Preparing the Home for a Recovering Alcoholic

The person in your life is in recovery now, perhaps a treatment program or AA meetings. Preparing the home to be alcohol free is a very important aspect of helping them to stay sober. Yes, the house should be totally free from any and all alcohol.

In fact, if you do not clear out all the booze because you like to drink, you’re a self-centered person.

Leave me as many comments as you like about that statement.

I am here writing this post to be an alcoholic’s friend, not their enemy!

In war, the opposing side or enemy sets land mines to destroy lives. As far as I’m concerned, if you leave alcohol in the house where a recovering alcoholic lives, you are just making life harder on them. You are setting them up to fall!

Why would you want to do such a thing? I’ll tell you why, it’s called being self-centered!

Another way of getting the home prepared for someone who is getting sober is by attending support group meetings. This is something that should be high on the priority list. Al-anon is a great place to start with your own healing. .

You are going to need all the help you can get in understanding an alcoholic’s behaviors, especially now that they are not drinking. By attending these meetings regularly, reading the literature and interacting with members of your groups, you will begin your own recovery.

I know you have been thinking all this time;

“It’s all their fault.”

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, “but” you are sick as well. What happens as we live in the middle of this crazy dysfunctional disease is that we become obsessed with the alcoholic. They literally are on our minds all of the time. You need to learn how to overcome focusing on the alcoholic all of the time.

The old cliché; “out of site out of mind” does not apply to us when dealing with an active addict.

They are with our thoughts twenty four seven!

Just because they have quit their drinking addiction does not mean that life is going to be fine at home. Many people say that living with a recovering alcoholic is like a night and day experience.

You have to understand that they are having to feel every little thing without medicating their bodies to avoid the feelings now. This generally brings a high level of stress into the home for just a little while. It’s important for you to get the right tools from places like Al-anon to help you deal with them.

Everyone in the family should express their feelings to the person who has quit drinking in a positive way. It’s a good thing to tell them that you are glad they have decided to stop.

Really, when preparing for things to be different in the home, much of the family business should continue as usual. The bills still have to be paid so, a leave of absence is not a necessary thing. The kids must still go to school and do their homework. The family vacation must still be planned and the pets still have to be fed.

The most important thing I can leave you with is…Trust God!

I would love to hear your thoughts on these matters please feel free to comment.

9 comments to Preparing the Home for a Recovering Alcoholic

  • kathy michael

    i googled “alanon menber planting alcohol around alcoholic” and “should alcohol be in home of recovering alcoholic?” and it led me to your website. anyone with a heart knows the answers to these questions. however, my recovering friend has an al-anon husband who consistently hides hard liquor in their home and denies it when his wife finds it. then magically, the alcohol gets replaced in the very same hiding place.

    he recently sent a “program-perfect email” out to all family members and their grown children, explaining that he “loves her but hates her disease” and would be seeking a divorce because refused his 1-hour ultimatum to go to rehab. (she’s doing 3 AA meetings a day instead). after laying the groundwork for support in his eloquent email, his wife shocked us all and dove head-first into AA, loves the program, and has been sober for 20 days.

    her “getting well” has thrown a wrench in his spokes because he wants a divorce over her alcoholism. so mysteriously, more liquor appeared in his usual hiding place, and if you begin to suspect this (based on other trip-wires he sets up around her), and you happen to give in to the temptation to check his hiding place, she’d be sure to be dubbed a co-dependant for minding “his business”… yet it’s life or death for her. it’s as if he wants her to fail so he can go through with the divorce.

    they still live in the same house, and he barely speaks to her now that she’s sober. is it possible he needs her to be “sick” to accomplish his freedom and look good?

  • Caitlyn

    Sounds like marriage guidance councelling is required. Perhaps you can suggest it if it’s not too late already. I note your comment is from March and it’s now November. Hope she stayed sober to now and well done if she did.

  • Chloe

    Thank you for this helpful advice. It would be insane to keep alcohol in the house at this point. It would be very selfish, cruel, and heartless. I mean, how could you truly love the person and dangle it in front of them like that. Foolish indeed!

  • Caitlyn

    Kathy Michael:
    I suggest if it’s not too late for your friend that she openly pulls out the bottles from their “hiding places” in front of the husband and tells him ‘I want no alcohol in the house. If I find it I’m getting rid of it’ and then proceeds to empty it down the drain and says in no uncertain terms that that is what is happening to any alcohol in the house. If he wants to drink, go out to the pub and drink there but no more alcohol in our house.

    After emptying a few of these so called “hidden bottles” its going to get expensive for him and he’ll stop. Plus he’ll realise his attempts at sabotage are futile. It might even help to have a friend or family member around as a witness as she empties the bottles to shame him on his behaviour. The friend needs to quietly observe but say nothing. It should do the trick plus keep peace in the household.

    It’s a real low act on the husband’s part.

  • Kathy

    Thanks you Chloe and Caitlyn for your responses. I like your way of handling that situation, but unfortunately, my friend rarely confronts him to keep the imagined peace. It’s been nearly a year sober for her, with three one day relapses she immediately dealt with, however my friend needs counseling as much as he does for how timid and afraid of confrontation she can be when it comes to her husband.

    He did stop putting alcohol in the house, and finally began speaking to her just before her first 90 days, but then began inviting her to all his social drinking places & parties, still very much unprotected from that whole scene. She actually goes with him and survives it while he’s shooting tequila and waving the beer around, and of course, this adds new hurts and resentments toward him for the double-life he leads. He’s a bigger-than-life “al-a-non district rep,” duping sincere al-a-noners, perverting the purity of the program, and preaching al-a-non quotes at home, as if he’s truly one of them. I believe he’s so terrified of his own alcoholism that he’s created a smoke-screen to counteract his fears, and this altered reality he lives by keeps her the alcoholic and himself, invincible. Very sad all the way around, for both of them, as their combination could make for a great double-winner partnership if they could both face their biggest fears.

    She allows her resentments to grow by doing nothing, saying nothing, because she “loves” him and wants the marriage to work… (what marriage?) She forks over half her paycheck directly to him to earn her keep, isn’t allowed on his bank account or to have any access to “his” money, but she obeys this BS on his terms and avoids counseling… so she couldn’t leave him if she wanted because this keeps her continually broke (and sickly under his spell). It’s no longer “him” that should be the focus… it’s herself now. The cage has several doors but she won’t open any of them, frozen in fear that shouldn’t be this scary.

    She’s agreed to go to Al-a-non in her own setting, not his, so this is a crucial step. She needs both sides of this program to understand the depths of her predicament, and that the ball has been in her court for quite awhile. Hopefully, support from this end will shed some light on her and provide more reason to believe in herself.

    If you want to add more comments, they are surely welcome. I loved your comments, both of you. Prayers for God’s courage and strength for her are always welcome, as well as for her husband. Thank you both 🙂

  • Chloe

    Kathy, your friend’s relationship with her husband sounds really weird. This guy is an alanon rep who takes his recovered wife out drinking and used to hide it in the house? Sounds like he is either hoping she relapses as an excuse to divorce her (another woman, perhaps?) or hoping she relapses to get his drinking buddy back. A truly supportive caring mature spouse would never do anything to reintroduce that poison back into their loved one’s life. I used to enjoy a few glasses of wine on the weekends but didn’t even think twice about giving it up to help my husband. It is poison for him.

  • admin

    Caitlyn, when one of my parents was a closet drinker, I have memories as a teenager of searching all over the house looking for the vodka. She would become a ranging alcoholic when I would pour out her alcohol. Then, she would get in the car and drive to the store, plastered drunk to get more…THANK GOD she finally got totally clean and sober and stayed connected with AA for twenty plus years.

    One of the concepts that is taught in Al-anon is that we cannot control their drinking or cure them. I’ve found this to be a true statement. We can learn how to set healthy boundaries though. I love the concept of setting a boundary and then reinforcing the boundary if necessary. Learning how to have tough love is a must in these difficult situations. Learning how to handle an out of control alcoholic takes time.

    As for a recovering alcoholic living in a home with a practicing alcoholic, it’s insanity. The best thing the sober one can do is saturate themselves in their recovery program and establish friendships with like-minded sober individuals. That’s one of the major keys to an alcoholic staying sober. It’s when they don’t stay within the safety of the heard that the wolves prey on them.

  • Kathy

    Well put Chloe and Admin writer. A disease that comes with such unfortunate blind-folds takes Divine Intervention and persistence on the victim’s part, but once you put the bottle down and soberly acknowledge the position you’re in, as my precious friend has done, you’d think… well, I don’t even need to say it anymore. I’m not a drinker, so I don’t get some things. I’ve only poured myself headlong into both aspects of the program so as to support my son’s efforts at sobriety, and also work it from a ministry angle for street-people and young people that somehow found their way to my heart. I’m not one of them, I just share in their incredible burden… one I cannot imagine having, and all I can say is that these brave people are heroes to me, at what they’ve overcome. Incredible feats.

    Last night I worked alongside the friend I’d mentioned earlier, on her 4th step, watching her detail her hurts and resentments, all about him, and no where did she check the box that these things affected her “pride”. It was all about emotion and abandonment, a little about financial security, but no pride whatsoever. Observing this fragility, so afraid of loosing her husband, all I could do was encourage her to keep facing her fears, keep writing them down.. “Keep going,” I’d say. “You’re doing great!”

    You can’t blame another person for picking up your own bottle, ever. But this precious person has been so dumbed-down and put down over the last 30 years that it makes us sober (non-drinkers) know in our hearts that wine was used to cope with emotions that became unbearable at home, and when this was pointed out to her nearly a year ago, something enormous clicked for her, she put the bottle down, and for the most part, has had no desire to drink. It was an amazing turn-around, in that she didn’t want to feed into HIS sickness anymore, by drinking. Now that she’s sober, if she could see with the same kind of clarity that staying with him with no new boundaries drawn, feeds into his sickness in the same way that alcohol did, well… I don’t need to say that again either. Much like Stockholm Syndrome, abused people either find a way out or find a reason to stay.

    Thank you both for your input. This was an awesome AA and Al-A-Non combo meeting, and it’s timing was perfect. I needed it, so thank you. We clearly know our boundaries as supporters, and the best we can do is to love them unconditionally and pray for their Higher Power to become Personal to them, faithfully leading the Way.

  • Kellly N.

    My husband and I have been married for 11 years and have 2 young boys. We began our relationship with lots of partying with drinking and drugs. The drugs fell to the wayside once we started our family and the drinking at bars and with friends did as well. However, in the past 5 years, we had both started to finish a bottle of vodka together in one night at least once a week. We would cut down and then end up in the same place. He started getting violent and verbally abusive. I was just sloppy. I finally had enough and went to AA and was sober for three months. My attitude towards drinking completely changed and I felt and still feel, that I can drink moderately and enjoy drinking socially and having a few glasses of wine at home in the evenings. My husband continued to drink excessively and become more angry and violent. I have many ultimatums and he finally hit bottom when I asked for a divorce. Instead, we separated and he promised to get in a program and show me he would fight for his family back. Well, he has been sober for 5 months and is finally back home. I said I would not drink for 30 days to show my support but planned on drinking normally going forward. He relaxed once because he found a be of wine in our pantry, not hidden but also not in his face. He said he found “my stash” and went out and had 3 beers. I felt like that was a clear sign he is not strong in his recovery and he felt like I was hiding and not being honest. We worked through it and agreed I could drink normally but not in his face. I want to add that the program he is in is notAA and they believe that medication that can help you not drink is fine. So along with naltrexone he is also smoking weed and eating edible marijuana wjhich is leagL in our state. Last I feel that despite our agreement that I can drink moderately he looks down on me for not being sober with him. But he gets home after a hard day and smokes. Or at a party or wherever he’d normally drink. But he expects me not to drink. I hate smoking pot so that is not an option. My question is: can I drink or not? Why? I feel resentful that after all the years of abuse and sacrifice I’ve made, now here am am sacrificing again.

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