How to Stop Losing Your Temper With an Alcoholic

A never ending battle rages when we keep losing control of our temper. This is normal when dealing with an alcoholic. Unless you’ve been to support group meetings designed to help people cope with alcoholism, it can sometimes be a losing battle.

There is hope for you though, even in the midst of all of your despair. I too use to get really angry with the person in my life who would not quit drinking. Even after I started learning how to control my temper, when interacting with this family member, I still would get set off into a fit of rage occasionally.

Here are a few tips:

Just realize that there are millions of people in this world trying to cope with people who are abusing alcohol. You may feel like you’re the only one in the world battling these emotions of anger, but you are not.

Here’s the main problem, it is called obsession!

You are going to have to start learning how to stop the obsessive thinking that causes you to lose your temper. When we get so focused on an alcoholic’s behavior that we can’t stop thinking about what they are doing, that’s when we find ourselves in serious emotional trouble.

Our anger slowly begins to heat up very much like a pot of boiling water. We must learn how to turn the thing off before it has a chance to overheat. If we can start doing this we will start being kind to the alcoholic rather than ripping them to shreds all of the time.

The way we do that is by changing “our” behaviors because the alcoholic is not going to change theirs.

How am I going to stop obsessing over an alcoholic?”

You are going to need more help than this small article will give you. I highly suggest that you get involved with support group meetings for people dealing with alcoholics. It is there that you will really begin to learn how to stop losing your temper with your spouse, child, friend, boss or co-worker who is the problem drinker.

Try these suggestions:

Here’s the key to your freedom, it’s all a matter of changing your focus. Find things to do that you enjoy rather that allowing the behavior of another person to consume your thoughts.

Please, start keeping a journal of the events of your day, especially the times when you have been interacting with the problem drinker in your life. By doing this, you will begin to recognize what the triggers are that are causing you to get angry.

Before you let anything come out of your mouth directed toward the alcoholic, make sure that it is kind, necessary to say and the truth.

Force yourself to change your behaviors by not driving by places to see what they are up to. Consider not calling them to check up on them. If they call you, don’t analyze them to try and figure out if they’ve been drinking or not.

When you mess up and lose your temper…just start over. If you must start over ten times in one day, then that’s OK; “just do it!” It’s good to live by the rule of “progress not perfection.”

There are a ton of things that you can learn that will help you stop losing your temper with an alcoholic.

Just do this right now, START OVER! Forgive yourself for having unacceptable behavior toward the alcoholic in your life. This is the first step toward getting free from all of the emotional turmoil that you have been going through.

Find some friends who understand what you are going through by attending a few meetings designed to help people cope with alcoholism. Trust me, that’s where you will find the answers that you are searching for.

21 comments to How to Stop Losing Your Temper With an Alcoholic

  • Bruce

    JC: Thank you! Because of this site I have been able to get over my ex and her drinking problem. You have showed me how to move on. Your advice is very helpful. My ex tried to start a fight last week. When she tried to argue I just said sorry you feel that way. That stopped the fight.

  • Denise

    Hi JC,
    We are going to be grandparents for the first time and I would love to think he is going to change. But I know in my heart of hearts he will not. I get so mad sometimes and say things -quite loud- under my breath.This has me crying again for all the wrong reasons and so angry I feel I will explode. Miserable at times but I muddle through day by day. I honestly don’t get it. He has become a binge drinker. When I go visit my son, well, you can figure out the rest. And on, and on, and on.

  • JC

    Denise, congratulations and thanks for sharing the great news! When I became a grandfather for the first time a friend gave me a plaque that says: “When a baby is born so is a grandfather”! It’s a new season in life.

    In relation to your struggles, remember that you can start over anytime. Even if you have to do so 100 times in a day, you can start over. NEVER GIVE UP! You can and will learn how to live a more serene life! The rewards of accomplishing your goal will be worth the effort.

  • Bonnie

    I try so hard but find I am easily angered by his selfishness. It just never ends. I try to detach and am embarrassed by my response. I will not be able to continue without a solution.

  • I have decided to stop being angry toward my alcoholic son but the obsession over what he is doing or if he is sober, which is not often, continues. I live with an alcoholic although he he continues to drink everyday is not out of control. I struggle every day and am losing hope he will ever stop. He at this point could die. Lost his license so I am the only way he can get around and I have now set rule only when sober so he is alone alot which doesn’t help. Lost his job and wife also. Out of hope

  • Lisa W.

    Hi JC and anyone that can offer and suggestions. I can take what I want and leave the rest.
    I currently (right now) am setting with my alcoholic husband of 29 years. He is going through detox from drinking non stop for 16 straight days. We where separated for those days. I have a very hard time subjecting myself at watching him slowly destroying himself!! I go to Alanon groups when I can. But this has got to be the toughest things to watch in my entire life!! He has got through the 36 hour mark. This is the very first time in his 52 years that he is now willing to go into a 30 to 60 rehab program. He is a very successful business man and we own two very successful thriving companies. I’m feeling very anxious at wondering if rehab will even help. He has been a functioning and non functioning alcoholic since the age of 17 and is now 52. I’m trying hard not to loose hope. Digging deep for my faith in God for sure! I suffer from Crohn’s disease. So this is obviously taking a toll on me physically as well. But I’m hanging in there. I can honestly say I love my husband unconditionally! I am not perfect and very far from it! I have been loosing my timber a lot! Because I do love him so much and just want it all to stop! I take one step forward and fourteen steps back. I need help to find strength within me to Cary on. I know I’m obviously still with him for a reason. But my flesh is week. ANY suggestion from you JC or anyone would be great.

    God bless, we are all in this together; Lisa

  • Gina

    Lisa W., take 1 day at a time, that’s all you really have control over. What’s in the past is over, the future is unknown so don’t predict. Stay focused on today and what you can do for yourself today. Wake up each morning and say outloud 3 things you’re grateful for. On your phone install inspiration and motivation apps and read them daily, that was my routine, 1st I read One Day At A Time then my inspiration apps then I would call into the Al-anon phone meetings for an hour. Really helped me to find myself and focus on me again and not the alcoholic. It’s hard to let go of “taking care” of them but who’s taking care of us? Nobody…only us. Keep taking steps forward even if they’re baby steps, you’ll get past this hurdle. Take care of your needs now and allow him to take care of his.

  • Lisa W.

    Thank you Gina for offering your suggestions. I am greatful for them this morning. I am extremely struggling today! My husband got through the danger portion of detox and backed out of going to rehab. He is now saying that he is going to go to what is called “SMART recovery ” he has gone to AA meeting over 20 years ago and they obviously did not work for him. He said he’s going to go to counseling. He’s done that before too and quit. I’m trying so hard to push a 30 day intense rehab program because he has been told and he himself has told me that the next time he goes into a binder he more than likely will not make it out of it alive. THAT SCARS THELUVEN DAYLIGHT OUT OF ME!
    I had promised him that if I help him through this last detox that he would have to go into a rehab program this time. Or I could not stick around and wait for the next one. I felt like I need to stick to my word. So we are now separated. He is telling me that U bailed out on him. Because he’s going to meeting. I want to show and give support. I just don’t know how without loosing myself in the process. I don’t know if my decision was right or wrong or what? I’m so lost, depressed and just don’t know what direction to turn. I am trying my hardest to do One Day At A Time. I’m just running out of steam and loosing hope in him, myself and life. What do I do?

  • Gina

    Don’t let him manipulate you. Remember this is his disease, not yours. He has to want the help and nothing you say or do will change that. Stick to your words with actions otherwise he’ll never believe you. I know it’s hard. I love my alcoholic too but realize if he wants my help and support he needs to come to me. I’ve spent way too much time worrying about how to fix him, thinking that the more I support him he’ll see we are worth changing for. Trust me it’s not worth the time spent. Not saying give up on him, saying put your energy and time on YOU! You’re worth it. I hate this disease and what it’s done to so many lives. It’s not him I hate, it’s the disease, and that’s what I say to him so he doesn’t think I’m attacking him. He may not be ready to change, doesn’t mean your life stays in limbo until it does. Go enjoy life! Do what puts a smile on your face! We only live once and can’t get this time back, don’t waste it.

  • JC

    Lisa, thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Giving ultimatums and then following through demonstrates you are strong and serious about this situation. I love what Gina said, keep yourself busy doing some fun stuff! Keep the focus on your life. TRUST GOD with your life like you’ve never trusted Him before. You mentioned Al-anon, continue to make room in your life for meetings. Also, I’d encourage you to connect with your Alanon piers on the phone often too. Writing in a journal daily has always helped me to sort out the spaghetti in my emotions. Keep reassuring him of your love for him as you continue to set boundaries and stand firm in the “healthy” decisions you are making to protect your serenity. You will find some helpful tips in this article:

  • Gina

    Lisa, here is the link for the Al-anon phone meetings, very convenient for when you can’t make a in-person meeting. And there is no pressure to say anything. You can just listen if you want.

  • Marie

    My adult son moved in with my husband and I about 4 years ago after a very bad break-up. His drinking was the cause of this breakup. He was married for 15 years and that marriage broke up for the same reason. He keeps losing job after job. He is a very intelligent person whose life is being wasted because of his addiction. He went into detox last year and eventually seemed to be clean. He has a job he loves now, but has started actively drinking again. I can see this job coming to an end in the near future. He still drives and has never had his license taken away. When I know he has been drinking and driving I am frightened to death that he could hurt someone. We have been told by my therapist to ask him to leave and if he is homeless maybe he will release the seriousness of the situation. He hasn’t enough money to get his own place, because with his lat break up he lost most of his money. If he isn’t able to keep this job he will have no money.

  • Denise

    My friend says take it day by day because before long he will be gone. I watched my parents die and they did not want to. With him he just doesn’t care. He says I do not pleasure him anymore. I said to him ” ever go to bed with an alcoholic ” or try to live a life with one? No answer. Not pleasure him anymore? And where did that come from? I almost started laughing!!!! You bet I get angry. So angry I have to leave . I did not sign up for this bullshit! I cannot be nice to him because then I feel like he has won. Won what I don’t know. A disease. I have a hard time with that. Alcohol just makes it o.k. to do and say anything because then they can revert to being an introvert. And in that sick, twisted world everyone is picking on them and they don’t know how hard they have it and how hard it is to live with her (me). I do everything and I am sore and tired. I wish to God he would leave – somehow. Going to visit my 2 month old granddaughter tomorrow. My son will take one look at me and say ” hey, Mom how are you?” And I will smile at him and tell him I love him. Last year at this time I was heading out to California. Retiring in January. The Pacific is looking pretty good right now. A lot of wonderful memories. Thanx for letting me bend your ears. Always, Denise

  • Jenna

    It has been the same for me. All i dream of is being on my own with my 2 kids…but then it scares me to think my AH will have joint custody. I feel guilty making plans after 6pm because I know he has been drinking daily….I get home after 7 and he is sleeping and the kids are on there own they rb6 and 9. I just cant understand how he can work f/t and drink like he does. .I dont even talk to him during the day like we use to call each other 6x a day… We havent been intimate for 14mths and I have no interest…he talks about our future like we r so happy….I think he is CRAZY!!! Any one out there get why he doesnt seem to get it??? I Ffeel guilty, but my kids are starting to get it….I wish I had a magic wand that could carry me to a new place and all would be well with me and my kids….I kringe when I hear him pull into our driveway….never thought I would feel tis way…I have stoppe arguing, but have noticed that he will get madvat the kids more becaue I dont let him get to me…its a horrible cycle!

  • Elizabeth

    After a 5 year relapse ( I met my husband 12 years before when he was already 2 years sober)…and now 3 months of recovery I finally feel EXHAUSTED, almost beyond all comprehension. If I had the past 5 years over again I would tell myself to RUN. I have sat through endless al-anon, aca, coda meetings, been to innumerable counsellors and psychologists, put on an enormous amount of weight due to all the antidepressants and sleeping tablets I needed to maintain a semblance of calm and balance in the house. I realised I didn’t want to leave him as I thought he would collapse, and I felt tremendously guilty, affection for him, blamed myself for being such a silly screwed up al-anon making it worse for him and everyone else. Now he is cheerfully sane and well again rather than feel elated I feel kinda…nothing. Except annoyed that I was so lacking in self-esteem that I got myself all tangled up. I work in an oncology ward, so know the difference between diseases one truly has no control over and ones which the person can choose…just chooses not to right now. Now he has chosen I don’t think I want to wait around until the next time.

  • k

    This is what I found worked for me when things were terribly unbearable.
    My parents, mom passed at 92 and Dad is still alive and is 100. There was a lot
    of guilt I carried into our marriage in caring for them for the last 15 years.
    my husband was a heavy drinker before all of this manipulation with the parents came
    right to my door. How was I going to find any small amount of peace with the
    constant pull of his drinking and respectfully the needs of elderly parents.

    I knew I had to change. It meant giving up most of my social life but I discovered I did not need to give up ME.

    I learned arguing with the Ah only increased the hostility in the home.
    JC helped me address that with his mini course. Using words carefully and
    tenderly in my voice. Simple things like ” I am sorry you feel that way” or
    leaving the room so I was not in the line of his fire of his wordy discourse.
    I read and find pleasure in my garden, when I can get outside. The one thing
    I did not do properly is take care of me. Now I am paying the price of accepting
    their choice of what should be done.

    Please take time for you. If it is wee hours in the morning you may find
    the break playing on the computer. Reading positive material to help you
    reinforce the need for your self to be a happy person. One that can live
    with many problems and issues. I pray for help every day to to be pleasant
    loving and caring person.

    I am elderly my self and leaving is not going to work with the issues at hand
    and running away will solve nothing for anyone. Some caregivers become
    door mats for their AH. Alcoholism is the ah problem. They can only save themselves.
    Remember that!!! You need to know that and remember yourself needs care also. Look
    to be number one in your life and keep a close commitment and love to God. There is
    strength in prayer and you will be thought of often by me and those who believe and entrust
    themselves to their faith. Good Luck. We are all on a long journey and the web site
    is very helpful.

  • Elizabeth

    It is their problem, but they inflict so much pain and verbal aggression, chaos onto those around them, it is just really unfair. They know how to manipulate sensitive kind people as they are sensitive themselves. My kindness was exploited, simply. And when I see how easy it was for him to give up – no chemo, no huge financial burden, no strenuous anything but choosing to just stop, take all the counselling and welcoming meetings and gushing praise he’s getting for being so brave and courageous etc – it makes me annoyed. He’s put untold stress on me, kids and grandkids and now he breezily apologizes yet spends his day feeling ever so proud of what a great guy he is. Had his cake, ate it, destroyed ours and shrugs it off as none of it was/is ever his fault. It’s up to us to accommodate him apparently, drunk or sober. Learned my lesson, not worth it, I’m done, he can find another woman to manipulate into feeling sorry for him and bad about herself!

  • C

    Thank you everyone for your open conversation about a very difficult subject – not arguing with an alcoholic when they provoke us for absolutely no reason. The house can be immaculate, the yard cut and garden thriving – through no help from the A, but it takes a lot to get a thank you or complement!! Denise and Elizabeth sure share a lot of my thoughts.

    I was drawn into constant conflict with my A over the past year or so and finally left two months ago with no contact. He will text that our beloved Maine Coon cat misses me – that was the reason I stayed even though my health was starting to slip. My personality was gone and I found I would laugh so hard when I was out. I want to be me again and he can do whatever he wants. I offered to go to AA with him – even just to a doctor to start getting sober – NOPE!

    I never shared my struggles with either of my sons or their wives. And, our neighbors never knew – but that probably propelled me into a tail spin – focusing on the A and slowly becoming a walking zombie in my community.

    Right now I am in another state looking for a cute place near the beach to heal. One foot in front of another!

  • Denise

    It is a balmy evening here in the Midwest. I am visiting my son and he has made a couple of comments about me at home that are not true. My ah was down here last week spewing shit. I let it roll off my back and shot a look at my daughter-in-law. She smiled at me knowing it was total B.S. Is this what our marriage has come to?? I don’ t even want to go home tomorrow. But my wonderful dogs will be there for me. They are even acting funny. Speaking of funny. He did not go to work today. He didn’t feel good. Hmmm- wonder why? Alcohol ketoacidosis perhaps? My son can’ t understand why I’m not going to get a part-time job when I retire. Why would I when I have to do damn near everything. I’ve had 1 hip totally replaced. Back stenosis, and arthritic hands. No response. My daughter-in- law had tears in her eyes. My granddaughter is beautiful and I kept telling her all day that I love her. She is only 2 months old. I don’ t remember anyone of my parents or Grandparents telling me they loved me. Oh, I take that back, my Mom did a few years before she died. Coulda knocked me over with a feather! My husband couldn’t stand her because she was an alcoholic. REALLY??????? Take Care, Always, Denise

  • Thanks, JC. I really appreciate your videos. It really helps me to realize that my partner who is the alcoholic tells me what I want to hear. I need to think that everything he says may be a lie or just what he thinks I want to hear

  • Delis

    Thanks for this, I need it now. My husband was drunk and let my chihuahua out of the house, didn’t bother to go after her. It’s been 4 days and no sign of the little one, I’m so mad I could hit him. Thanks for the reminder to start over.

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