Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic-Ways to end fighting

How can you stop arguing with a husband, wife, son, coworker, daughter or friend who is an alcoholic? It can seem impossible at times because there is constant turmoil and looming anxiety that surrounds the life of an alcohol addicted person.

This following statement is the solid foundation that needs to be built upon:

“It takes two to argue.”

That old cliché seems simple enough to grasp in the intellect, but try to convince the emotions that it is a simple task to smile in the midst of a tornado of anger. The process of turning the other cheek and walking away is difficult when the normal interaction with the alcoholic friend or family member revolves around arguing and fighting.

The vicious cycle can only be broken by removing yourself from the fighting territory.

What if I told you that the two weapons that alcoholics use are anger and anxiety? Does that bring some light into the darkness? Understanding this truth will help you quit fighting with them.

If they can keep you upset, then the focus becomes on you rather than on them. While you’re storming around fuming with anger, then they can point the finger at your behavior rather than looking at their own. In some dysfunctional way this makes them feel better about themselves. When there’s an argument that breaks out it also gives them permission to escape get drunk.

Ways to Stop Fighting With Someone Who Drinks Alcohol

First, let me just say that you are going to have to be patient and easy on yourself if you fail the test when trying to stop fighting with someone who is an active substance abuser. People who drink alcohol regularly can really get under your skin.

Please do your best to apply the following steps with a loving and gentle attitude towards the person who has the drinking problem in your life. Being kind to an alcoholic may be difficult, but it’s necessary. If it is not possible to detach with love, then detaching with anger is better than arguing with the alcoholic.

1) Never have a serious conversation with them when they are drunk.I quit arguing all together when I began to realize it’s pointless to try and reason things out when they have been nipping the bottle. You wouldn’t try to have a rational conversation with someone who has just come out of major surgery and is under the effects of an anesthetic would you? Someone who drinks every day has alcohol in their blood twenty four/seven. Avoid talking about the serious things in life like house payments, bills and children’s health issues when they are inebriated. Wait until they have sobered up then initiate the conversation.

2) Learn to recognize what they do to try and make you start arguing with them. It may be that they criticize you or call you a degrading name. Perhaps they will disapprove of a particular thing that you did and point out your fault in the matter. Once you begin to tune into their tactics you will be able to quit reacting in negative ways.

It will be easier to stop than you think. Just keep trying until you get it right.

3) Keep your mouth shut; if what you have to say is not necessary, kind or true, don’t say anything. This means that you are going to have to keep your composure long enough to think before you respond to something that they have said or just done.

4) When they hurl an insult at you, learn to respond by saying: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Then say nothing else in defense of your character.

5) Politely tell them that you do not care to discuss the matter now. Once you do this, it is not necessary to repeat yourself again as they continue to try and get a negative reaction from you. Go into another room, close the door and start reading a book or watch TV or something. You can even leave the house and go for a walk or call a friend and go visit. Do whatever it takes to stop arguing with the problem drinker.

There are many other things that I could share with you, but remember the foundational goal is to stop arguing by remembering that it takes two people to have a fight. If you refuse to step into the fighting arena, then there will be no argument. Now, be prepared for your husband, wife, son, daughter or coworker to get even more angry when you refuse to be a part of the habitual lifestyle anymore. The only way to put an end to the dysfunctional cycle is to not participate anymore. You really can quit arguing and totally stop fighting with an alcoholic.
Alcohol Addiction Family Help

How to Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic

89 comments to Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic-Ways to end fighting

  • Paula

    Hi Adam,
    I fervently believe that with alcoholics like with children you have to be strong state your case and stand behind it without wavering. You know what is right for you and your kids, and what is wrong. You don’t have to accept what is wrong. You don’t have to stay in a relationship that causes you or your children to compromise your quality of life to accommodate someone who is out of control. The way to set your boundaries,(which you seem to know quite clearly what they are) is to state what they are in very clear terms, always calmly and only when she is sober, and explain that you need her to respect them. Then unfortunately like Margie said you need to prepare yourself for the reality that you might have to leave with the kids.
    As I see it the alcoholic party needs to clearly understand how their behavior is effecting people, and what their loved ones are prepared to do, to be safe away from it and then for the reality to come to fruition if their behavior doesn’t change. This only works when the person who is stating their boundaries is calm and clear explaining the situation. As my best friend says “he who loses it, loses.” So try not to get tricked into engaging in arguments that go around and around. The time to discuss it is when everyone is calm.
    This kind of issue will likely be a lifelong problem for her, unless she is one of the rarer cases, there is no quick fix, it is her journey and there is little anyone can do for her, she needs to do the work. All family can do is remind her they love her and say what they do and do not accept. I feel your pain. Good luck brother.

  • Patti

    Hi Adam! I’m so sorry that you and your children are in the “firing line” of your very sick AH. I’m praying for all of you and will include you in my daily prayers! I recommend that you MUST remove yourself and your children from the violence and negativity when your AH is drinking!!!! SAVE YOUR CHILDREN! Find some friends, babysitters, churches or other safe places to go, and/or remove ESPECIALLY your kids from that emotional poison that the AH doesn’t even realize they’re spreading! Find an Alanon meeting or church with loving folks that can help guide you in the right direction. I grew up w/AH parents who fought every night. I always felt the desire to run from the anger, and at one point, I accidentally ran straight into the arms of a child molester!!! My happy childhood was tainted by guilt shame and doubt. My teenage life was filled with struggles and scary experiences, as my parents weren’t able to be help me, and I lacked the self confidence to make good decisions for myself. Luckily, there have been some contacts along the road, with folks that gave me encouragement, comfort, and seeds of information that have stayed with me. At 54, I FINALLY realized that I can and must take steps to heal MY damaged inner child. It’s not easy, as I’m married to an AH, who has taken me down to his depression & chaos. The AH can’t help it. The disease of Addiction has an iron grip on them, and they have to hit bottom, and then HOPEFULLY, a long road of recovery for them. When I’m healed, I will be able to make decisions and take actions to empower myself fully, and create the life that I’ve always wanted, but never thought I deserved, or could achieve….SAVE YOUR CHILDREN! Then SAVE YOURSELF! May God’s angels watch over you and your kids!

  • C


    I finally had to seek therapy to clear my head – I knew I had to leave a raging alcoholic but my feet didn’t want to help me leave! You have gotten some excellent responses and I see myself in many of them. It doesn’t get better – I found – just gets worse.

    My father was a drinker but he quit at age 60 and went to AA – my stepmother went to Alanon. They really turned their lives around – and my children were lucky never to have seen what he was like before.

    The alcoholic personality rears its head often even when the drinker has stopped – they get overwhelmed and out come the remarks.

    Both of my sons are too busy to hang out in bars with friends – thank heaven. Your children are your first priority – hope you have support from a professional to help you make a decision.

    Take good care of yourself.

  • Shay

    Well today was just a big mess. With my own depression at an all high and long day of work. My fiancée was drunk, keot trying anyway to fight with me. I tried all the steps even went as far as just not acknowledging her. Just dont know how i can put up with jer being like this, specially with the wedding coming up in a month… just had to get this off my back.

  • Sue

    It was my birthday today and my alcoholic partner acknowledged it by email at 8.10pm even though I was sitting on the couch next to him. He then used this to start an argument. I’m so angry at myself for taking the bait and trying to reason with him. I should have not allowed myself to respond. How much more can I put up with. I’m so over the whole situation

  • Michele

    I just wanted to add something that I found on another website’t give them any attention at all while they are drinking. Negative attention is still attention. Some do it to get your attention. If you must interact with them, be as plain, simple and boring as possible. Also if you’re wonder just what to say to them when they are sober (next day after drinking) write this down.
    1) I love you (spouses name) but I hate the disease.
    2) I will stand by you when you want to quit but I will not stand by you when you drink.
    3) I like talking with you when you are sober, but I hate talking with you when you drink.
    4) I love being with you as long as you are not drinking, but when you start to drink, I can’t be around you.
    5) I love the man/woman I married but I do not like what the drinking does to you.

  • Tiger

    I know my husband is an alcoholic. He drinks everyday of the week.(beer) I try not to say anything when he starts to argue. It doesn’t do no good. He accuses me of not caring or listening to what he has to say. I also try to watch t.v. in another room, he still comes back 1-3 times trying to argue. Sometimes I go sleep. That don’t do more good either.

  • Bonnie

    I have a son in law who is an alcoholic,we have done everything we can think of.walk away,told him we don’t want to hear what he has to say came to appoint where he has become violent and start to lay his hands on his son and his wife.he has gone to get help,but it did not stop him.he continues to much longer do we have to put up with it.

  • Lynn

    Well, here we are again. Fighti g over nothing. Feeling neglected. Husband drinks every day. Hides it but I semll it in his breath. Every day.

    For me the fustration is that I am so co dependent that I don’t know how to leave. We have a 7 year old and i am alone with no other family so it terrifies me. He barely belps out I work 3 jobs while be works his minimum wage job. He lies about his expenses. (credit card companies don’t charge $300 in late fee each month…)

    But the neglect of me and my son is infurating. For the latest example, he promised me son a camping night but wound up drunk ad passed out instead. I wound up doing it with him. I am tired of him disappointing me. I am done with him disappointing our 7 year old.

    This article says “Someone who drinks every day has alcohol in their blood twenty four/seven. Avoid talking about the serious things in life like house payments, bills and children’s health issues when they are inebriated. Wait until they have sobered up then initiate the conversation.” well, in other words, I am own.

  • Gina

    You are not alone, Lynn. Your story sounds similar to mine…day in and day out. I am CONSTANTLY having to borrow money to keep us afloat, even though we have enough to support us. I see the 18, 30, 12 packs of empties in the garage all the time. And I can tell when he has been drinking because of the horrible stench…it oozes from his pores. We no longer share a joint bank account because I got tired of always having the house in jeopardy because he was constantly running his debit card. When we don’t have money, we sure as hell have money for his beer and his cigarettes! Meanwhile, I struggle to come up with the $70 to $100 monthly that I DESPERATELY NEED for my thyroid medication. I am sick of his lies, sick of his putting everything else second to his beer, sick of the smell of alcohol. I have a really good job, and thankfully, my kids are grown but there are bills upon bills that I have incurred because of his behavior – DUI, wrecked car, legal fees, etc.

  • Craig

    Over the years I have been very guilty of defending myself while my wife has been verbally assaulting me. Extremely confrontational when she drinks, it has only been over the past 4 months that I have really been able to pull away without fighting. I still fail miserably sometimes and the fights always turn to me being the problem. The issue I have currently is that I am being blamed for becoming cold and withdrawn. In the process of trying to literally physically escape the confrontations I have become less communicative for fear of sparking more arguments and anger from her. It is frustrating to feel as though I have to protect myself like this from someone that claims to love me and need me so much. I have told her that I can not and will not be there when she literally, physically pushes me away and threatens me. I fear that my distance and sense of peace when I withdraw will become a permanent thing. There just is no easy way to deal with this at all.

  • Debbi

    Craig, I’m going through the same thing right now with my AH. He thinks I no longer love him because I show no affection towards him. It’s not intentional but I’m having a hard time being kind and affectionate when I feel like he is destroying his life and his body. He has told me to make a decision on where I’m going because he is done with my actions and lack there of. It’s killing me that he doesn’t understand what I’m going through daily with his drinking. I have recently been going to Al-Anon meetings and they have been helping me but I’m afraid it’s too late. He’s coming back from a trip and said he is done and wants me to make a decision on where I’m going when he gets back. I wish you luck Craig.

  • Denise

    my partner stopped drinking for 2 years, because he had 2 strokes. Now he started again. One drink then more and more. When he drinks he likes to put me down, telling me that I am not nice with our guests, I cook I clean I do the shopping and I also have a nice bank account. He keeps trying to acuse me of everything that is wrong in the house. When guest are here he is so nice to them and they just love him. I cannot speak to anyone about this, I’m scared friends and family will take side and it will get worse. I have to make a decision if he keeps this up, I cannot live like this.

  • Denise

    Reading from all of you has helped me, I now see the same patterns, the arguements etc. I have been trying to just smile and shut up, it is so hard though. I cannot tell my husband that he is hurting his health, I guess he will have to learn the hard way. He says that we only have one life and he will live it to the fullest the way he wants. Always says live and let live, so I think that now he will be doing just that. But he didnt think that if he gets sick again he will be hurting himself and everyone around him, by then will I be able to take care of him?

  • Kit

    I think I am different than many of the others posting on here. I am married but I don’t love my AH husband. I haven’t for years. We have been married for 30 years but I fell out of love 15 years ago. I even left him for 7 years but we never divorced. BIG MISTAKE but I was told he was dying and his family begged me not to do it in the condition he was in. He drank so heavily that he wound up with cirrhosis of the liver and was given weeks to live. I wasn’t living with him then but he was in a nursing home for a year, and nothing short of a miracle..he survived. Started right back up drinking again. I came back 8 years ago to allow our son to have freedom from his father to finish college and to try and convince my husband to quit drinking once and for all. Sadly, its been an epic fail. I gave up a good job to help take care of my husband (I use that term loosely since we have separate bedrooms and there is NO physical contact). I really wanted to help him. I can’t, he doesn’t want help. He’s a sick old man both mentally and physically. He has drank so heavily that I’m sure he is suffering from the wet brain syndrome. He drinks for days on end, no food, and is abusive (only mentally). I want desperately to leave, but my full time job has been as his care taker. I do have money saved up that he knows nothing about, but its hard to rent a place when you have no job…and no credit. The running joke in my family is..”Is he still alive?”..I will tell ANYONE and EVERYONE this…do not think for a minute that you can help an alcoholic. Unless they want help, forget it. Get yourself. There are days when I wake up not knowing if I had hoped I didn’t wake up, or he didn’t wake up. Please don’t judge me unless you have walked in my shoes. I despise the man I once loved so much. He is a complete asshole, in his very infrequent sober moments he will admit to it. I pray to god that any of you living this life can get out!

  • Janet

    My ex is alcoholic but sober came to fix roof and save couple of hundreds of dollars He started out okay with right materials but now has run
    Out of money and his new wife not giving anymore for our house roof fix up … so I see storm brewing over this but am so grateful yous have this website and will not argue with my ex in what kind of ‘ quality’ job he fixed the roof all I can do now is say Ha Ha Ha and not cry!!! Ha Ha Ha

  • Lyndsey

    So in a nutshell my mother is becoming a bad drinker. Almost every night she has more than half a bottle of wine minimum. She is also a Type 1 diabetic, who claims the red wine has a substance in it that lowers blood sugar(it actually does when you have 5oz a night, not the whole bottle) When she does this she picks fights with my dad over trivial stuff. For instance last night it was the fact that an employee of my dad (this is a person my mother HATES) parked in “his spot”. We both (my father and I) calmly said that there are no assigned parking spots…its a strip center, you park where you can. Dad does have a spot that he goes when no one is there yet, but other than that there is no parking spots for particular people. She immediately went on the offensive and said dad was covering/protecting this employee. Again we both calmly said that there are no assigned parking spots. She gets even more mad and saying “F you” repeatedly to my father because it wasn’t the answer she wanted, and constantly interrupts and talks over anyone trying to say anything to try and calm her down. The fight ended how it usually does with mom leaving in a storm of fury cussing the whole way to the garage apartment. How can we make her see what she has turned into? She is Mrs. Hyde when she drinks. My uncle (my fathers brother) was an alcoholic and ended up killing himself several years ago, we are worried because this is how it started with him.

  • Jacquelyn

    My husband is an alcoholic and I suspect he has Paranoid Personality Disorder. He is constantly accusing me of cheating, even though I have never cheated on him. I am a Christian, I dress modestly, I never flirt, and we work together from home, so I am always with him. He has my car equipped with a GPS tracker. Still, when he gets drunk he accuses me of sleeping with people. I just bought these new hair curlers that were featured on “Shark Tank” that my daughter and I wanted to try. Tonight he is drunk and as I’m putting them in for the first time he starts in on me, saying “Where are you going tomorrow? I dont know why you’re curling your hair. Who are you sleeping with? Is there someone else?”

    What do I do? I can’t just leave because my daughter is upstairs asleep. If I go in a room and shut the door, he’ll bang on it until I open it and he’ll probably wake her up. I dont want him waking her up with his ranting. Tonight I told him I wasn’t going to talk to him for the rest of the evening, He tried and tried to pick a fight with me, but thankfully he gave up and went into the other room. Is ignoring the alcoholic a viable way to not engage with their dumbassery?

  • sars

    My husband constantly judges everyone. Me, our son, my family, etc. I have a very high stress job with the government, which he constantly criticizes, and expects me to change laws and mandates. When he is drinking and sober he calls me and our son names. He is not clear with his thoughts, ideas, or expectations. But when we fail to meet them we are criticized and put down. I work 50-60 hours per week, go to school full time, and feel I am the only responsible one in the hone. He gets drunk and wants to argue about everything and anything. Everything is a crisis and negative. I am open and tell him what I feel and need without blaming or criticism. I finally had enough tonight of him blaming me for every problem. I cried and walked away. He apologized…again, but immediately went to blame in the extreme. I was trying to lighten the mood by telling funny stories and jokes. Every time I wad talking, his phone was suddenly way more important. I don’t know what to do. I just feel so lost and frustrated. He isn’t like this al the time, but I am tired of the name calling, embarrassment with friends, and the argumentative behavior. Also, when he drinks he tells everyone my personal issues and secrets. I feel I cannot trust him anymore. What do I do?

  • Tammy

    To Jacqueline, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Please check out a book called “Why does he do that” by Lundy Bancroft. Hope it gives you so clarity.

  • […] will help defuse the possibility of getting into an argument with an alcoholic. Let those lies that the alcoholic throws at you, let them just bounce off of you and not have an […]

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  • […] Refuse to argue with someone who’s been drinking alcohol. Remember that it takes two to argue and if you choose not to, then I guarantee you that you will […]

  • […] 1) Once you recognize that your peace is being effected, make a decision to not argue. Remember it takes two people to fight. If you refuse to respond in a negative way then there’s really not much to be argued about with an alcoholic. […]

  • […] you do this, predetermine in your mind that you will not argue with the alcoholic. If you begin to argue with them, save your breath because they will not be hearing what you have […]

  • […] When we begin to recognize that not everything that they say is our fault, then we can stop defending ourselves and there will be less arguing with the problem drinker. […]

  • During ironing, you will need a way for the steam generated by your iron to escape without burning you or spoiling the clothes or fabrics you are ironing.

  • […] started to recognize how the alcoholic was starting arguments all of the time and how to avoid accepting  the invitations to fight. This was an amazing […]

  • Raul leos

    So this is just gonna keep going on and there isn’t much hope till they are done

  • Sarah

    Dear everyone…
    Thankyou for sharing your thoughts… thankyou for taking all the courage and talking about your problems… I am going through mine too… I got an AB and it’s been years now. I feel all of you. I know I can’t solve your problems and it gets hard most of the time and you feel like giving up but whatever you do please remember your not alone… we all are fighting our own battles… just don’t argue with them, don’t fight, don’t react to each and everything they do, ignore. Just know that it’s not your fault and that you will get over this somehow… god bless you all, we are all in this together…

  • I have learned to say nothing at all to her when she is drinking I am public enemy number one.i go and sleep in the truck or car all of a sudden I am gay anything to get me in the ring but I don’t take the bait no more. it is something else to see this sweet lady turn into a deamon I love so I put up with it love will make you put up with all kinds of things pray for me people so I can hang in there.

  • My husband starts drinking beer and usually has tequila shots on top of it. He just keeps slamming down the beers. Then he tells me I am not showing him enough attention, which I can’t do when he is drinking like this. He thinks just because hd is drunk, that I should be sexually aroused by him! Far from that. Then he wants to fight with me if I don’t give him want he wants. All all friends that are couple still all drink too much, except me. I have no desire to drink like that. It’s so frustrating to be his personal driver when we go to friends home,so he can get wasted. Then I get to deal with the aftermath of the drinking.

  • mary

    Sad for u all but also glad to hear I am not alone. If i continue to live here I need to stop falling into the trap. It just that I never no when they have been drinking. SO my guard is down. Usually she drink before bed and that’s cool. But I’m realizing now that she sneaks and drink, possible, morning and early afternoon. So I fall for the trap during the day and try to reason with her only to realize she purposely wants to argue. I will continue to read and learn and behave wisely. I felt so distraught inside after arguing back. I am smarter than that. I will get prepared. I will have my car keys, coat n shoes and possible a over night bag in car in the case that i need to walk away from an argument. Its too difficult to gather my belongings under the stress anxiety. I need to realize it a revolving pattern, it has gotten a bit better. but it still happening. I’m to old for this behavior and am to smart to fall into the trap. I am in this situation for now and I can handle it. I no the words hurt badly when coming from a loved one. We cant let those words have meaning and keep us down and wounded. I realize it her pain venting on to me. I am so thank full i searched the web today for positive information. She was ok today. I do think if we taped/film them and they viewed themselves they would see the demon they can turn into. Infact at times i do think im dealng with the devil himself.

  • I feel such empathy for the victims. Most Alcoholics won’t always leave you alone if you ignore them. Its sad that adults and children have to deal with this insanity.The patterns never stops until the victim leaves or calls the police. Or maybe breakups with the alcoholic for good.I wish you all peace of mind and body. Whatever works. I hope none of you suffer anymore. All of you deserve better life !!!

  • Anonymous

    How do you deal with the aftermath of an argument with an alcoholic? I recently had one and have not spoken to them and vice versa since the incident. I did become engaged and let it get to me and my temper got away from me. While I want to accept responsibility for my part of this I don’t know how apologizing for it should go or if I should even try.

  • Dan

    As a alcoholic who finally wised up and got sober through AA its eye opening reading this thread. There is no point in trying to reason with somebody when they are drunk… its pointless. I was lucky to even remember anything in the morning after a rough night drinking. It took literally losing everything for me to wake up. None of you deserve what an alcoholic is doing to your life. Give them an ultimatum when sober, get help or I will leave. If they continue to drink… leave!!! Staying with them, paying the bills and bailing them out of trouble only enables the behavior. Its easier said then done to let them go. But is whatever “stuff” you might lose leaving, worth living til the bitter end with that persons drinking and abuse? It takes a big boot to the butt to attempt change for alcoholics. Tough love is the best weapon you have. Either they change or they cease to be in your life.

  • K H W

    I hope we all find peace in this struggle. Pray for strength.

  • Mary

    BEST website I have come across to answer what I’m going through. It answers when, where, how, why, what happens. THANK YOU!!!

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