The Alcoholic Is The One With The Problem-Why Must I Change?

We get emails all the time from people who don’t think they should be the ones who need to change because the alcoholic is the one who has the problem. In the video below you will hear how one of our subscribers feels about catering to the alcoholic all of the time. As always please feel free to comment below.

Video Transcription:

JC here, kind of a lazy Sunday morning for me. I wanted to share with you what one of our readers sent in, in response to one of the emails we sent out on communication. I really feel like you will be able to identify with the way that she feels with her situation of coping with an alcoholic.

Alright, here are the highlights on communicating with an alcoholic:

– Never talk about serious things while they are drunk.

– If what you have to say is not, kind, necessary or true, consider not saying it at all.

– Say what you mean…but don’t say it mean.
– Only say things once. Any more than that means you are trying to control them.

– Pay attention to your body language. A smile can go a long way.

– Try to not instantly react when they criticize you.

Now, here’s her response:
“Thank you for the tips. I’ve been married to an alcoholic for 22 years. I follow these “rules” every time he’s drunk. But I don’t feel I should be the one controlling the way I talk and my actions when I’m not the one with the problem. Its so unfair and selfish. I feel like I have to cater to the disease just to keep the peace.”

Now, this type of attitude is common among our readers. They send in emails like this periodically. You know what we teach on our website is that the responsibility of change lies within us because the alcoholic is not going to change. We’ve tried so many times to get them to stop drinking and to change the way they are acting. Everything that we’ve done hasn’t worked. We feel that the responsibility of change lies within us. We are the ones who must learn how to detach and let go of the alcoholic, so we can have more peace and serenity in our lives. It is a strange thing. It’s like doing things totally opposite when they are the ones who have the problem.

So, I’d love to hear your comments about how you feel about this particular situation that the responsibility of change lies with us because the alcoholic isn’t going to change. Feel free to share your frustrations, your experience, your hope and your wisdom in the comments section below this video.

Thanks so much for participating on our website. It always amazes me at how we are helping one another learn how to deal with this devastating illness called alcoholism. So, there you go. Have a great day!

Posts you may enjoy:
Can An Alcoholic Change?
Totally Frustrated With An Alcoholic
Tired Of Living With Alcoholism

74 comments to The Alcoholic Is The One With The Problem-Why Must I Change?

  • Brenda


    I am finding my peace with God. Some days are better than others. Some days all I want to do is curl up somewhere and cry. But I can’t.

    I have been reading my Bible a lot and found a verse where it says that if a unbeliever leaves a believer, to let that person go. So I’m not obligated in God’s eyes to take him back. It has given me some relief to know that.

    If he comes back I’m not really sure. One thing I do know for sure is that things have to change. The lies, disrespect, secrets, etc all have to change. I know I can’t change him, but God can and I’m praying for a miracle.

  • Hi Brenda,

    Is he Scottish from Scotland, that’s where I am from and that’s what most of the men do?

  • Hi Debbi,

    Why don’t you contact you’re sister and son, to be able to forgive makes you feel better and if they don’t want you in their lives you did try? I am lucky that I have my son and a loving family who are there for me not a lot of people have that, but I feel close to the people on this site as they all know first hand what it is like to be involved with a AH. All you have said about you’re Ex seems to be a pattern for AH. I was in a pub last night and there was a alcoholic woman there I watched her flirt with all the men to the point they felt uncomfortable I felt so sorry for her because people were trying to avoid her but God love her she had no idea and just danced about the pub oblivious to this. I do honestly believe they feel so bad about themselves they need other people to tell them they are good. Go foe it Debbi contact you’re family and take it from there. God bless and good luck

  • Debbi

    I understand your thinking completely & I pray you get your miracle. ((HUGS TO YOU))

  • Debbi

    Thank you for your suggestion but I did make several attempts for both my half sister and my son. My sister responded with a response that she wants no contact with me and my son never responded to the cards I sent and has now moved & I don’t know where. I heard he got married so I am real sad that I may actually be a grand mother and will never know it. I can never figure out why the important people in my life have done this to me although my sister did it to our mother as well and so I play the blame game trying desperately to figure out what I could have possibly done to make them walk away and now again with ex husband. But you are in my prayers and I’m sure things will start turning around for you real soon. May God Bless!

  • Ross

    I’m a little bothered today.Sometimes im ok with mu ah having filed(since i cant do much about it) and times im not.I didnt want a divorce.I’m feeling out of sorts.I doubt my decision to stand by what id said.I did want him to quit drinkin gto give us a chance, because i know how things are when he is drinking.But that doesnt guarantee he would choose to do it.He did for a month to get back home but went right back to it when he knew his changing the agreement up didnt work.I feel like trying to reason with him, but i know it would be chancey because he might make me feel like crap because “he told me so”.He’d told me i was messing up, that i ought to keep my good man and let him come home.

  • Brenda


    No, my AH is from the northern part of India. Which is where he is now.

  • Hi Debbi,

    Sorry to hear that it is a terrible blow for you, however you are not responsible for other people’s behaviour. Please stop blaming yourself I think being in a relationship with a AH they take away the real person you are, I used to be happy easy going and loved life. At the minute I can just get through the day, however i’m taking a day at a time not dwelling on the past that’s over and I can’t change that but I can make the most of what I have. My daughter sounds like you’re son again that is out of my hands, I like you was a good mum was there all the time never walked out and this is how she repays me. As parent’s we make the mistake of thinking our children will be like us however they are their own people. I like you Debbi sit and say God what did I do to deserve this life why do people treat me like this and I think because I am a nice person like you they take advantage, I am happy with who I am and I know I gave my all to make a marriage work and I was a good mum and I am taking no blame for my husband or daughter. My Ah has a illness my daughter was brought up properly to respect people but like I said she’s her own person. Read some self help books and try and meet new people Debbi I know its hard when you just want to shut yourself away. I had a good day today I think the abuse I got from my daughter gave me a wake up call I am not taking any more abuse from my AH or daughter-NO CONTACT from me again until they treat me with respect.

  • Hi Brenda,

    I thought he was maybe Scottish as there is a massive problem in my country with alcoholics. God Bless I hope things work out for you. X

  • karen

    To Debbie and other readers in the same situation… will regain your self-esteem in time. Take one day at a time and remember to be kind to yourself and do something for yourself each and every day. Whether it be a manicure,going for a walk or even cleaning out a junk draw, it is important to do this.

    It is amazing how much the A person can take from us and lower our standards to their level.
    Trying to climb back up is often a challenging task, but it can be done. Believe me, as I am in the process of doing this and some days are better than others. When I do something for myself I do feel better about myself.

    I know in my heart and soul that I am so much better off without the A person in my life and I have re-gained the respect from my friends and collegues. I have learned to keep myself busy with family and friends.

    You will be ok…just give yourself time.
    have a great day and remember to be kind to yourself.

  • Debbi


    I agree with you–you are a good mother & I believe I was too–we all make mistakes as parents but I truly believe any mistakes that you and I might have made were accidental and we truly always tried to do the best with our kids. I found NO CONTACT to be helpful right now with my ex because it just hurts too much to see him walk away with out a care. But someday I would still like to have contact with my son–I can’t divorce my child but who knows if that day will ever come.

    My half-sister walked out of our mother’s life and disappeared for 10 years and although she now has contact with my mom, my mother told me she does not trust her any more. My sister rarely calls my mom to check up on her and lives 10 minutes now from my mother. Yet I live hundreds of miles and never missed my Sunday calls to her & now my mother and I have become closer than I would have dreamed possible because of my divorce. When I was younger my mother was strict with me and at times I think she got out of line with me but after talking to her now I understand she was tormented by my sister walking out and at the same time going through menopause herself. My mother will be turning 90 in May and the only good thing I can say that ever came out of this relationship with an alcoholic is how close it brought me to my mother again and I am ever so grateful.

    So I hope your daughter and my son will realize what they are missing without the mothers in their life–I sure would have missed mine & my sister she will never have a close relationship with mom if she doesn’t hurry up!!

  • Debbi

    You are right about the self esteem. I would like to add that in my case & maybe others this “taking away of our self-esteem” causes my depression. So, you are right–getting up and moving is the first step. Exercise & movement produce those “endorphins” that make us feel better. Jeez look at the A’s they don’t stop–they know how to stop the pain, they get up, move (even if to a local pub), mix with others. Boy I’m still not getting it right. I just have to keep trying–each day is a new day-You are so right!

  • Laurie

    You probably dont realise that we the loved ones of addicts and alcohplics are probably sick too.. yup codependent. We think we can rescue, fix and cure the disease. Wouldnt you like to understand your loved one and yourself. Well we dont really know ourselves do we? We spend all our time overly focusing on our alcoholucs. This in itself is a codependent trait. Family support groups help us to grow. They are filled with knowledgable wise members who have been there and understand.
    I get help for me not gor anyone else. If i didnt id most likely still be acting like the crazy wife, chasing him all over town, blackmailing, trying to manipulate him, begging, nagging, calling and texting all the time. Causing myself to gave panic attacks by overthinking and worrying.. all to which change nothing.

  • Patti

    What is that old saying? “GOD doesn’t make any mistakes! WE are ALL CHILDREN OF GOD, even the AHs! My AH has a very powerful Dis-ease, I’m sure I could never control him or it ! I once imagined that I could find ways to “get around him” and his behaviors. 18 years has proved to me that the Dis-ease is more powerful then either of us. He is not interested in changing at this time. No one can “Make someone do something” if they don’t want to. At this time, my options are: 1) Stay and become more immersed and crippled by other’s addiction and negative mind; 2) Leave now/hastily and risk losing a lot of important things like my home and my livelyhood; 3) Proceed slowly from where I’m at, and assess the situation; Gather information to help myself feel better; Information to help me understand the Dis-ease that’s affecting my loved one; Information to help me prepare for all the possible scenarios that could occur. If, at any time I feel the need to leave, I ALWAYS have that option. It is POSSIBLE that the person I love and married could decide to heal from their disease and it’s possible they could not. I came from a dysfunctional family, and chose my marriage partner out of familiarity with their Dis-ease. If I leave my marriage without healing myself, it’s very likely I will choose the “same person” again and again, as I did in my dating years. By working on myself, I can achieve a Win/Win situation, regardless of what the addict chooses. I can take this time to grow and evolve, to make MY life better!

  • K

    Working on yourself!!! Great news and positive too. Life is so short and inspite
    of our trials and tribulations we can find
    peace. Everyone has issues with in themselves that need to be addressed. We
    think the alcoholic is the only one in the
    situation and that we need to cater to their
    every whim. To really win find the key phrases for addressing the AH. Kindly, respectfully, giving them plenty of space so they can argue with themselves or the guys at the bar. You, do not have to pay any attention to the mean and cruel things they say about you to his friends. Guess, what? Tthat old saying “birds of a feather, flock to gether” and I do not want this thought twisted into any type of demoralizing or rude statement. Why do we let their friends control us, don’t let them. They
    are only alcoholics. The Ah has friends just like them selves. I refuse in my own head to allow any acception of their attitude and misconceptions of the real you that they can not see because they are always looking at the bottom of a beer or
    whisky glass. They feel impowered by the
    whiskey glass and you are the one who is clean and sober. What the heck do they know
    they are only alcoholics and sick, sick ones
    at that.

  • C

    Great posts. K: Will take your advice and focus on myself. I went to Houston for a week to see grandchildren. My daughter-in-law wants me to move there now! She doesn’t know the situation (alcoholic bf). I told her I would give it a lot of thought. The fact is I feel weak and overwhelmed dealing with a mouthy alcoholic who acts so differently when he leaves the house. I don’t drink. His constant drinking has cured me of ever wanting even one drink now!!

  • Mari

    It helps me a lot to read others’ experiences and the lowering of self-esteem that AH family members bring on. I have recently had to separate from my sister and her husband because their AH outbursts are so severe. If they aren’t bringing somebody else down, they’re talking about other family members in a negative way. However, they don’t want to give up their AH, so they never really see what they are doing to others. My sister has done a lot for me while my husband has been sick; however, she seems to think that this gives her the right to abuse both he and me. This is why I know for certain that I have to make the changes. They are definitely not going to change, so if I want any peace in my life, it’s up to me. In fact, my husband and I are moving away. We are not running away though. There are too many AH family members. It surprises me that my sister is an AH because our mother and step father were both severely affected by the disease. As children, my sister, brother, and I were taken away by CPS after authorities found us living in squalor and without food while my mother took off with AH friends and would not return home for well over a week at a time. Our mother quit drinking after our youngest brother was murdered at the age of 24. He had not been raised right because my mom and his dad were drunk all of the time; thus, he developed psychological problems, an addiction to meth, and got himself murdered. My mom blamed herself for his death. It took something this horrible for her to quit drinking. This is why I am certain that the AH will continue drinking no matter how bad things are for those they supposedly love. If I want life to feel better, I must make the change in order for that to happen.

  • Deb

    It is a bit exhausting to ‘adapt’ our behavior to the poorly-behaving loud alcoholic. When you hold back from saying anything after they do something like ‘ha ha I did better then you did at work, you are not smart! and I am an alcoholic.’ If you observe them, you’ll notice that they will ‘seek’ to say the ‘exact things’ to hurt you. He messed up one time and said something very mean but it was on a topic that I didn’t really care about. And, when I did not react he seemed to get very confused.

    It is hard because you realize they are on purpose just trying to cause you pain. And, working to ‘be nice’ and ‘not say something mean’ really creates a sense of self betrayal. Being that you know they are trying actively to truly wound you and you are acting in an entirely opposite way. This is the true difficulty with this mention presented here of being nice. You are being asked to be KIND to someone actually intent on making you HURT. And, sometimes their barbed comments can wound you for days. And the few hours later when they come into sobriety they sit there ‘relaxed, pleased with themselves’ and sort of enjoying your pain.

    When my Alcholic sobered up and I said ‘are you aware you said this to me when you were drunk?’ He looked me straight in the eyes and said ‘Yes.’ In an almost proud way as if he truly intended it and meant it to hurt. You then ask ‘what did I do to you that you can see that would merit you saying such a hurtful thing?’ I have had my alcoholic at times say ‘ you don’t deserve it, you have helped me a great deal in my life in fact likely I owe you a debt for all you have done for me.’ Although they say this and do mean it just as surely they mean to hurt you.

    At this time I conclude the alcoholic has a form of anger at those of us who are not alcoholics. And, this is why they do this to us. They want us to hurt because our presence in their lives hurts them. I think I hurt him by my very presence around him. It is peculiar because many alcoholics need help from folks. And some level of their selves look for this help. And they receive it in a very odd manner. They receive our love and kindness ‘to a degree’ and I think do appreciate it and their split personality, on the other hand, despises us for doing so.

    It is a truly Christian act to befriend an alcoholic whether or not you keep your mouth saying kind things. I often don’t. I often just cannot bear the stuff said and either the next day when he is sober I let him have a share of what he gave me the night before or I will say mean stuff back when he is drunk. My alcoholic seems to be sadistic and masochistic. He likes to cause me pain and he likes it when I cause him pain back. It is painful to be kind to someone like this ‘at the time’ and even the ‘next day’ after they are so cruel.


  • AM

    I have read all of the wonderful comments and sharing. This website is great. My friend just stopped talking to me about five months ago after nearly 8 years of friendship. I helped the whole family because that’s who I am. Didn’t realize the severity of his problem. He came down in March past to “fix” my uncle’s home so we could sell it. He was here two months with dog…. they were treated like royalty. Once he left to go on vacation – we still had the wonderful dog – he came back and stopped talking to us. Was going to send a taxi over 100 miles to pick up the dog. We ended up bringing the dog back to a residence of filth and squalor. He was no where to be found . in retrospect, the lies and manipulation have come into view. Everybody else was wrong or was against him. We paid him a tremendous amount of money to fix this house all cash because he is not supposed to be working – receives 100% disability from the VA. and to date we have laid out over 11,000usd to fix his mistakes and its not over her. Why didn’t I recognize that he manipulated and used me/us? And I do realize now that he always had ulterior motives. Makes those around him feel bad about themselves. Thanks for listening.

  • Shelly

    But the alcoholic has changed us. We are not who we were. We’ve had to change to even deal with the addiction. So maybe it’s not so much of us needing to change as it is of finding ourselves who got lost along the way.

  • K

    Shelly, you stated the truth about what happens to the non-alcoholic. We have changed! Now you
    will change even more for the better! We do feel lost and it is hard to figure where you fit
    into your situation. Everyone who is dealing with alcoholism has a little bit different story
    but how we handle it will be different because of it. You will see your life differently.
    So he or she is an alcoholic. We do not have to be. We make that choice and find ways to
    work our lives into positive growth. If we remain the same we stop growing. Finding your
    new life with or with out the alcoholic will require many changes and just about the time
    you have it figured out life goes into another direction. You have figured out we got
    lost along the way. Good luck, you have found the key to success and a happier life.

  • Patti

    TO SHELLY: I <3LOVE<3 what you said: "maybe it’s not so much of us needing to change as it is of finding ourselves who got lost along the way. I think you're on to the Truth and Heart of the matter! Right on, Right on, Right on!!!!

  • SC

    Patty and Shelly,
    This must be God at work for me TODAY. I lost a lot of self-esteem from being with my xah. I’ve been really struggling lately with trying to feel good about myself. I have my broken side but I used to feel good about me. Now it’s up to me to be okay

    . It still bothers me he acted like he hated me … I know I shouldn’t let it but it does . I just need to find who I was before I ever met him. Not sure how to do that?? I learned a lot from this experience but sometimes I don’t think it was worth it . Thanks for listening any feedback would be appreciated .

  • K

    My experience was learning not to accept everything the alcoholic said as gospel. Try to remember where the
    derogative comments came from. He is out of control and is trying to control you. The sad part is he wins!!!
    We take those statements to heart and feel sad, down
    and miserable. It is hard to love someone that makes
    you feel that way. It is harder when that someone is an
    alcoholic. Understanding just this much helped me a lot
    and it is a constant day to day remembrance and rejecting
    those statements to get back on your feet. We are strong.
    We can make good lives remember. You were strong long
    before the alcoholic came along. This is just a baby
    step in changing and growing.

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