journey of recovery but the decision is hers to arrive at. Hope she can find the strength to get there – at the decision.

    For you, you have two things to do / consider. She may never sober up, can you live with her and love her the way she is now. That is, not wishing to be the bearer of bad news, she just may get worse with time. But then again she may not. That is the luck of your relationship draw. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with her. Could you live with her like that to the end of your time? Only you will know or find the answer to that. I’m giving my relationship of 12 months a longer go. I have another 12 months to the proposed wedding day to know for sure if I am of the right making to deal with it. I am keeping my eyes open, my mind open, heart warm and a notepad [in my head, more than a physical notepad] and a notepad of reasons why and why not and if we will work. My man is perfect in every other way. These alcoholics always seem to be from my recent observations from chats and forums like this.

    I am setting up my own guidelines of what is acceptable and what is not and I won’t be dragged down by him and he has tried on numerous occasions because it seems like in his last relationship it worked for him … or a while anyway. I won’t put up with misbehaviour. I never lose my cool, never argue. I walk away and have a discussion about the misbehaviour when he is sober and ready for the talk. It seems to work for me. In my mind I am strong enough to walk away for ever if I must. I want a peaceful, happy, stress free life. Relationships are meant to be nuturing, loving, caring, sharing. If I don’t get this, I am walking away. So far, it’s all good except for the few binge drinking episodes. Hasn’t had a big one for a while, like about four weeks. The last one was very bad for our relationship. I was ready to walk if I had to. It wasn’t ammunition to get him to sober up. He must decide for himself not be manipulated into it because it wouldn’t last then would it? His sobriety. He still drunk in those four weeks but I could tolerate his changed character. And they do change when they are drinking. I like him 2000% better when sober, he can be nasty, spiteful, argumentive though from what I’ve observed so far never violent with me or anyone else. I have told him if he ever hit me I’m gone for good. He was horrified to think that I thought he may resort to that, but it is a commonality with an alcoholic isn’t it. The statistics and reports in the newspapers attest to this aspect of a drunk or alcoholic.
    Back to you, the other thing, besides staying with your lovely lady, is you could walk away and start afresh. Don’t rush into your answer. You are only just now at the thinking stage. Keep your wits about you, never argue with your lady [never resolves anything and ignites other negative and damaging emotions and thoughts], keep a mental note of all aspects of her behaviour, character and work out what it truly is that draws you to this lady. I hope you find a satisfactory answer for you. Wishing you luck and good fortune in love and relationships. Remember you have a say in any bad behaviour from her. Pick your moment to talk to her about it, when she is sober and mentally receptive to comment and cause of concerns. Be firm, calm and resilient in saying what you feel, what you will not put up with by way of behaviour and stand your ground. She may well appreciate you setting some limits to work within. She will go away and consider what you have said and set as boundaries. Boundaries can work well for you and her, and is a positive step forward in a relationship with an alcoholic.
    On a personal level I am swinging toward staying with my man, but I have another twelve months to truly say yes when he asks and the day draws near. He doesn’t know he is on my watch list. Pays to keep this to yourself so they don’t try to fabricate a dream relationship for you, they are masters of hiding the truth and presenting you with what you want to see. Then once the goal is achieved they could whisk it all away because their goal of marriage is achieved. You have to be clever about finding out the truth, you’ll never get the truth direct from them. Better to quietly observe and wait for time to reveal who they really are as they relax in your company for this is the real them. This relaxing around you enables you to decide if they are right for you to go the distance.
    You may have been in your relationship 3 years Mark, but it sounds like it is only now that you are aware of the depth of the issues surrounding your lady. I’ve had six months of awareness now and I’m hanging on for another twelve to really be sure. Life could become very complicated if we were to rush into marriage, live together and then work out I can’t do it for the long haul. I am grateful my man has always been upfront and honest regarding how much he drinks. At first I thought he was exaggerating, but a few months down the track I woke up one morning and thought wow, this is for real. He does have a problem and I started watching for the depth of the problem. I’ve stopped checking his bins for the truth because I worked out he has been honest all the way. I want to keep this honesty going. I trust him. I don’t want him to lie. So see, I’ve had to change a little to accommodate the relationship of an alcoholic in my life. I try not to judge the what, when and how of my alcoholic. I pray he will arrive at the decision to quit. I’m grounded enough to know he may not ever. So my question for the next twelve months is “can I live with him how he is now?” I have set a parameter that says in my head, if he gets worse I am definately walking, if he stays as he is now, I could live with that. We keep refining the things that are bad, some of the misbehaviour that is bad for our relationship to ensure, although he is an alcoholic, we can still succeed as a loving couple.
    One last passing thought is that you can’t control her, her drinking or how she conducts herself. Let go of the notion and work out if you can live with how she is with all the parameters set in place. Spend more time thinking about you and what it is that you want and if you are getting that. Also remember love isn’t always enough to glue the two of you together and don’t feel bad about having to walk away if this is what you decide after due consideration. It isn’t your fault, and it isn’t her fault. It is all about growth and learning about yourself. May you find the right path for YOU to follow and never feel bad about chosing the right path, nor guilty. It isn’t your fault you are where you are at this moment and it isn’t your fault you are resolving it and so not meeting someone else’s expectations. She has choices in life to to arrive at too. You haven’t deliberately set out to hurt anyone. You remember that. A little pain is necessary sometimes to arrive at a solution for all. Guilt should never be involved in the decision making process.
    I hope this helps you in your decision making. Best of luck.

  • Louisa

    Mark, she obviously is suffering from depression/grief. Most alcoholics have undiagnosed mental health issues, and self medicate with alcohol.

  • Louisa

    well, she can disagree and i think most alcoholics would disagree since they never like to admit anything is wrong with them, but the fact remains she is drinking to change the way she FEELS.

  • Louisa

    let me rephrase that……..there is nothing “wrong” with being depressed or any other mental illness, it’s just that alcohol is a depressant and can cause even more life problems eventually.

  • JC

    Mark, I am pleased to hear that you have an understanding of how you have been obsessing over an alcoholic.

    Once we have an awareness of what is going on with ourselves, we can then start making changes in our actions and attitudes that will help us reclaim our identity.

    If we keep second guessing our thoughts, opinions and actions based on what the alcoholic thinks about us, we are still intertwined with the insanity of alcoholism.

    I am a little uncertain as to what it is you and your girlfriend are not agreeing upon?

  • Louisa

    So this is my life……….my husband has downed 4 glasses of wine in the last two hours while glued to the tv, i went into the backyard to get my cat and my husband was in the tool shed smoking pot out of a diet coke can. And this is the nightly pattern, wine, pot, tv until bed at 7:30. No talking, no nothing. Fixes himself a hamburger acts as though he lives alone. This scenario happens 7 night a week. Welcome to hell. He is 55 years old and highly educated.

  • Trina

    I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years. Last year he went to an out patient rehab for prescription pills and some other stuff. He graduated from the rehab. He went to some aa meetings while he was in there but he said he does not like going to them because everyone talks about drinking and that makes him want to drink more. I am worried for him though because I have caught him doing the pills again. On top of the pills he drinks heavily. I did some research and the mixture could kill him. I just do not know how to deal with both addictions at the same time. I have thought about just leaving and not talking to him again but I just can’t do that to him. I love him to much to not keep trying. He had surgery on his knee when he was a teen, and now he’s in construction so that is why he says he takes the pills every once in a while. He said he drinks so he is numb to the pain by the time he goes to bed.

    Sorry if I was rambling I don’t ask for advice very often and I did not know how much info you needed to help me.

  • Veronica

    My husband is an alcoholic. He drinks less lately but when he does, he cant stop and he gets really nasty when he’s drunk. I find this website helpful but I would like to know how to react in specific situations like what do you do if you’re in a party and your husband gets drunk? And not a “happy drunk”, but totally the oposite. Should I just leave the party? I find myself having less social life since I’m with him because I’m affraid he will get drunk and ruin everything.

  • Kim

    I have a question. This suggests breaking the habit of obsessing over the alcoholic – don’t smell them to see if they have been drinking, don’t try to find the bottles… My problem is I can’t see that he has been drinking until it’s too late, and what started as a “normal” conversation is suddenly one of those stupid mental roundabout games. I like to check the level of the bottle to see if I need to be very careful or just go see a movie. I would prefer to relax in my own home. But, if I don’t check the level, I never really know if he is about to pass out and I will have my peace and quiet, or if he is just getting started and picking a huge fight with me will be his entertainment. He gets home before I do, so I never know how much he has already drunk. Anyone have any suggestions? So far, I miss all the signs until it’s too late and I have fallen into some huge trap of a web of his words.

  • Lois

    Hi Kim, I go through this as well. My husband drinks when i leave, to run to the store, get my grandkids to a lesson – anything and I believe he drinks as fast as he can till I get back because he still cares what i see. I too don’t know what to say or do unless i have an idea how much he’s consumed because he’s composed in his behavior until he’s 9 or 10 beers in- then its obvious. I too want to know if we can have a decent conversation, if i can share something that i’m hurting or worried about or if i should keep it to myself (he will make fun of me or call me a whiner when he’s drunk)or talk plans about something upcoming – it’s all contingent on how much he’s drank in my absence. He goes into the garage and drinks in there in the winter months while he tinkers on things, again i have to check his beer frig in there when he’s gone in to the rr or before he gets out there or both to gage how many he’s had. I also look in the garbage as nonchalantly as i can to figure it out. Girl, i hear you. I don’t obsess on it – he won’t tell me he won’t drink so i don’t have to search for lies. He does not hide his beer other than when he buys it. He buys it w/o me and gets it into the garage so i don’t realize how often he buys it. HA! They think they are so clever. I don’t have to ‘figure it out’ i know what he drinks because I’m there. At least he does not drink away from home, that i could not put up with. Right now he’s not drinking much, every evening yes – 9 or 10 beers no. He’s at about 5 right now and that leaves me with a person i can deal with that is not mean spirited. Holding my breath as the holidays come on though….Your not alone. you have friends here and some very experienced, wise comments I am still gleaning good from EVERY visit.

  • Lois

    Veronica, I would not go to parties with him; the end. In my oppionion the hosts won’t want him/you guys as a couple if he’s like that and if you don’t go maybe he won’t go and you can save your friends party from his disruption and you embarrassment all at the same time. Sucks not to have a social life but going where you know he will cause trouble for a friend and embarrass you sounds like emmotional cutting to me. Why go if you know the result. If you are not sure, leave when he acts up. If he won’t go, leave him and tell him that when he’s sober – he will have to get a cab and deal with the hostess for any bad behavior -the end. With holiday’s coming it bares thinking about, making a plan for when the invites come and then stick to it! You will see that allot here – don’t say it if your not going to stick to it or your part of the problem! Tough but true. Happy Thanksgiving, I truly wish your family sober and fun memories!

  • Kim

    Thanks Lois. So just look if I feel I need to. I never bother to mention if he is or isn’t drinking to him anyway. Obviously to me he is, the question is just how much. I just need to know what I am dealing with when I get home. I can’t see it, cannot smell it, he does not slurr or walk funny, so I never really know if he is about to be at the mean stage. Thank you Lois.

  • Dan

    I understand the distancing, the “stop obsessing,” etc, with a focus on “get on with your life.” What I don’t see here is any acknowledgement of how an alcoholic actually affects your life other than just drinking, arguing, etc – like finances and children.

    My wife of ~20 yrs has only been drinking alcohol for a year (we were non-drinking for religious reasons, but left the church for other reasons 1.5 yrs ago), and she’s been abusing routinely – week in and week out – for 9 months or so. She asks me to go out with her, “us time” to mend the problems caused by her drinking, but in the end she gets drunk. I work, and starting last fall she went back to being a full-time student. She’s taken to spending her day at a restaurant drinking while studying. The financial cost is immense; with 4 kids and 1 income, it’s not like we have much money. Even if I put my pay in an account she doesn’t have access to, she will charge up a credit card. She’s already purchased crap online while drunk and run up over $10K on cards.

    And while I could ignore it and walk away, what I find I cannot do is “parenting while drunk.” We have 4 ranging from 10 to 15. I can hold my tongue, but what do you do when they refuse to hold theirs with your children? Others are advised to leave, ‘go do something for yourself.’ While she’s not physically abusive, I am afraid to leave the with her. I don’t get home until 1-3 hrs after they get home from school, I can’t leave them with her to go to meetings. I have told her my #1 thing is “don’t drink around the kids,” but she doesn’t listen. She binges, then either gives them lengthy, slurred lectures or just yells at them, cusses at them. I can’t tell them “if mom’s drunk, just walk away” because it will only make mom mad and get them in trouble for not listening, being rude, etc.

    Oh, yeah, and then there’s the drinking and driving issue – completely omitted here. If she’s going to drink and drive, am I not responsible for preventing it, for keeping here from putting her and other people’s lives at risk on the street? How does one ignore that?

    I apologize for any argumentative tone. I’ve only just started looking online for advice … She was a mess for 6 months, we fought, she made and broke promises, but then she seemed to get a bit of a grip – where only a couple binges happened over about 6 wks – but in the last few weeks things fell apart. I’m looking for an Al Anon group, looking for someone I can talk to.

  • Julie21

    Dan I understand your situation as mine was similar. After 20 years of marriage and trying to work with my AH to get him help and stop the abuse of me and my children I finally had to get out. And I will tell you my older children(now young teens) are angry at me for not getting out sooner. But I will tell you now that whenever i had to leave them alone with him i was lucky enough to have friends, family or neighbors who were willing to drop by and check on the children. Several times his brother and sister in law removed the children from the home until i could come get them because he was drunk, nasty and or violent. I am not sure if you have anyone like that around whom you can trust and who is willing to check on your children for you. Maybe you need to see a professional in the field who would know the laws and so you can get the children out of the situation. I know i tried to protect mine from my AH and i found i was not able to as much as i thought i was. The best thing was to remove us all from the situation. Worrying about my AH taking care of himself is one of the things that stopped me from leaving. But once i focused on my children and really listened to what they were telling me, i realized that we all had to get out. No one deserves to live in an unstable and/or insecure environment like the one an addict can create for his/her children in their own home. A great site for you to check out is empoweredrecovery.com. Please check it out and read the book/ebook. It is very insightful.

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