Detaching From An Alcoholic

What are the ways of detaching from someone who drinks too much? Why would we want to detach form an alcoholic? How can I do this in love when I am so angry at them for being this way? Is loving them still possible after all they have done to me?

This particular subject unfolds into many various roads. I will shed some light and share suggestions on how to separate our emotions from being enmeshed with a problem drinker. Separating ourselves from the way they affect us takes time. It is a process of learning how to do things differently. We don’t really realize it at the time, but our entire lives get all interconnected with everything they are doing and it really affects our behaviors in damaging and negative ways.

Don’t Allow Them to Rent Space in Your Head

You may be thinking; “what does HE mean by that?” Obsessing over an alcoholic is our biggest problem in this situation. The constant looming thoughts in our heads are taking up precious space in our minds. With that being said, don’t allow them to rent space in your head. Find things to do which will change your focus. Read books, exercise, go to the movies or talk to a friend on the phone. Find things that will help your mind DETACH from thinking about them.

Learn to Take Care of Yourself

In the midst of your extremely busy life, learn how to take “out time” for yourself. The alcoholic may not like it that you are doing something to make your SELF happy. That’s OK… do it anyway! When they approach you afterward, just say; “I’m sorry you fell that way” and go into another room.

Understand that alcoholics keep us angry and anxious. We must do things for ourselves in the detachment process regardless of what they think about us. If you are a woman, get your hair and nails done. If you are a man go golfing, fishing or go for a walk. Taking time out to get a massage works really well for relieving stress. You can count on meeting resistance from them, but you have to start taking care of yourself regardless of what they think.

Detaching From What They Think

Because an alcoholic uses anger to try and control us, we must not get upset when they voice their disapproval of when we take care of ourselves. If you get involved with alcoholism support group meetings, the alcoholic will try to goof up your plans. They might say something like; “why are you going to those stupid meetings?” It’s possible they will try to create an argument with you just prior to you leaving for a meeting. It doesn’t matter what they say. Take care of yourself and make your support group meetings and recovery literature the most important part of your life.

Detaching From The Phone

You have a choice…you can either answer the phone or not answer it. You also have another choice. You can either listen to a message they have left you or delete it without listening. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LET THEM UPSET YOU ON THE PHONE. If they are getting out of hand, kindly say; “I’m going to hang up now. I’ll talk to you later.” Then gently hang up the phone. If they leave you nasty messages, don’t listen to them. If the start calling you repeatedly, don’t answer the phone. This is how we detach form the negative influences that an alcoholic has on our lives.

In a sense we are protecting our own emotional self.

How to Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic
Detaching from the old behaviors of arguing with them takes a while. You will have to learn how to keep your mouth shut. When you sense an argument is starting, tell them that you love them or really care about them and then say; “I don’t care to discuss this right now.” You can then go into a different room, close the door and read a book or watch TV. It doesn’t matter what you do…just find something to do other than to argue with them. Learning how to not fight with an alcoholic takes time. This is why it’s important to get involved in support-group meetings for friends and family of alcoholics.

Detaching from the way we have been doing things is a huge subject. We must learn how to separate ourselves from feelings of guilt and shame.

How To Enjoy More Peace and Serenity

  • We learn how to avoid getting into arguments.
  •  We stop getting into the car and driving around to try and find them.
  •  We quit snooping around in their stuff trying to find their stash.
  • We stop obsessing over the alcoholic’s behaviors.
  • We learn how to just get in bed and go to sleep when they aren’t home late at night.
  • We detach from confronting the lies.
  • We learn how to let go and let God deal with them.
  • We stop calling them to check up on them.

There are so many things effecting your life right now from the alcoholic’s behaviors that it’s going to take a while to learn how to do things differently. Little by little, “one day at a time” things will get better as you learn more about how to detach from an alcoholic.

When dealing with an alcoholic, learning loving detachment techniques is vitally important. As we grow in knowledge about alcoholism and how to handle dysfunctional situations better, we start understanding that enabling and detaching are very closely related.

As you continue reading you will learn various methods of separating yourself in a loving way from the destructive behaviors of someone else who is close in your life. These lessons can be applied to many different types of relationships.

The more co-dependent we are and enmeshed with someone, the harder it is to distinguish where we begin and they end. When they are happy, we also are happy. When they are angry our emotions are affected in a negative way as well. We can learn how to not flow with the mood swings of an alcoholic. It’s just going to take making a few changes and doing that “one day at a time.” Remember to go easy on yourself. These changes are all about making progress and not necessarily about doing everything perfectly. If you mess up, just start over.

Let me just trow out a few…

Suggestions That Will Help You Detach from an Alcoholic:

  • Get involved in Al-anon support group meetings. Al-anon is a great organization to try.
  • Read literature on the subject
  • Start developing friendships with people from your support-group meetings
  • Take notes during meetings
  • Start keeping a journal
  • Make this new lifestyle the number one priority in your life

Now here are a few…

Methods of Detaching From A Problem Drinker:

  • Kindly say, ” goodbye” and hang up the phone
  • Refuse to listen to phone messages after you hang up and they frantically call you over and-over again.
  • Quit investigating what they are doing
  • Read books or go visit with friends
  • Shut your mouth when you are angry at them and go into another room
  • Don’t look at them trying to figure out if they’ve been drinking
  • Get your own life by doing things you enjoy doing without them
  • Don’t allow them to rent space in your head,. Stop thinking about them all the time
  • Arguing with an alcoholic accomplishes nothing. Refuse to partake in the chaos
  • Let go of them completely and stop trying to control their behaviors
  • Go for walks
  • Talk on the phone to friends or relatives
  • Take up hobbies again

When We Start Detaching-We Stop Enabling.

This new way of acting will allow the alcoholic to suffer the consequences of their actions and also help them to reach their bottom. In separating ourselves from all of their drama, we in turn,  experience more peace and serenity in our own personal lives. Loving the alcoholic by letting go is the goal of this detachment process that we are learning about.

Separating ourselves as an individual in a co-dependent relationship takes time. As we continue attending alcoholism support group meetings and set goals to better our personal lives, it becomes easier to lovingly remove ourselves from the alcoholic’s behaviors. Being kind to an alcoholic will become easier as we learn how to love them differently. Again, this is not something that will happen overnight.

Avoiding The Sting
As time goes on, we begin to recognize the times in which associating with them would not be a good idea. As we continue to learn detachment methods, the sting of alcoholism occurs less frequently.  This works very much like hanging out around a bee hive. As long as you don’t stick your nose in the hive and keep a safe distance, you won’t get stung.

The hard part of detachment from an alcoholic is breaking habitual patterns that we have been doing for a long time. This “just takes time.”  I’ve heard it said:  “if you walk a hundred miles in the woods,  don’t expect to walk out in an hour.”  The same applies to being obsessed with an alcoholic. It takes time and effort to break free from our destructive behavior patterns that we have become accustomed to.

As we begin to detach more from all of their drama, we quit enabling them to depend upon us. It’s hard to do at first because we are so used to rescuing them from everything. When we quit rescuing them and let them suffer the consequences of their actions, we are less affected by their behaviors.

Detaching from an alcoholic means that we let go of them. It doesn’t mean that we quit loving or caring about them. We just learn how to mind our own business and start living our own lives as they continue to drink. Even though we may still get frustrated with an alcoholic, we will react differently  so that WE will remain more calm and experience greater levels of peace within ourselves.

Consider making a list of things that you enjoy doing and start doing them. This can help tremendously in the process of changing our focus.

The alcoholic may not like our changes in behavior, OH WELL! We have to be strong as we start doing things differently. This is why we need the support  of  support group meetings and of friends who know how to help us change.

Loving detachment from alcoholism means that we don’t make decisions based upon the alcoholic’s opinions, moods  or advice in relation to our life. We eventually begin to be hardly affected by their destructive behaviors, views and attitudes toward us.

Now …I know I’ve shared a lot in this session, but just remember to do the best that you can “one day at a time.”

Written By: JC



543 comments to Detaching From An Alcoholic

  • jasonp

    Hang in there K. 🙂

  • K

    I wrote him a letter, I think I will drop it in his mailbox today. Kind of a “Dear John” letter to give me my closure from it all. I’m hanging in there, it’s just tough. Thanks all.

  • J

    That’s a huge step! I know what it takes to do that and I applaud your courage and strength.

  • Sally

    We’re all here for you. Closing the book on a relationship with a drunk is hard, and we all know some of what you’re feeling. Stay strong and reach out to us when you’re feeling weak. It will take a good while before you pass through the stages of grief, but hang on to the thought that it WILL pass and you’ll be at peace and happy again one day. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  • K

    Thank you all so much. I dropped it in his mailbox. I do not know what to expect from him with it. It was a long letter and with alot of emotion. I want him to acknowledge it, but other than that I don’t know what I want from him. Maybe I want him to get help or to be better so we can be together and I don’t have to hurt, but I know that is unlikely. I know in time I will feel better, all breakups are difficult but complicated ones are moreso it seems.

  • Julie

    Not to be a downer K but you may want to make sure you are realizing that he may never see the reality or the truth no matter how many letters you write. I have done this too. But I keep in mind that I wrote the letter so that i can get it off my chest not to make him see the truth and acknowledge it. because not only did that not happen but i do not see it happening in the near future. Sad but true. 🙁 So I hope that you used this letter to make yourself feel better by explaining your actions to him and not only for the hope that he will read it and see the light. I want you to get something for yourself out of writing the letter no matter how he reacts or doesn’t react. REmember you can only change yourself. God Bless and lots of hugs at this challenging time.

  • K

    Thank you Julie. I wrote the letter for myself and also for him. I do hope he would change and see the light but I wrote it for me too, to let him know how I love him so deeply but cannot be with him because of his alcoholism. That I am not mad for his actions but that I hurt for him and I pray one day he has the courage to get better and not let this control him. I said if I thought we could stay together and things would be okay as they are I would do it in a heartbeat, but that I know he will hurt me, and he will hurt knowing he has hurt me(he has said this before). Anyways, I know in my heart I cannot help him but I so desperately wish I could. It is just taking time for me to accept that. In the letter I said I understand that only he can motivate himself to change and that as much as I want to be his motivator I understand that I am not, and that it hurts but I really do understand. It was an emotional letter and it does help me feel some closure. But I think I need to hear from him one last time before I can really feel it.

  • Lise

    I am trying to learn to detach from my alcholic husband. I have filed for divorce and am still trapped in the craziness of his addiction. He still lies and manipulates and is verbally abusive “while drinking” with me.Then so sweet and charming when not. I love him even while going through the divorce. I just knew to have peace and stability in my home this had to happen. We have two children whom he and I are suppost to raise. I worry terribly that he not going to be able to stay sober while he has visitations. In the past when he has his binges he just stays away and dosent call for 3 weeks at a time. The children suffer anyway it happens. I want to hear how I am suppost to detach and not control while still keeping my children safe. any ideas would be so helpful!

  • Sally

    Lise, of course he still lies and manipulates and is abusive to you. It’s what drunks are and how they operate. You don’t matter in the world your husband inhabits as long as he’s drunk. If you’re concerned about any visitation involved, talk to your lawyer about it. You may be able to get supervised visitation or set it up so that if your ex- shows up to pick the children up and he’s drunk you get to say no to the visitation. Either way, it’s going to be a source of worry for you, and you’ll have to learn to deal with it. Make sure your kids know by heart telephone numbers of people they can call to come get them, and that they know when and how to call 911. It’s not a perfect solution, but it will go a long way to making things easier for you and the kids. Stay strong and stay focused on the life you want. Your ex- isn’t going to give up booze to join you. So few of them ever do. You’re in my prayers.

  • JC

    K, so sorry to hear about the most recent developments. Take care of yourself. Connect with your close friends and family. Do things you enjoy. Get your nails done. Take a bubble bath. Buy yourself something new to wear. Fix your hair a different way. Do some of your favorite craft activities. Rearrange the furniture. Go to the movies. Get lost in reading a good book. Take time to exercise.Go fishing, rollerblading, walking or jogging. Put on your favorite music and let it lift your spirit. Just do whatever you love to do, even if you feel miserable doing it.

  • K

    Thank you all. He emailed me within hours of me putting the letter in his mailbox. It was a heartfelt message from him. He placed absolutely no blame on me and explained how deeply he loves me but that he needs to get help for himself and he doesn’t feel ready and has no idea when that would be, if ever. He said I am an amazing person and us being apart has solely to do with his inability to be the man I deserve. It was heart wrenching to read. He said my letter brought him to tears and everything I said was true. He said he still wants me in his life and that he doesn’t want to lose me. He said he doesn’t want to hurt me again and that it truly kills him when this happens. I wish there was a way for us to be together and yet protect me from his binges and how he acts. My friend told me that even if that’s possible it doesn’t mean that isn’t a part of him and that I will always be hoping for change. I texted him to see of he’d like to talk and he told me he needs a few days even though it is killing him, because he wants to make sure he makes a decision that will not hurt me more. And I definitely respect that and will give him his space. If he decides that nothing can work then I will accept it and move on. I am happy knowing he loves me(although I didn’t not know that), but I am more at peace now then before.

  • I guess I am pretty destroyed right now because I am still in shock that my husband
    can not or will not do something for himself to get better…he writes that he is sorry
    and he wants our marriage back like I am the answer he is looking for to save him….I know now that our marriage can not be saved unless he gets help first for himself…I am
    so very sad that I lost him to the disease or devil…this is not my husband….I keep praying that someday this nightmare will end…thanks for listening
    B 468x60 Graphics

  • K

    Linda I feel for you. I want to shake him and tell him to get help you are losing the things you love!! How powerful addiction can be, it is devastating to know someone will allow relationships(and in your case marriage) to fall apart because of a substance, that a substance has more weight in a person’s life than other humans! It makes me so sad, but I pray for you that one day he will get help for him as I pray my boyfriend will get help too.

  • lise

    Thank you Sally for your response. I am going through the lawyer and drawing up such a document. I am just trying to stay strong and not allow my whole day to revolve around whether he is drunk. The one day at a time thing is what I am working on right now, not allowing my mind and anxiety to race forward. My codependency is just rampant!! I am moving forward with my life with my kids and that is very threatning to him..surprise..surprise. I told him what my boundries are and now I am not budging. I just want peace in my life. Take care everyone and take care of most importantly yourself.

  • lise

    Linda, The shock will take awhile to process. Just know that this disease is very powerful. I read in a book that asking a drunk not to drink without treatment is like asking a person with pnemonia to not cough without antibiotics. No matter how much you plead, beg, and scream it will never do anything but bring you down. He has to change for himself or it will never stick. I had to learn this the hard way. I pray for your peace and just know your not alone out there. Lots of us know how your feeling.

  • M

    For anyone struggling to “detach” I can recommend Al-Anon. And for children who will be exposed to the insanity of a parent caught up in an addition there is Al-Ateen.

    I had an immediate intellectual understanding of what I needed to do when I went to my first Al-Anon meeting. But, at least for me, it was not an instant thing. It was, and still is, a process. I came to terms with the fact that I am losing 6 people I care about to chemical dependency issues in October. So I have had 2 months.

    The process affected me profoundly. I was in college; I ended up withdrawing from my classes to grieve my losses. I began working a 12 step program for myself. I actually did have a spiritual awakening (step 12) as a result of Al-Anon and my 12 step program. Slowly, day by day, the joy is returning to my life. I am a musician and composer and I have the courage and the motivation to do something with my talent instead of sit and cry all the time. One day at a time, it is getting better.

    I found a lot of help, oddly enough, in an online blog called My Immortal Alcoholic. A lady has chosen to be the caretaker for her end stage alcoholic husband, Riley. This gives a lot of REAL information about what is down the path of the addictive disease of alcoholism. For me, it removed any “denial” about how serious this disease is. Reading the AA “Big Book”from cover to cover was also helpful. I checked it out from the public library. People from every walk of life told their stories. It helped me to come to terms with the fact that addiction can involve ANYONE.

    Every day I include “everyone suffering from an addiction, and their families” in my meditation. It is all I can do. My life is still of value and I am moving on. I have turned these people over to my Higher Power. I still have “crying jags” but I accept them as part of the process.


  • J

    I have read that blog and it cleared up ANY question that I may have had in my mind about what was in store if I chose to stay in my relationship. That woman is living a nightmare in my opinion, and bless her for sharing it. Reading that helped to cement my decision in my heart and head. It’s still overwhelmingly sad, and I pray that our loved ones don’t get as deep as her husband is, but praying and sending them love in meditation is all I can do. I use this prayer and visualization, maybe it will be helpful to you all as well..

    Heavenly Father, Thou art Omnipresent, Thou art in all Thy children.
    Manifest Thy healing presence in our bodies, minds and souls.

    Raise your hands and visualize healing light coming through you and being sent out to your loved ones as you chant Om.

    You can read more about this technique and get a better explanation about it here:


  • ty

    Hi everyone,

    i have been reading all of your comments for the past 2 days trying to gain some strength from all the good advice you all have, im falling appart as i type this and i dont have anyone to talk to so i figured to write it here to get it out of me.

    3 days a go while on a business trip with my boyfriend to hongkong, we got into an argument and sometime during the fight his passport broke apart, as a good alcoholic he placed the blame on me and maybe i did have some guilt on it but if it was, it wasnt intentional, for the past year he has been on and off alcohol, being sober for 3 months and going to back to it for a few weeks, with the alcohol also come drugs and he becomes very violent towards me, like all his rage is focus on me… always me, no one else.

    anyways, after this whole passport incident he started drinking again, heavily and he would terrorize me about it 24 seven to the point where he slapped me a couple times then i decided that was it and i left, took a taxi to the airport and got on the first plain back home, he still terrorizes me, calling me all the time at any hour of the day to tell me nasty nasty things that really hurt me, but tonight just a few minutes a go he called, and he sounded really f*** up, he said he tried to buy coke but they must have given him something else cus he felt like c**p, while he is mumbling i could hear a womans voice in the background all the sudden this woman took from him and told me to “go away” just to hung up the phone on my ear.

    i am absolutely heart broken, i know i will be fine and all but right now it feels like my whole world is crumbling down, im not gonna stay tho, i already booked a ticket back home (we live in sweden, he is swedish im not) which also makes it a lot harder on me, since i dont know anyone here, nor i have family around… pretty much no one, i feel so much pain right now, but doesnt matter how many times i tell to myself that i do not deserve this, that he doesnt deserve to be loved the way i love him, that no one should go thru this and that i have a choice, a choice to leave and live a better life, i still feel soooo horribly right now and im having this crazy thoughts that it is all my fault, that maybe if i had put up with it a bit more and stayed in hong kong with him he wouldnt be doing drugs, he wouldnt be doing hookers, i have this enormous sense of guilt

    maybe i didnt do enough, maybe i didnt try hard enough, maybe maybe maybe, this maybes are driving me crazy because they are stupid, i knoooow they are, i knoooow it is not my fault nor i have control over it, but i cant seem to get rid of this thoughts and this guilt

    i know my writing is aweful right now, i cant even see the screen clear… i just need it to let it out somewhere, to someone

    thanks for listening or in this case reading

  • Timothy

    TY, thanks for sharing your story. I know this is really difficult for you right now. Detaching from an alcoholic is never an easy process. Be kind to yourself, it’s not your fault that he is drinking.

    For the next few days use the acronym H.A.U.L.T. Just make sure that you are not hungry, angry, lonely or tired. This is a great way to take care of yourself.

    You may want to study this article on detachment again. It is filled with great tips that you can use in the situation that you are in.

  • Ty,

    My heart goes out to you.

    My alcoholic partner has just been put into prison as I refused to give my address as a bail address, for the first time, he has caused me so much trouble with my landlords. I now have to seek legal advice due to this. He called me from prison last night and said “I dont like you, I dont like you, I dont hate you, I have no cigarettes and am stuck in here”, he gave me his prison number and put down the phone!!!!! I feel so guilty for this and also keep thinking if only this and if only that, and maybe I should have done this or that, it is driving me crazy. Really not sure where to go from this point. I know I havnt caused this but still feel if I had done something different, the result would have been better. My love and thoughts are with you, please take care x


  • SC

    It’s not your fault. The problem is… they do not take responsible and they are not honest with themselves, much less us. Most people by nature feel a sense of caring for the other person and would not want the other to feel responsible. This is why as adults we have to communicate. If I tried to communicate with my xah, he would get angry and act like I was trying to start a fight. We can’t have a good connected relationship if someone can’t mirror back the same.

    I was watching an old rerun of Dr. Phil, he was talking to
    actor Danny Bonaduce (alcoholic) wife and told her an
    alcoholic stops maturing at the age they start drinking.
    That’s why you have a grown man responding like an adolescent.

    I still miss my x and feel the loss of the good side to him. Christmas is hard this year but I will never get involved with an alcoholic or a recovering alcoholic again. I cannot allow myself to be this disappointed and hurt again. I deal with regret and have a strong sense of not being good enough. Please take care of yourself, you are all you have.

  • K

    Hi all. My bf and I tried to get back together, slowing things down, me setting boundaries to protect me. But now, he is lashing out when I ask things of him, as if I cannot be a real partner anymore but someone who compromises myself but not he. If that makes sense…that it is his world, and that I forced him to be together, etc. I don’t know, some of my friends are starting to say, it is not worth fighting for. I still love him deeply, but why should I put myself through this hell if he isn’t going to fight for me.

  • J

    It’s been my experience that to accept what my ex was doing and how he was living and treating me, I had to be hit over the head with it about a thousand times. Not saying everyone has to go through that but I did. It boiled down to this; I was trying to make sense of and understand his behavior and actions so I could process it and make peace with it. Turns out, that was the wrong approach because I can’t understand it, and nobody can unless they are living that life. So every time he did something crappy or went against his word or whatever, it left me trying to connect dots and figure it out. I learned that the only thing that needed figuring out was why was I still in a situation that was so unacceptable and unloving on so many levels (and yes, it is unloving even though you love him and he says he loves you…) K, I would say to you that it’s a normal thing to keep approaching this from different angles, trying to come to a workable solution. I will also say that you will eventually be left with two options… live with and accept him and what he offers you as a boyfriend or leave that behind and find love that actually nourishes your being and isn’t chaotic. No matter how many times he’ll say it, he does not love you because he can’t love you. He can’t even love himself. His idea of love is to put up with his addiction, enable it, and shut up about it. That’s not love. You will find your way through it. Keep your head up.

  • K

    Thank you J that is very comforting. I know you are right…I will just need to find my way. Thank you so much.

  • K

    Well we split, now I think it is for good. I’m really sad and hurting, but what can I do. I know I will feel better…I said so,e goodbyes via Facebook to some of his friends and they have been so kind to me and have had nothing but nice things to say. It is good to know I was liked and so many had said they were shocked, I’m a great influence, they really enjoyed getting to know me, it’s a shame, etc. Some of them know his problems with alcohol and others don’t. Either way, I guess it is for the best. I will miss him terribly but I know I deserve more. Thank you all for your continued support it has really meant alot. I feel like breaking up with an alcoholic is so different than a “normal” relationship. It will take me longer to heal.

  • M

    I would like to hear from anyone who has “brought to the light” an awareness of the increasing problems of an alcoholic only to then be shunned by the portion of the family still in denial, including the people with the drinking problem. I have 3 adult sons. Two are alcoholics in my opinion. They have broken all contact with me and are in total denial about the extent of their addictions. My youngest son is NOT an alcoholic. He can admit that his brothers drink socially more than he would, but does NOT want to hear anything from me that would interrupt his denial that his brothers have gone beyond social drinking. I feel crazy after spending some time with my youngest son. I am going to a 12 step program later to deal with how crazy I feel.

  • C

    M: I believe the denial has nothing to do with you. Family and friends have learned not to get involved in drama – especially when it concerns alcohol. You cannot control anyone who drinks. There is enough literature on the internet often to let us know only they are able to control their addiction.

    You have raised your sons – you did the best over the years, and now it is time for you to take a cruise, day trips, work out with friends, ride a bike, join a ski club or go to your local expresso cafe regularly and meet new people. Your sons have to live their lives and learn lessons.

    If you back off and get involved in new activities, your sons will miss your company – they will be in awe of you and start to make contact. Best to keep conversation light and upbeat.

    Only my thoughts – I wish you a happy life, and sometimes it means going off on your own and beginning a new life! Take good care.

  • JC

    M, family members seem to be a little harder to detach from at times, perhaps there are too many strings attached. Regardless of how many strings there are… what C has shared is the best medicine. Let go of the alcoholics, other family members and take care of yourself. It’s great that you have an awareness of what is happening. Now it’s time to learn how to cope with the insanity of alcoholism so you can have a more peaceful life. Focusing on yourself is the beginning of finding serenity. You can express love to them in many ways. A simple phone message just saying I love you can make you feel great inside…even if the never listen to it. Make a decision to love everyone regardless of how they all are acting or not acting. Let your expressions be done without any expectations of how they will react. At the end of the day, you will feel great about keeping your side of the street flowing with love.

  • M

    Thanks for the supportive comments. My retired life is NOTHING like what was depicted, however. I was homeless at the start of the year 2012. My retired life is all about survival. I finally found a small but decent place to live. It is not much but it beats life at the homeless shelter. I am looking into getting on waiting lists for rent subsidy programs. I stay alive thanks to the many faith based groups which provide me with free food and other free things. Two of my children do NOT want any contact with me at all. They will NOT miss contact with me. They do NOT want phone messages from me. Their lives revolve around the bottle. I “love” them in some detached mental concept but they are as good as dead to me on a day to day basis. My youngest son is in contact with them and is in total denial about the situation. I just live one day at a time. I get up and do some things toward improving my ability to partake of the government programs which can make my life a little easier. I eat at the soup kitchen. I visit the food banks. I go to the library and read. I am learning to knit. It is a very simple existence. It is certainly nothing like what I imagined this stage of my life would look like. But it is tolerable. I attend Al-Anon meetings and do the best that I can to cope. Thanks for listening.

  • Sarah

    Am struggling with detachment at the moment. Partner is alcoholic who is drinking more and more and refuses to stop. Loads of broken promises, lots of financial bailing out from me and organizing his business etc but now am stopping all of this to try and make a difference.

    Before the Christmas holidays I felt like I had nothing worth living for. Three years into our relationship and I had failed to “cure” him. Bout of rehab in the first year made a difference but every time something goes slightly wrong he hits the bottle. Coping with life’s mundane cycle and problems doesn’t appear to be something he can do.

    So, question is… does detachment really work or am I just doing to be living a lonely life with someone who is on another planet most of the time?


  • J


    The first thing that popped into my head after I read your entry was why are you willing to stay in a relationship with someone that you have to stay emotionally detached from? You already understand what that life looks like and what it holds for you. Detachment does work but its a survival mechanism and in my opinion it’s best used when you can’t get away from the alcoholic, such as if that person is your family member. Have you ever truly heard of someone being happy in a relationship with someone have to curb their emotions for? It’s very difficult to let someone go who is such a mess, of course you want to help him, but you’re not helping him. You are accommodating his addiction and making it easier for him to stay where he’s at, while making your own life miserable. You can still love him and leave. You also need to love yourself enough to know that you deserve a life that makes you happy. We can’t change people no matter how much we love them or want the best for them. I know it’s hard, we’ve all been there in this forum. For me the first obstacle I needed to tackle was accepting that I couldn’t love away his addiction, and that took some time. Be kind to yourself, give yourself time, let things go as much as possible and see how you feel. Best of luck to you.

  • Sarah

    Hi J and thank you for your response.

    I cant “love him and leave”. I own the house. I’ve suggested that he leaves but at the moment there is no sign of that and to be honest he has absolutely nowhere to go.

    When he isnt drinking he is the most wonderful man I have ever met and so kind and caring. I guess thats what makes this all so hard. Living with two different people.

    I’m not kidding myself any longer. I know whats what and I know what needs to happen but as I said, owning the house I cant just walk away.


  • Sally

    Sarah, you HAVE to stop worrying about where your drunk will go. Drunks are some of the most adaptable leeches on the planet. They always find someone else to feel sorry for them and to provide the necessities for them so that their energies and money are available for more booze. You don’t have to “suggest” he leave, you tell him to go. If he refuses, the sheriff or local law enforcement will be happy to help him pack and get out. Then you change the locks, change your phone number or learn to block unwanted callers and get that vertical leech out of your life. Drunks are the elite of guilt-producers – it’s their life-line. How else could so many drunks mooch off of and drain seemingly rational, sane, responsible adults otherwise?

    Of course he’s wonderful when he’s sober. They all are. Problem is they won’t stay sober and be decent people. They’re only able to keep up the pretense for so long before they need the alcohol to ease the monumental strain.

    It’s hard to accept and to surrender to the fact that you cannot and never will be enough of whatever your drunk needs. You are a convenience to him, like a car or a dishwasher is to most other people. You are a means to an end, and that end is him being a drunk with as little bother to himself as possible.

    Sadly, all of us on this forum either are making things easier for drunks to be drunk or we were making it easier. I belong to the “were” class. Coming up on the 1-year mark of cutting all ties, and though it was hard and painful at first, he’s now something I rarely think about. I did get a text from him over the holidays. I didn’t respond. That door’s closed and I’ll never allow it to be opened again.

    Bottom line, when it came down to a choice of him or me, I chose me. I still choose me, and I will always choose me. There’s not a drunk on the planet who’s worth a single one of our lives. Cut your drunk off, boot him out and get on with a real life, because the one you’re living now with him isn’t anything like a real life. Real life doesn’t revolve around just one person, but in a drunk’s world, that’s all there is – just them.

    I know it’s hard to straighten your backbone, screw up the courage and make the move. I know it’s hard to find the strength to stick to your resolve, but I know it can be done. I pray you find the courage and strength to take back your life and leave him to his. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • CC

    Hi All:

    I am starting the detachment myself. My husband of 24 years is a hard worker, honest and good man, but boy does he sure like the beer. I recently (right before Christmas) decided to start living my own life. I have gone on several online sites, which give me alot of strength, but I cannot believe how much I have enabled him and the mistakes I made to myself just to keep peace.
    I am starting to feel a bit of peace with the help of my beliefs, but it is sure hard to accept that someone would rather drink, then have a good, wholesome relationship. His dad was the same way, his step dad always encourages him to drink when we go over there, and his mom has to drink as well every day. Looks like I am in this alone, but this time, I WILL DO IT!!!
    Thanks all for letting me vent.

  • sharon

    hi i know how living with a drunk is i know i cant change him so i have to change me i will work on that thank you Sharon.

  • C

    Living with someone who thinks only of himself gets old quickly. But, add constant alcohol, and you are there but no one else is in the house. They live in their own world. Believe everyone that it only gets worse. They take the best of you and still complain and abuse.

    I am not willing to spend time with anyone who drinks to cope with their life. I went through a divorce with a 6 year old and a new baby after moving to a state away from family and friends. Never did I think of drugs or alcohol to help me – it was one step in front of the other and I made my own miracle. I have no time for an alcoholic.

  • JM

    Hi there,
    Your comments and experience have given me more of understanding the behaviour of an alcoholic. ThankYou. How similar they behave – denial, lie, hurt, drag down their loved ones who try to help them.

    I have lived with a man for 7 years. I have never seen anyone drinks that much, particular in the last 2 years. He drinks everyday. His drinking capacity increased from a bottle of wine to a couple of bottles of hard liqueur a day.

    He survived from minor stroke, cancer, yet he still smokes and drinks heavily. I tried to help him to get him cut down for the sake of his health, for that we had a lot of fights.

    As a result of that, for the last 2 years, I experienced continues angry mood, that stress finally affected my work, and my health. I had to quit job in July 2011.

    Since then, I did a lot of researches to study my emotional health, try to understand why I was in the angry mood all the time? Your stories helped me to understand why I was angry and how the alcoholics behave. The reason that I was angry because I try to help him to quit drinking, but it didn’t seem happen. The harder I try, the hard he drinks. By understand that principle, I am able to slow to re-adjust and calm down. I have tried to not get angry since November 2011.

    We had a number of talks in the past 2 years, each time he agreed to stop. But each time, he sobered a couple of days, then started to drink again.

    I suggested him to join AA, he said he would ring tomorrow, but never did. It appears that he is not interested to get help at all.

    Then I suggested to end relationship, asked him to leave as we live in my house. He agreed but hasn’t done anything (his property was rent out). How do I get him to move out?

    It is start of 2013, I have decided not let him to destroy me again even through he is a lovely person when sober.

    I have started looking for a new job, this time, I wouldn’t be in the angry mood all the time.

    I have decided to attend my local Al-anon meetings to learn more and help myself.

    For everyone who dealing with an alcoholic, please do look after yourself first. Don’t let the alcoholic destroy your life. If he/she isn’t willing to help self, why should you bother? Stay away. You deserve happier life without such misery caused by somebody else problem.

  • I have 35 years time invested with my husband next month….I wish I didn’t feel that I wasted my whole life living a lie. My husband joined AA in the middle of our marriage and stayed in for 12 years…I thought my prayers were answered until he quit going and started drinking again about 12 years ago..thats when all bets were off…I did not think things could get any worse than the first time around but they did. More infidelity, more lies, more very bad financial decisions, more blaming me etc. I am devestated and depressed and tired. I cry everyday…..should I hope that someday he will come back…most people say NO..move on..not too easy to do. How do you forget 35 years. I am just trying to accept whats happened and live one day at a time and hope that I find some peace within myself before I die. Good Luck to anyone involved with an alcoholic…My mother and my 2 brothers were alcoholics. My mother died and never recovered and so did my 32 year old brother. My other brother got help and has been great help to me..He is the miracle..My son is in the program and doing good right now but I do worry about him because of the family history..I pray that God takes care of him. Thanks for listening.

  • Laura

    After being with a man for 7 months drinking everyday I am now going to have to try and detach myself from him . All of the comments I have read have really made me see that ALL alcoholics lie and are manipulative. He has been in jail for 5 days and it has been such a joy not having him here drinking day in and day out. He is due to be released in 9 days. I am all he has besides his beer and smokes, but am going to not allow him to return to my home. I am going to continue to follow this website to give me the courage I need to break away.

  • Karens

    Linda, I can relate, 27 years. What can we do? Our
    world is falling apart. Third marriage for me. Now
    he has moved his meth addict daughter in. I sometimes
    feel like I am the one going crazy. Their decision making
    Lacks credence. Yet, they are happy to not help, accusing me of being stupid by not complying to their will.
    It is tough, good luck for your son.

  • Nikki

    Hi everyone,
    I am in a situation where l have been married for 6 yrs to an alcoholic and after many separations l realize l have been living in denial the whole time. Two months ago I kicked my husband out yet again because of the lies and sneaking his drinks l had enough.But since going to al-anon meetings l took it all so personal and having trust issues the marriage was doomed but he has a disease and its not my fault which kinda helps.Its only early days this time and here is my predicament, after being strong and having no contact after about a month he continually said he was sorry and brought me an expensive ring and yes I know what hes doing its just a hook but I love him this is so hard. We have since been on a couple of outings together and he was sober. But then I start to obsess as to whether when he gets back to his place he lives with my aunty everyone drinks there hes gonna drink there and am I enabling him. He said he wants hes family back we have 3 children and hes applying for a new job and wants to buy us all a house bla bla bla I know. So my question is am I enabling him as at present he can eat his cake to as he said he doesn’t want to come home but still want to have a relationship with me he wont go to therapy I’m trying to stay strong any advice would be great
    thank you.

  • Nikki,

    I just read your comment and I definetly can not fall for your
    husbands manipulation tactics about having a relationship especially if he is still drinking…he needs to fix himself before he can have a relationship with you…I finally learned that lesson and it has taken many years to learn it. You will not be helping if you enable him..he has to suffer consequences to get better. Thats your only chance to get him
    back the way you want him and you will know when it happens….my husband was in AA for over 10 years and it was great but he went out and drank again more than 10 years ago and now I know what I have to do. We have to be strong…it is not easy and I feel for what you are going through.
    Good Luck…

  • Nancy

    I have 2 children (13 & 17) with an alcoholic. We have known each other for 19 years and have been living under the same roof for 15. When the kids were 5 and 1, I left, and although we still saw each other, I lived separately from him for 4 years. During that time both my mom and dad died and his mom and grandmother (who raised him) died. Through inheritance, I was able to buy my first home. The biggest mistake I ever made was to give him, the alcoholic, a second chance. Somehow, he has manipulated his way back into my life and has lived with me and our 2 children for the past 5 years. I have never married him, because I at least refuse to think he is marriage material. I have literally done it all…food, vacations, shelter, all cars, all bills, etc. for the entire time of our relationship. Lately he has paid for their medical, but it’s a very small amount because he joined some special program for people “who have problems finding work.”

    Now I’m stuck, a prisoner in my own home. He has held a job for 6 months now…yaaa, but I’m still not happy. I feel like whatever I do, it has to be BIG this time….I’m talking out of the state or country. I’m months away from finishing my Masters, and my son is on the verge of starting college at a Community College less than a mile away. I don’t want to rip my daughter from her school and friends. What the hell should I do? How am I going to quit my job, a secure one, to start over? I need help desperately. I can’t afford medical for my children. Am I really hanging on to this relationship for my children’s medical? Probably.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m dying. I even sleep with my arms closed in to my chest…all night. I have asked him to leave several times, but I think he is afraid. I know for sure that I’m not afraid of being alone or single. In fact, I love my independence. Why can’t I figure out the real reason as to why I’m still with him. There are times when I love him and feel sure about it, but then there are times when I literally hate his guts. I used to be a very fit person who danced and ran, but since I’ve been with him, I’ve gained 100 pounds. This is how shut down I am. We got in an argument last night. I was trying to point out how dead our relationship is….he knows this and apparently still sticks around. I’m never in the mood for sex because I don’t like him. I told him this, and he says that I”m boring in bed…..well dah…not big news…I fucking hate his guts half the time. I think he has the typical mentality of wanting bouncy athletic sex, ha ha, but I want to be with someone I respect and adore. I want lovemaking, not porn shit. I cannot and no longer want to turn on for this person anymore. I’m done with that aspect. I think the 100 pounds of weight gain has been my attempt to keep him away. I need to get out, but I can’t lose my income. Maybe I should leave my own house, rent it, and stay in an apartment until things settle after a year or two. How do I do this with my kids? I feel so dead inside. Help. I literally need a runaway plan…I need to change my entire life to get away from him. He won’t leave me alone if I stay here. I’ve tried it when I was in an apartment. He wouldn’t stop coming over. I’m his security blanket. He has confused love with security. He thinks he loves me, but he doesn’t. If he did, he wouldn’t have cheated on me when the kids were little. Oh, and the result of that was another child (of his) who lives in another state. I have lost all self-dignity. The counselors I’ve seen have not helped.





  • J

    HI Nancy,

    I’m sorry that you’re going through such a tough time. Please don’t feel that you’ll be judged here, we’ve all been there in one way, shape or form. The first thing that came to mind for me while reading your story is how badly you need some peace. The good news is that you actually have control over that. You have way more power than you are realizing right now and I’m sure that’s because you’re just so beaten down that you don’t feel like you have anything left. I would suggest paring your life down to the absolute basics and don’t take any more on until you get your footing again. The first thing I would do if this was my situation is make him leave. It’s actually not a choice for him, nor does it warrant discussion. He knows everything that you know about your situation and although he will probably act like you’re sideswiping him and he thought everything was fine, it will all be an act to try to manipulate you further. It’s so hard dealing with an addict from a non-addict perspective because we can’t get them or understand what they’re motivation is. So don’t try. You know what your foremost need is in this situation and it’s to get him out of your life as soon as possible. You have control over that, you just need to assert it. Doing so does not make you a bad or uncaring person. He has no right to be in your house, making you and your family miserable while you make all the concessions for him and he makes none for you. Ask your friends to help if you need to for this or get the police involved. They will come over and make sure he moves his stuff out and leaves. Get a restraining order if he won’t take the hint. Get him out and then close every door. Don’t answer his calls, don’t open the door if he knocks, don’t respond to emails. I know all of this sounds harsh but there can be no room left for interpretation. Yes it will be horrible and messy and sad but you can’t negotiate with an alcoholic, as you well know. You sound like you are drowning. Get your peace, that is priority one. Then decide if this giant move is coming from your heart or if it’s coming from desperation. It sounds like the thought of pulling all of that together right now is stressing you out even more. If you truly want to do all of that, then of course go for it. As far as getting help to relocate, I don’t have any resources but I would suggest maybe calling job placement agencies in the areas you’re interested in moving to and asking them for guidance on that. I’m sure they would have some answers for you. Good luck honey, you’re in my prayers.

  • Sarah

    Dear Nancy

    I can definately relate to the “dead inside” feeling. Dont be too hard on yourself. The addiction is a disease and you are living so close to it that it is not surprising that you have lost some of your feelings. One thing that is posetive is that you are not in denial! We can all learn alot from your insight and experience.

    It sounds like you need help on two fronts. One to get YOU back and two all the practical side of jobs housing etc.

    From your post it really sounds like you are ready to seperate yourself from this man and his addiction.You are ready to free your self and you sound like there is still a lot of life and fight left in you! ( i like your straight talking spunky post!) You may not need to run away entirely. This man is another human being. If a friend kept coming around and using you you would probably be able to set a boundary and keep yourself safe.

    You dont deserve to have your life messed up by addiction. Like you said why should you have the stroke you are not even doing the drinking!

    We are here to support you. If you dont want him coming around any more could you set that as a boundary. Maybe to begin with agree to only meet on neutral territory chances are he might find that too much like hard work! Much easier to come round to yours. Its hurtful and difficult to face the fact that alot of addicts dont want to see us if its not on their terms. I know I didn’t want to face the fact that my boyfriend wouldn’t bother with me if he couldn’t make me a codependent to his addiction.

    Are you in Britain or the states? we have citizen advice centres to help with work,accomodation, financial and legal worries. They maybe able to give you the practical info you need. like you say you have managed on your own before so you are a strong intelligent woman. You have overcome these hurdles before. I would get some space between you and the disease first so you can think straight. You said counselors didn’t work. I have been going to one and it Kind of works but I’m thinking of going to a codependent meeting for partners. Iknow alot of my problems come from me but addiction is a weird one and the manipulation is a form of mental abuse.
    I think your anger is justified but who wants to be angy all the time. Let us know how you are doing and how the boundary thing goes.

    Sarah A

  • Sarah

    Hi Nancy and J

    J I loved you post I felt the same it sound like Nancy needs some peace and tranquility away from all the stresses and straines.
    Sometimes we wear our selves out taking care of ourselves and everybody else. If we are doing things for other adults when they are capable of doing it for themselves we are overworking our selves!
    Sarah A

  • uncadiane


    Please do not run away, leave your home, uproot your children, and have to find a new job and a new home. This is going to sound harsh, but THROW HIM OUT! Your home belongs to you and your children; he is a guest. It’s time for him to find his own living arrangements. Of course he’s afraid; he will have to behave like a responsible grown-up. It’s time.

    Give him a date to be out (not more than 4 weeks because you will have to deal with him everyday until that date comes). Once you give him the date, NEVER BACK DOWN OR CHANGE YOUR MIND. He will badger you every single day about this. Just tell yourself that your day of freedom is coming. Plan ahead, Nancy. When the designated date comes, make sure all of the windows are closed and locked, then CHANGE THE LOCKS. If he hasn’t taken his belongings, put them in garbage bags and sit them outside for his convenience in picking them up. DO NOT BACK DOWN! DO NOT LET HIM BACK IN FOR ANY REASON.

    If he continually knocks, calls, stands outside, etc., call the police and tell them you are being stalked. DON’T GIVE IN. DON’T GET SOFT.

    You didn’t say anything in your post about how your teen-aged children feel about this man. I can’t imagine home life is very good, given the tension, anxiety, and anger you are feeling. You ALL deserve to live in peace, without the constant chaos that comes with an alcoholic/addict.

    Nancy, you don’t have to give up your life. You can keep your life. Your children can keep theirs. But you have to GET THE ALCOHOLIC OUT OF YOUR HOME AND YOUR LIFE!

    Please let us know how you are doing.


  • Julie

    Diane I totally agree with what you said. Nancy, I am in a similar situation but have a more difficult time getting him out as we are married and the house is in both of our names. He did get kicked out for domestic violence last year but as we are going thru a divorce he is still in my life and has visitation etc.. However, I have a 14 and 16 year old as well as an 8 year old and I know they all feel the same way and want him out. It is difficult and i am still struggling with detachment as sometimes i feel guilty when my AH texts or leaves voicemails about how sorry i should feel for him. But i remind myself that he never cared about my children or me when he was here treating us poorly and attacking us verbally and physically. He never cared when he cut us off financially for 11 months and paid no support until the courts forced him to. So you see it is all about them. The addict sees no one else’s pain only their own which is self inflicted. You can only save yourself and help your children so concentrate on that. This is so difficult but with emotional support and people around you telling you that you are doing the right thing, it can be done. Alanon and my DV support group have both played a huge part in my changing for the better to get out of this chaotic lifestyle with my AH. God bless and I wish you all the strength to make the right choices for you and your children. And take a few moments to get away and relax. It does do wonders. Let us know how things go.

  • janet

    I recently ended a relationship with an alcoholic.
    I always tried to discuss things with him like I told him I loved being with him
    And his response was I said the L word so when I said what does he mean?
    He said I was starting to obsess

    When I wanted to discuss somthing he made me feel like I was crazy
    Is this a common trait with someone who is addicted to alcohol.

  • J

    Hi Janet,

    In my relationship, that happened all the time. Any time I wanted to discuss things or if I called him out on his bad behavior he flipped it around on me and say I was acting crazy. It usually would happen if he was either already drinking or had the opportunity to go somewhere that he would be drinking like a party or a bar with his friends. If there were other people around, he would play it up even more by raising his voice so everyone could hear him calling me crazy. At those times we were usually in the middle of a heated discussion so he was trying to make it look like he was being victimized. He would do this so I’d get mad and not want to see him, freeing him up to go to the party, bar, whatever. Then the next day it would be like nothing happened…which would make me wonder if I was going crazy lol I knew I wasn’t, and what I wanted and expected from a boyfriend was not over the top or crazy, he just loved to play mind games. I’ve never dealt with any other addict or alcoholic so I can only draw on my experience with this person but I would say from what I’ve learned that it is a tactic that is often used to deflect and to justify their own choices and behavior. I finally realized I can’t talk with him about his problem if he doesn’t even recognize he has one, so I stopped trying and got out. That was over a year ago and he still hounds me to get back together, texts me, contacts my family. MESS. I hope you feel good about your decision, in my opinion it’s the right one.

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