Can An Alcoholic Meet Your Six Basic Human Needs

I recently stumbled across teaching materials from Anthony Robbins on the six basic human needs. I immediately started looking at how these fundamental needs work within the dysfunctional structure of having a relationship with an alcoholic. I very quickly realized why so many of us feel lonely, afraid, insignificant, disconnected and uncertain about the future.

The Six Foundational Needs Found In Every Human All Over The World Are:

  1. Certainty
  2. Variety
  3. Significance
  4. Connection
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution

Ideally it would be nice to have all of these human needs fulfilled in a good way. As you read on you will see how dysfunctional things can become when we are coping with alcoholism. Tony did say that if someone in our life is fulfilling three of the six needs that we potentially become addicted to that person. Please understand that these needs can be fulfilled in a good or bad way, positive or negative.

Certainty and Variety
Do we experience certainty or uncertainty/variety when we are involved with a practicing addict on a daily basis?

In my experience, when an addict is caught up in their addiction, there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty present in relationships. I do think that because of the uneasiness of the situation that we find some fulfillment on a negative level with the human need for variety. Let’s face it, being with an alcoholic is very suspenseful and emits a level of uneasiness that really affects our emotions. So in some very sick way the need for certainty is absent and yet at the same time we experience variety that causes adrenaline or other chemicals to be released. Have you ever heard someone allude to being addicted to chaos? An excellent movie is filled with variety and uncertainty. For more on this subject, check out: Uncertainty Of An Alcoholic.

6 Human NeedsSignificance
Does a practicing alcoholic or addict fulfill our need to feel significant in a relationship? Here again, I believe that there are positives and negatives connected to this human need. Because practicing addicts are compelled by their addictions, we almost always find ourselves being treated as though we are not significant. We find that we are always second place to their drinking or drug addiction. On the other hand, we can find significance in taking on the role of the caretaker. Our focus on fixing the alcoholic or addict fulfills our need to feel important or in making a contribution.

We most definitely fulfill our need to be connected when we are with an alcoholic. We just do it in emotionally damaging ways. Because the problem drinker esteems their relationship with the bottle higher than the one with us, we feel disconnected. The connection we experience is one that fuels the  insanity associated with being with an alcoholic… We find ourselves having a subconscious and conscious obsession over the alcoholic. Here again, we can be connected to the challenge of trying to get them to quit drinking. We can be connected to hope or faith that things will change. We can experience negative attention through arguing that makes us feel connected.

Anthony Robbins says that the human needs for growth and contribution have a spiritual base to them. I can see how letting go of an alcoholic and attaching to God causes me to grow spiritually. When I finally got lonely and frustrated enough to attend an Al-anon meeting that’s when I began to grow. Through my negative experiences with alcoholism, I’ve been able to learn new methods for dealing with life. I also have found a wonderful way of contributing to the healing of others who are suffering because of having a relationship with an alcoholic or drug addict. Out of the pain of dealing with an alcoholic, somehow I created positive ways to fulfill my needs. Through helping others I am significant, connected and making a positive contribution.

It might be a good idea to make a list of positive ways that you can start changing your daily routine in order to fulfill the six basic human needs in a positive way. I think the basis of making positive changes starts by learning:

How To Detach From An Alcoholic
How To Stop Being An Enabler With An Alcoholic
How To Let Go Of The Problem Drinker
How To Set Boundaries With A Problem Drinker

If you will take a moment to think about how these six basic needs are being fulfilled or not in your life, perhaps you will have compassion on yourself in relation to the emotional state you find yourself in at times, especially if you find yourself being angry because the needs aren’t being met the way you desire for them to be.

I also know that if you will take a moment to stand in someone else’s shoes and look at how the six needs apply to their life, you may find a higher level of compassion for the alcoholic or drug addict in your life.
Contributing Author: Timothy Odum On

4 comments to Can An Alcoholic Meet Your Six Basic Human Needs

  • Nancy

    I think this is confusing and don’t understand it.

  • Bill

    Nancy, maybe I can help…

    Certainty-Would you rather feel certain the alcoholic loves you or do you like being uncertain?
    Variety-Is the variety you experience in your relationship with the addict enjoyable or not?
    Significance-Do you feel as though you are important to the problem drinker?
    Connection-Does the addict spend quality time with you or are you starved for their attention?
    Growth-Relationships don’t grow when two people aren’t working together.
    Contribution-Do you desire to give love?

    Are you angry because the alcoholic treats you as being insignificant?
    Do you get upset when the refuse to “connect” with you and they leave you feeling lonely?
    Do you feel “certain”, safe and secure because of how the problem drinker interacts with you?

    When these needs are met in positive ways then we feel fulfilled and satisfied, happy, joyous and free…

    When these basic needs aren’t met, then perhaps you may feel depressed, angry, sad, irritable, restless and discontent…

    Hope this helps!

  • Jo

    Hi, I come to your site for clarity when I can’t find it through literature of alanon. I am affected by my partners drinking, for years he has drunk to hide and since meeting him 10 months ago I’ve watched him drink less, get off anti depressants, begin to take care of himself and really make an effort to come out of his hole. I didn’t realize the extent of his depression and anxiety and for 4 months now we have had no sexual relationship, even kissing has stopped. I’ve tried to communicate but it seems the more I try the less I get, he won’t talk and he will avoid intimacy and prefer a drink. Reading your article made me see I live in hope for change, because I have alanon and work the steps I live by the serenity prayer, but I’m to a point where the pain is too much, to open and share my world, my desires and my love with someone who won’t touch me, hold me or even kiss me, alcoholism is such a debilitating disease. I don’t nag or pressure, I just try to have compassion, but it’s hard as a woman, I get so much attention from other men and my partner is so jealous, what do I do? Do I keep to try and support his recovery or do I put in a boundary that says if you can’t meet my needs we are better off friends. I just think life is difficult at times and we all need someone who will truly love us, to be in a relationship we need to think as a team, not an individual, but dealing with alcoholism, I’m not sure it’s possible. I’d appreciate another view please.

  • Nancy

    Bill: Thanks, your explanation helped alot. I’ve got LOVE…I know he loves me the best he can. I don’t think in any intimate relationship I have had that these needs were met. Now I wonder why.

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