Five Ways To Protect Your Serenity When Interacting With Alcoholics

Tranquil SettingIf you are not involved in support group meetings designed to help friends and family members of alcoholics, the concept of serenity may be foreign to you. Prior to attending Al-anon on a regular basis my life had little peace and serenity. Most of my time was spent obsessing over everything the addict in my life was doing or not doing.

The tips I will be revealing will lead you into having more peace if you feel as though your life is in constant turmoil due to interacting with an alcoholic.

Here are only a few of many suggestions that will work for you:

Refuse to argue-When we are constantly fighting with the addict in our life there is little room for calm. We must learn how to stop arguing with an alcoholic. The battle in this area for me was learning how to zip my lip. One of the things that helps me do this is a slogan I learned in a twelve step meeting that says: “mind your own business.”

Don’t answer the phone-One of the dominant characteristics of the addict I used to be involved with was she would call me repeatedly after I had told her that I didn’t care to discuss whatever we were talking about anymore. If I answered the phone there would just be a barrage of anger directed toward me. By not answering, I can avoid being even more upset than what I may already be.

calm waterDon’t listen to nasty messages-You know the routine, especially if they are under the influence, they leave horrible messages on the phone when they don’t get their way… I’m giving you permission to delete those messages without listening to them. This is all a part of having tough love with an alcoholic and protecting yourself from the negative influences that accompany interacting with an alcoholic.

Do not integrate them (this is a huge one): The more we learn about letting go of an alcoholic, the more potential we will have to live more serene lives. What the alcoholic does with their time is their business. When we ask them a bunch of questions, the chances are great that they are going to just lie to us anyway. Save your breath, nothing you have said in the past has made a difference in their drinking habits and poking around in their lives isn’t going to make them quit drinking. So, why get all worked up about how many they have had to drink or the certainty you have that they are not telling you the truth about something. Learn to let things go.

Stop snooping around-Have you been going through their mail, checking their email, scrolling through their phone history, listening in on their phone conversations, driving by their place of work or even going through their wallet or purse, if so, stop it! This type of behavior only leads into crazy making in your head.

For more helpful ideas like these check out our 37 lessons on coping with alcoholics.

The more ways that we can learn how to detach from an alcoholic, the greater the serenity will be in our lives. The key to living a healthier and happier life is found in letting go of the things we cannot change. Unfortunately, we have no power over what the alcoholic in our lives chooses to do.

Today you can choose to take care of yourself by valuing your serenity. Strive to find it and once you find peace guard it by focusing on yourself and not on the alcoholic. This is easier said than done. You can have a tremendous amount of peace in your life while living with an alcoholic, but you are going to have to learn how to get it and how to keep it. The quest for peace in the midst of alcoholism is a journey that takes time, but is well worth embarking on.

161 comments to Five Ways To Protect Your Serenity When Interacting With Alcoholics

  • Bruce

    Debbi: Thanks for the advice. You sure got up early today. Hope all is well on your end. I told my girlfriend I would be willing to go with her to her counselor/therapist. Not sure what she goes to. I thought a neutral party would be good for talking. At least this site taught me not to worry about what she is up to. So I am sleeping better by not worrying anymore. Does anyone on this site know of groups for help beside Al-Anon? Or sites to meet non drinkers? Thanks for any and all advice! Bruce

  • Debbi


    You can try a group that helped me: Yahoo groups (Welcome to Oz). It’s kind of geared to those with loved ones diagnosed with mental disorders. I got alot of insight on behavior from those participants.

    Due to the severe infidelity & sex addiction I was also dealing with I loved a site ( It is run the same as this one but many forums to post in. But only help if you were dealing with that like I was.

    Glad you’re sleeping better & wish I could say the same. . .don’t sleep well at all.

  • karen

    Good morning to everyone and JC,
    I finally managed to get caught up on all the emails and read your thoughts and stories.
    There are so many common denominators with a relationship with an A.
    We all have our own paths to follow and I respect your reasons for staying in the relationship and admire the ones who choose to leave and dissolve the ties with the A person.

    I tried the Al Anon meetings and they did not work for me as I did not want to learn how to live with an A. That was just too much work for me, and it was much more easier for me to move on. A loss is a loss and must be grieved in order for us to move on.
    So I have shed my tears which really pissed me off at times as I thought why waste the time and energy to cry tears over him. But, it is a necessary process.
    It has been 3 months since we have spoken to each other and I am perfectly OK with that. I have serenity, peacefulness, calmness and have learned how to be with myself again and I like it A LOT.

    We have some mutual friends and when they speak of him or have a message from him to me, I cut the conversation off immediately.
    Now I just do not associate with them much anymore. My life is my business and not the A.

    When the thoughts of what I thought were good times and moments, I say to myself “it was not real Karen, as the words and gestures were alcohol and drug induced” and the thoughts go away.
    Besides that he claims he never remembered saying those words or any of his actions.
    That was a huge insult.

    There were many comments that I read on this site which were “stand-outs” for me…..
    One of them was the comment of ” for the A person to love someone is like trying to buy a loaf of bread in a hardware store” and another was “why would you give the A person a second chance, you may as well give them another bullet for their gun as they apparently missed you the first time”

    Such a sad, sad disease. We will never be # one in their lives. My ABF would tell me that I was almost at the bottom of his list, beer and drugs first, then his mom ( who is an A also ) and other family members then the few friends did he did have ( as long as they were drinkers also).

    Of course, everything was my fault and probably always will be, but I do not care anymore. I am just so happy to be rid of him. The next person in line is in for the WOW factor, which I already for sorry.

    I never knew which personality was in play and that was so frustrating and made my head spin. The paranoid ideas were always centered around me and that was so bizarre that I can actually sit back and laugh now.

    My final chapter with the ABF was writing him a letter… a long one…and I held nothing back. I do not know whether he read it or not and don’t really care. But I had the best time writing it and it was so therapeutic for me. I finally got the chance to speak my mind as the A person does not give us the opportunity to speak and if they do, they do not care anyhow.

    The A person is only concerned with themselves and what drama is in their lives.

    To JC and all the site members I want to say thank you for your words of encouragement and support. This is not goodbye or anything of the sort. The healing process is long and I will continue to be an active participant on this site, which has saved me from a life of doom and gloom.

    Love and prayers to each of yous.

  • Nancy

    I use to blame the alcoholism for all the alcoholics nutty behavior. I have realized that he acts like his father. Says the same things and behaves the same. His father is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic as is his mother.
    The alcoholic thinks the way he was raised was ok. Though he sees what his father does and says and thinks it is wrong. Doesn’t see it in himself. Even his drunken friends point it out to him.
    I guess I should really have more sympathy for him, his life has been run by alcoholism. It really is quite sad and heartbreaking. And now his daughter is reaping the affects of the alcoholism. Sad situation.

  • Debbi


    It’s wonderful you have moved on & doing well. Life can only get better for you.

    ((HUGS TO YOU)) & my prayers are with you.

  • Lisa

    Nancy: That sounds all too familiar about parents. When my A and I were 1st together he couldn’t stand his mom – who was an alcoholic as was his father. Now that he is in the same situation she is a saint to him. He acts just like her and does all the stuff he despised so long ago. How ironic is that?

  • Nancy

    Lisa: I find it ironic that; what was once unacceptable behaviour becomes acceptable. With the alcoholic and with me. It is like we see and hear some of the same things everyday and we get used to it, when really it is unacceptable. The sicker the alcoholic gets the more clouded his judgement gets.

  • Pam

    Hello everyone again. As I read all of these posts it makes me feel good to know I am not alone and sad that we have to live like this.

    My boyfriend left two weeks ago to a motel and he has run out of money had no where to go. I called boarding houses efficacy apts NOTHING everything was full. The more I thought about it I started thinking whats gonna happen when my rent is due which is in July. I am on disability and when I got my back pay I paid rent for a year. But once that year is up there is NO way I can make it here on my own.

    I talked to him and told him the rules to coming back he agreed to everything. I could have looked for another place when my rent comes due again but my 16 yo son doesn’t want to move his friends are here his school is awesome he is an honor roll student. How I don’t know/ I have gotten my house cleaned up things hauled off to the dump very proud of myself but what did I do? Went and got him. I told him he needs to fill out the paper work to get his VA benefits from serving in the military the drinking had to slow down and he needed to clean up after himself, HE PROMISED the first two nights were great last night he came to bed at 3am his clothes were in the living room floor beer cans all by the computer stand snot rags on the coffee table plate and fork on the coffee table so there I was at three in the morning cleaning up after him AGAIN. I want to kick myself. when we talked before he came back we both agreed we know what buttons to push to piss each other off and we would both work on that which has worked so far. I did learn a lot these past two weeks and know what to say and what not to say because I have been reading everything I can about living with an alcoholic. But all in all we are both on the lease so legally he had every right to come back, But I will do this as a trial basis and see how it goes and see if and when he is truly willing to make some changes he says he wants to change if it stays the way it was before he walked out I will go to my land lord and give him 30 days to get out my son will have to suck it up and we will have to move I will make sure where I go he is in the same school district. I have surgery this coming Monday he is planning on taking me my parents don’t know I have let him come back they will be livid and I am sure I will be yelled at from my father who was a true mean drunk while I was growing up he now has a social drink my kids and grand kids will never know the father I had thank god but what gives him the right to judge me My alcoholic is not mean he is sappy and starts throwing a pity party for himself and turns to FB for his friends to feel sorry for him and he is just lazy. As far as my mom I don’t see where she can say anything she hung in there with my dad when he was mean and physical and was caught cheating by her but they are still together she stuck by him and its been 47 years they have been married but I know I am going to get an earful when they find out he is back. why is it so hard to fill out the paper work to get his VA benefits and at least get a physical and get help like he says he wants to he served our country during a war he deserves these rights but he needs to want it and fill out the paper work, he bitches he has no insurance well buddy here is your chance take that chance and at least get the help you say you want.

    I feel like a FOOL I feel like he knew just what to say to come home. he was at rock bottom he was one day of being homeless maybe I should have just let that happen, I will keep my spirits up get through yet another surgery and once recovered I will continue to do things for me and I will not give him the attention he wants. I will give it one month and then I will go to my land lord and start paper work to have him evicted. I don’t know what else to do.

    Sandy the only thing different between our situations if you feel that he will hurt you or does hurt you physically if the house is a rental take your things put them in storage and take you and your mom to a safe house they will help you get it together and find a place to live that you can afford. If mine was psychical I would probably be in jail right now the mental abuse is bad enough but if you lay a hand on me I will go off like a completely psycho lunatic woman that you never knew existed in me. I thank all of you for sharing your story’s it helps more than you realize, I need to check in here everyday.
    God Bless you all
    Pam in VA

  • Fatima


    Thanks for the advice it does really help but I need more tips for when kids are involved I have 3 kids the youngest is a 2 month old baby. so please if you have more advice for me that really will help me I feel like am alone in this hard battle, with three wonderful kids.

    God bless you


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