How Should We Respond When An Alcoholic Gets Sober

Video about the pain of recovery and how people respond when an alcoholic gets sober.

It’s sad to know that a one minute conversation with a drunken mess of a person can destroy a thirty seven year relationship between a brother and sister.

It really happened. Instead of the relative who the alcoholic was mean to being forgiving when the person decided to get sober, they shut the person out of their life. I know the facts about this situation very well.

The recovering alcoholic has been one hundred percent clean and sober for over thirteen years and the relative still is not willing to try to work things out. The recovering problem drinker has had a complete change in lifestyle and you could say has been born again. They have also made repeated efforts to reconcile with their sibling, only to be despised by them.

Do first time offenders deserve a second chance?
When is it time to start trusting someone who is in recovery?
What could cause someone to just shut a brother or sister out of their life?
Is blood thicker than water?
Are family members more important than friends?
How long do we wait before forgiving an alcoholic?
How do we let go of someone and how long do we let go of them?
Should there be a trial period where a newly recovering alcoholic has to prove themselves?

Relationships are by far the most difficult things to manage in our lives. Dysfunctional relationships with alcoholic friends and family are really difficult to manage.

I think that everyone at some point has experienced being abandoned or rejected by an alcoholic. The hurts run deep in dysfunctional families.

I think that this is why twelve step programs, like Al-anon, encourage people to enter into a relationship with God because forgiving an addict again and again is impossible in our own strength.

Now in the case with the brother and sister, this particular family has had very bad experiences through the years that were directly related to the poor behaviors of several alcoholics. Perhaps the sibling had finally reached a breaking point where he/she  just took all of the many years of frustrations out on this one person.

It just doesn’t make sense that they would shut someone out like that for so long after the addict has proven themselves for over thirteen years. Well, like I said… dysfunctional families have difficult things to work through.

When is it a good time to let go of yesterdays hurts through forgiveness and love to the full in the present?

Coping with an alcoholic can be unbelievable trying. They steal things, lie all the time and constantly want to argue with others. After a few years of dealing with these types of behaviors, it seems as though people begin to get hardened and more unforgiving.

They hope for the best, but keep a safe distance from the possibility of experiencing harm.

This is why we all need help in dealing with alcoholics. When a loved one decides to get help for their addiction problems, they need to have a sense that the people closest to them are cheering them on. This is not always the case as in the opening story about an estranged brother and sister.

Here’s the good news though. The person who decided to get sober stayed that way regardless of how the relationship was going with their sibling.

How should we respond when an alcoholic gets sober?

First off, I feel it is important to realize that everyone deserves a chance to mess up and start over. Even though an alcoholic has to make a decision to reach out for help on their own, those people who have been coping with their BAD behaviors for a while, should consider being loving, kind and supportive of them.

Listen, a root of bitterness just filters through many people. The sooner the root is cut off-the fewer people it will affect.

We don’t necessarily have to be all lovey-dovey with the recovering addict, but we can be forgiving, kind, understanding and supportive from a distance. When they start drying out it doesn’t take long for them to see the wreckage of what they have done and start feeling guilt, shame and remorse. These are all things that they will have to work through in their recovery program.

I just think that even though they have to deal with their own wreckage that it’s important for the family and friends to support them in their decision to try and quit drinking. Fine, let there be a period where they have to prove themselves…but at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

I believe it is better to hope for the best and support an alcoholic who is trying to stay sober, rather than shutting them out of our life altogether. There’s always a risk of a recovering alcoholic relapsing, but we must approach this with the attitude of living one day at a time.

Where do you stand with situations like this? Please feel free to share your thoughts on this subject of how we should respond when a friend, family member, spouse, or co-worker decides to get sober.

2 comments to How Should We Respond When An Alcoholic Gets Sober

  • Kathy Heim

    I am a concerned Grandma of a 7yr. old girl & 5yr. old boy. My daughter is an alcoholic. She drinks at home & carry’s it with her wherever she may go. She doesn’t go out socially to drink. She drinks vodka. She is 33yrs. old, & has had this habit for more than 10yrs. She has been with the father of these children for 10yrs. They have become so dysfuncional in their home at times. They are good parents to the children, but, still things are far from normal. What can I do to prevent these children from going thru this. It does effect them in so many ways, even tho they don’t realize what is wrong with their Mom, yet. I came from a home with an alcoholic Father, & I know what it did to me. I don’t want them to go thru this like I did. I had so much pain as a child growing up, hurt, embarressed, humiliated. Please what are my rights as to not let them go thru this. I am 62 now. Please help with some answers. Hurt & frustrated!!

  • Tim

    We aren’t bad people for not wanting the alkie back in our lives. Part of recovery should be realizing and accepting that they msy have burned their bridges.

    No one is entitled to a relationship with me.

    Perhaps the person did “prove” themselves. Good. It’s wonderful that they got it together. Have a nice life. I still don’t want you in mine.

    You caused too many issues and I have not only myself but my own family to think about. I would be neglectful and abusive to my spouse and kids if I knowingly exposed them to a toxic person I distrust and even the slightest potential that they might regress to that behavior. Physical violence that resulted in some very serious injuries, theft, destruction of property and stalking were involved.

    I moved on and the toxic relative needs to do the same. Stop guilting us and accept responsibility. You are owed nothing.

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