Does An Alcoholic Care About Who They Hurt

Question Sent In By: Amy
I just have a question and want to know what others think. Do you think alcoholics care who they hurt?. When they break plans, leave you alone, choose alcohol over everyone and everything in their lives etc. It sure doesn’t seem it. I can’t help but wonder if they even feel a pang of guilt over the things they do! Just a question that I am wondering what others think and feel about this subject?

JC: Thanks for sending in your question Amy. The substance abusers I have been in close relationships with were very caring people when they weren’t drinking or using drugs. It seems to me that an alcoholic will drink more in an attempt to cover over the guilt, shame and pain that is associated with them letting those that are closest to them down because of their drinking habits.  When a problem drinker  gets sober, they have to feel everything because they no longer have the alcohol to numb their feelings. This is why it is so important for them to stay connected in a program like AA;  they have to  learn how to deal with the uncomfortable feelings without stuffing them down with the use of drugs or alcohol. When I met my now ex- alcoholic spouse, initially,  she was a very caring person at heart. As she progressed in her addictions, she certainly treated those she was closest to as if she didn’t care about them at all sometimes.

Please feel free to leave a comment below.

You might also enjoy reading:
Why Are Alcoholics Thieves
Why Should We Be Nice When Alcoholics Are Mean
Alcoholic Relationship Solutions

170 comments to Does An Alcoholic Care About Who They Hurt

  • Rick

    Hi Amy,
    I agree with JC. My Alcoholic wife is a loving caring person. She drinks to feel better. She suffered a terrible childhood. Most everything she does is driven by wanting to feel better. I think that her pain keeps her focused on herself and finding relief. It comes off as major selfishness. She’s used alcohol since she was in her teens, for 30 years now. When she got to AA 4 years ago and quit drinking, she became more miserable than ever and she took it out on me. I think they care, but after living their lives focused on their pain and themselves for relief, they don’t know any other way to see the the world. Until they get help with the real reasons they self medicate, then they will be focused on themselves.
    It’s a viscous cycle, drink to not feel their hurt, hurt themselves or others when they’re drunk, fill guilt and pain about what they’re doing, drink to not feel that pain and round and round. My wife seems to be clueless about my pain and our children’s pain that comes from being attached to her.
    It all happens so slowly to all of us that we are living in pain too. Makes kids want to drink! And here we go around again for another generation.

  • Connie

    My alcoholic boyfriend can be a very caring, loving, kind and generous man. But when he is drinking (which seems to be whenever he’s NOT working, sick or sleeping), he can truly become a monster who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. It brings to mind the old song “You always hurt the one you love”. He accuses me of things that HE is guilty of, lying being the biggest accusation. He seems to project his weaknesses onto me, making me out to be the bad guy. But when he sobers up, he remembers nothing of the conversations. Maybe he doesn’t remember any of the hurts he has caused me, but I know he loves me. I have distanced myself from him and I have seen a few positive changes because of that. But in the case of hurting me or others, I truly believe the alcohol takes over and he doesn’t realize what he’s doing or saying. He does care, but he cares about the alcohol more.

  • Rick

    I certainly agree with JC. My wife is an alcoholic who is now experiencing the pain she has inflected on our family. Initially she was a caring and loving person and drank much less than she did later. As I believe as a Guidance Counselor, her drinking increased due to the comfort she felt with me as her first true loving and honest relationship, and the trouble she experienced earlier in her life. Now, after she acted out ALL of the traits of an alcoholic (i.e. raging, controlling, lying, cheating, stealing, etc), being arrested twice for Domestic Violence, trying to divorce me for her freedom twice, attempting AA and rehab but backing out, not being able to maintain and now obtain employment and after being cut off from most all sources to purchase alcohol; she is experiencing the pain from what she has caused during our marriage. After attempting in a variety of ways to get me out of the house, have me pay the bills, terribly influencing our 3 children; she failed at everything she attempted. These failures are due to Jesus Christ taking control and taking sides between right and wrong to protect our children and myself. Humbly I say trust me, His interventions and guidance have been vast. Now I wait to see if she will get any help. That’s her choice. I am safe and so are our children at this time. I’ve attending Alanon before and remember to live one day at a time. So unless she gets some help to deal with the pain she has inflicted upon herself and the pain that was inflicted on her before we met; I stand hoping for the best yet prepared for the worst.

  • Carli

    Wow, this is the first time that I am doing anything like this. My alcoholic husband is extremely self-centered and extremely selfish. I feel like the alcohol has made him totally unaware of anything that he does or doesn’t do. He definitely blames me for the problems that go on in our marriage and has never spoke up about anything that he has done wrong. In the past month, he has missed our daughter’s dance recital, he has not been around to help me (I sprained my shoulder badly and could barely lift it), and stayed out all night on several occasions. When these things were brought to his attention he did not see any fault in anything, his blame was placed on me. I am at a crossroads in my life, do I stay and try to work it out or do I let him go.

  • Pat

    I try to remember that through the years of medicating their pain they have not progressed past the stage that they started medicating. Dealing with pain makes you grow to me. If you learn from your lessons of pain you become a more mature person in learning about life and people. If every time you experience pain you dumb it down then you don’t have to deal with it then but you will be presented the same lesson over again until you find the answer. Believe me I know as I have run from a lot of lessons only to be presented with them again. It amazes me that when my husband is yelling at me about someone I just stand there and think about what he is saying certainly pertains to him also but he cannot see it. Yesterday he started yelling at me when I told him I did not feel like dropping everything at 2PM to make him a big breakfast after he stayed up all night watching TV then slept till 2. He said how mean I was. I was bewildered because just that evening he said he wanted a certain thing for dinner which I did not have. I drove to town and got it for him and trudged home and made him a wonderful dinner. After he finished yelling at me about how horrible I was for not taking care of him he went back to the bedroom. I waited a little while then went back and pointed this out to him and also the many times I have stopped what I was doing and did something he asked me to. After many examples that I stated calmly he said to stop and that he was wrong. Imagine that. I find in most cases if I stay calm and search for a way to explain it without emotion that it is way more effective. It is sad that it has taken me so long to figure this out. Even if it does not help the conversation at least I have saved myself from looking like a wild out of control woman. I used to get so rattled that I even could not express myself. When he is sober he is one of the most kind hearted loving person I have ever met.

  • Rick

    I believe that in my case, my wife is so self focused that she is not aware of others feelings. The alcohol takes on a life of its own and it rules with and iron fist. My wife moved out 6 months ago because she was unhappy. She left me and our two precious children, took her income which was 40% of the total, (although not much of it made it to the family anyway) and moved into an apartment with a year lease. She quit drinking 4 years ago and is on step 10 for the third time. I asked her the other day what was her most favorite thing to do, trying to talk about something positive to cheer her up. She immediately answered “drink” ! No mention of time with children or me or anything else. She went on a long weekend trip with her highschool/ college boyfriend right after she moved out. (We are not divorced) her therapist told her she was doing nothing wrong, anyway. Our children were upset as was I. When I asked her if she thought about how that effected me and the children, she looked at me, puzzled, and replied, ” I guess not”. It will make us all crazy to try to apply logic to the alcoholics way of thinking.

  • Ro

    I have to learn to use a drill to get my air conditioner in place. I have to learn how to put in window locks. Growing up I learned how to take initiative in emergency situations. I just have to remember not to ask anyone to do anything for or with me that has been drinking, is hungover, is about to go drinking or drugging or is going thru withdrawal. I got so used to being around drinkers that I couldn’t tell if they were drunk or not. It takes me a couple of minutes and THEN I realize …oh this person isn’t hearing me, will not remember this conversation or cannot help me or communicate w/me at this time. If I were to confront him or her it will just make things worse. I will have to do it by myself–alone is not that scary. I beat myself up sometimes when drunk=normal to me. Why did it take me so long to realize that this is not normal behavior?

  • Dean

    When dealing with a alcoholic or any addict you are dealing with the most selfish people in the world. I have been married to a alcoholic for 30 years and had many friends over the years that were either alcoholics or addicts. I have noticed one very common theme. Most of them have learned to be this way during their childhood. It is also a habit that is hard for them to break even when they are not drinking. The people I know that have had the most success are the people who get help and work on things that happened to them when they were children. That can be a huge task because they would rather not remember those things and sometimes can’t remember them. It seems like a lot of times alcohol is just a symptom and a way to hide from problems that are much deeper. The problem is that there is no magic formula to get them to get help or quit. They won’t do it till they are ready, and they will always try to find the easiest way to control it instead of doing the real work. It seems like complete desperation is the only thing that will get them to face it head on. You have to learn to be ok even if you come in second to the alcohol. Tough, I know. But if you love the person it is the only choice you have. If that doesn’t work for you, you have to get out. I give the alcoholics and addicts in my life every chance I can. Only after it seems like there is no hope of them getting better will I give up on our relationship. But I let them know I will always be there for them if they need help in the future to beat it. It took years of much pain and heartache to learn to let go when necessary. Thirty years of a sometimes great, more often terrible marriage. Even after 30 years she is not completely over her childhood.

  • Dean

    It has gotten much better over the years and is not a huge problem anymore. When looking back I guess I would do it again if I had to even as tough as it was. Good luck Amy, I understand your pain, I have felt it many times. Dean

  • Ross

    It looks like they don’t.I remind myself that my stbx is sick and look at his actions…they are very selfish when active in their disease.I have to remind myself, but still find it hard to believe they care.

  • Amy

    Mine is selfish even when sober! He has been attempting a.a. meetings for a week..and he is just as miserable, lazy and selfish as when drinking..he is so full of anger and hate..and you simply cannot even talk to him..try to and he just sits there in silence.I have seen this go on before..I actually cant help but wonder if he is bi polar or something..he seems so off the wall when he doesnt drink..irritable,angry,or wound right up talking loud and fast almost acting manic..I have finally got to the point all this is getting to me so much I am vomiting..the stress is going to kill me..he is so hateful and acts so strange when sober its miserable being around him sober or drunk..he has his good days but they seem few and far between..he can be caring..and he can be a good person…but 2 days out of a month..dont seem to add up…an example today…he actually went in and urinated all over the toilet seat and didnt even clean it up.there was so much on the toilet seat there would be no way you would of missed feels like I am dealing with a spoiled child ..its as if he does this stuff just to try and see how far he can push if he wants to make me mad..This is my one day off and I have felt sick all day…I found one al anon meeting an hour from here and I am going to be going…I need to do something..this is all becoming way to much to deal with either way…

  • Debbi

    You all have such insight and the same idea comes out in all your posts–selfishness. Many of you, like me are now separated from our A’s and still we are baffled by their behavior–maybe they are just as baffled by it and cannot understand it themselves. A few of you are still with your A’s and getting more of the direct attacks–I feel for you. I wish I could be more like all of you and learned earlier and not taken it to heart so much. I knew my A for 20 years and married just shy of 16 years and not until the last 5 years of the marriage did I suspect alcohol as a cause.

    Mine did not show drunkenness, rage or yell, instead he “pushed those buttons” that made me the one raging at him when I would catch him in horrible lies. So now I carry this guilt about my behavior not his.

    In all those years I never got an apology or an admission that he cared the least bit of how he hurt me–but immediately after my rages I would apologize to him (go figure-he was the one causing it). I did hear him say he felt sorry for what he did to his daughter (who is now grown). When I would question him he would just brush it off with some little comment “well just not being there for her when she was younger because of always working”.

    I wonder if there is more to it than that & he just can’t face it because the pain of it. So, if I had to guess–I would say that they do care at some point of those they hurt–when they are sober and can remember some instances.

    I do believe they remember more of what they do than we think they remember. The reason I say this is because they lie to cover up their bad behavior and drink even more because they know the pain they caused to others & themselves and will not face up and deal with it and instead turn to alcohol to try to forget.

    If the alcohol made them completely forget everything they would not need to keep drinking to dull old wounds of what they have caused. One of JC’s videos explains that he knew most times the pain that he caused others, but because of their selfishness it seems they don’t care about the hurt they cause and they do seem to always direct it to one who is closest to them and saving their “nice” person act for friends, distant family members, co-workers, etc.

  • karen

    Dear readers and JC,

    I agree with all of the responses. My ex-AB was do demaning when he was drinking and I found myself in a head spin most of the time.
    And, yes, when he was sober he could be a miserable so and so. Totally different person.
    He would claim that he did not remember what he said and offered no apologies. That was more of an insult.
    His drinkng came first, then his family (which is also dysfunctional), mostly his mommy, then his friedns came next and I was somewhere on the bottom of the list and he would tell me this.
    So, why would I want to settle for that. I truly cared for him and was in a constant state of anxiety worrying about him. but, he did not care.
    I feel like I was used and then abused or maybe both going on at the same time.

    He would blame me for the verbal abuse saying that I must have done something or another for him to make those comments or I must have been lying about somethnig and I found that scenerio all too frustrating.
    The “blame game” is very apparent in all aspects of his life.

    The different personalities that I witnessed where “head spinners”. Ironically, Mondays seemed to be his manic day and he could be very entertaining and at the same time annoying. does that make any sense ??

    I witnessed about 5 different personalities….hello Cybil !!

    I am glad that we are done with each other, there was no future and never would have been. All I know is that I would have had a life of misery and no friends or family.

    Take care


  • Laureen

    I have been reading the posts in this forum for many months and the more I read the more depressed and hopeless i feel about my relationship with my alcoholic partner. While Al-anon seems to give hope and techniques for living with an addict/abuser and JC ‘s info is very helpful and practical, it would seem as if most readers hold out little hope for the recovery of their loved ones who are trapped in the insidious and destructive disease that is alcoholism. Quite frankly. most times after reading of the heartbreaking experiences and sadly pessimistic views of many commentators I feel like throwing in the sponge and getting out. I dearly love my AH but the pain of his transformation from Jekyll to Hyde really seems unbearable at times. And as mentioned earlier, the vast majority of comments do not appear to give hope.I do pray that there are some positive outcomes, relationships that survived the war of alcoholism and I would love to read a few positive posts on this forum. I don’t want to delude myself but isn’t there a Higher Power out there somewhere who is a Hearer of prayer?

  • Sheila

    from what I gather…the miracle stories are the exception, not the rule.
    That Higher Power who hears prayers also allows the A free will…just as He allows it to you.
    It sucks sometimes that He allows the drinker to keep making selfish choices.
    Yet, unacceptable behavior is still unacceptable behavior.
    We don’t treat others like they treat us…so why should we tolerate such wrong behaviors?
    For me, I came to realize that doing so would be a wrong on my part…and THAT realization forced me to do the right thing, even if it meant divorce..which I did not want for my child!
    A relationship takes two normal people. Alcoholics just don’t have it to give.
    Trying to get love from an alcoholic is like shopping for food at the hardware store.
    Alcoholics don’t have relationships, they have hostages.

    I view alcoholism like an invisible contagious disease. Just being in the presence or communication with an alcoholic causes us to be infected. Gotta get away or minimize interaction in order to rid oneself of its vapors. That’s my view.

  • Julie

    Sheila, I have to say you said it girl….! And the Lord will be there and will try to wake them up but He has given them a free will such as he has given us one. And we all need to sort out what is right and what HE is calling us to do and then make the choice to do it. And we will be free in our own way! But the key is to listen to God calling. My ex once told me he kept praying for God to fix things after i filed for divorce. Yet i pointed out to him is he listening to God’s answer? and my ex had no answer for me.

  • JC

    If you haven’t seen the video I made where I share a part of my story
    of what happened when I hit bottom and quit drinking you can
    check it out here:

  • Ruth

    First time posting. Have read many stories and they are helpful in times of despair. I too have a problem drinker. He walked out 4 days ago, very angry at everything and all of us, but not his FB friends and drinking friends. You must beware of FB and sites like that. They are not reality. I am going to therapy myself and it helps. Just can’t seem to bring myself to go to meetings. Found one a few blocks away, but they were not very welcoming. But I agree they (alcoholics) are selfish. The word I use is “self-absorbed”. Everything affects them and they cannot bear to be uncomfortable for a second. It’s always how something is going affect them. They have no tolerance/patience but want it from everyone else. We must all understand their feelings, wants, needs. Well, thanks for listening, didn’t want my first post to go on too long. I appreciate everyone’s comments. Have a good night!

  • C

    All of the posts are wonderful. I can relate to so many things that are written by such brave and strong people. I came to believe that a true A will eventually drink themselves to death if they cannot get it – I know my personality cannot live with an alcoholic. I have tried not talking, arguing, etc., but at times I had to say he was going to end up dead or in the hospital dying. Nothing worked! I am not a drinker, so I can’t imagine the difficulty in trying to stop ingesting liquor.

    My bf would have 4 beers, a glass of wine and then a Martini and go to sleep. How did he live?! He still drinks all day and night until he falls asleep and none of his family does anything about it.

    He also has a temper – makes no sense, but he, too, blamed me for anything and everything!!

  • Rick

    In response to the negativity of my post, I want nothing more than for my wife to love me because I love her. I have prayed and begged God to fix it. Ive read everything i can get my hands on and only missed a few Alanon meetings in four years. I know that god can fix this without lifting a finger. For some reason he has not as of today. I believe that god wants no one taking his place in our hearts. I made my AW my god in many ways. And he is fixing that and teaching me that I am of value as his child. That he wants happiness and joy for me as well as my wife. I truly believe that will happen. She and I have to be whole and complete in him before we can be a couple in true love. There is hope for joy and a real marriage. But the point is that one half of the marriage can’t fix the whole. We can only work on ourselves and our issues and pray for our qualifiers. It’s up to us to decide what is best for us and if we are keeping god from leading them to him. I’ve had to let go of her and let god have his way. He can probably do a better job than I have done anyway. Knowing that he is now in full control of my AW I can have joy for her healing.

  • Fa

    Reading all these comments makes me realise i am not alone and it gives you bit of strength. even though comments are so true and very hurting and so much one can relate. I been with my partner for last 10 years and we have two beautiful kids. In early days of my relation as any alcoholic she use to blame lie and accuse say that I have issues and if she feels this it’s because of me, she drinks because of me and my attitude, I tried to change myself many times. I still remember her yelling screaming hitting once she will get high. I remember days when my hands and body would be shaking as I was being emotionally black mailed and drained by her action. I would think she will change or will change her self as she will be totally different person, loving affectionate and caring when she is not drinking, but it will last for only few days and she will be back on to drinking again for days. And then will come out personality who does not care about anything what’s around her, kids , family don’t mean anything to her in that state, only people she will circle with are who either don’t know her habits or the ones who are in that state too. I have recently started going to Al-anon as my every try to get her help failed as she will never follow any help for more than a week, as soon as she starts to look as she is going to get better she will do it again. But for the better for my beautiful kids I have to try everything. Some days I feel like this whole scenario will eat me up but them I think of my kids, if I can not put up with it how will they cope with it in my absence, I might be fooling myself as once she is drunk she won’t care or feel anything and will try to get her way by black mailing or breaking things, as she gets blind to everything every human feeling or ethic. But I can not leave my children in situation which I can not stand, so only option for me is to accept it and keep struggling and finding a way to make it better. And reading stories of string people who have been working and living in these situations for last 30 years gives me hope. Some times I tell myself may be if she was with some one else he would have not put up with her for so long and may be that’s the reason faith brought us together and I have to be strong for her and our kids and find a away to make better for us as a family.

  • Fa

    To my earlier comment like all of us I just want a healthy happy future for my kids and wife and I hope we all do find it one day.

  • linda

    I can relate to everything you have on your post. I too see all the same behavior. I think their is a third party here . they do everything they can to hurt us. we have tried marriage counseling, I cancel because everything I shared that hurt me, he would do all the more. Its like he hates me. Or went he looks at me I reflect his pain.? Sits in silence a lot. but projects onto me what he is doing. Thinks I have spys watching him. Don’t understand were that is coming from…….

  • Rick

    I agree with Rick. Staying out of the way and letting God do His work is what I have chosen to do for myself, my AW and for our children. Regarding God’s hatred of divorce and the strength and guidance God has giving me regarding how to deal with my AW, I have chosen not to divorce and separate the children (who are 16, 11 and 8). To me, our children would suffer more. With me being granted sole custody (which the likely-hood of that occurring is very much in my favor) and having our children visit their mother every other weekend would be catastrophic. Due to past events and counseling they are quite aware of their mothers drinking problem and the results of her choices (which failed) and they are aware of the difference between her lifestyle and mine. So as they grow and mature more, they will have a much better view of right and wrong. They already know the terrible affects of drinking and how horrible her mother acted when her drinking was out of control. Now they have learned the difference and we are dealing with the next step, one day at a time; just as God wants us to do even though it may not be what we want to do.

  • Amy

    Well I have been having terrible heel pain off and on for a week..and after a trip to the er I am out of work for a week I have a heel spur…Even thought I have never been to an l-anon first one is this week..I can now see why they say detach.I need to detach somehow whether he is drinking or not.This week has taught me, that being around him even when he isn’t drinking makes me feel crazy…I am not living with a normal person…the only thing I can think to do right keep our conversations short and keep as much distance as I can between the two of us. I find if I am around him to much, I start to feel crazy myself. I do have a question, my 14 year old son wants to go with me to the Al-anon meeting. They offer NO Al-ateen meetings. Is this appropriate? Will he be welcome there where he is only 14?

  • Rick

    You’re son would be more than welcome in my Alanon group. One man brings his son who is younger than yours. If he’s not welcome, you should find a different meeting.
    Alanon is a process, please remember that. Don’t give up on it if you don’t feel fixed in the first few meetings. Share your story and find someone you feel comfortable with to be your sponsor. Sooner that later. It’s taken me four years of meetings to get sane. Detachment for me was a process to. I could only detach with anger and resentment. Then slowly it was just resentment. Then I was detached and just indifferent. Finally, I can say that I am detached mostly with compassion and love, although I still wavor.
    Alanon has saved my life. And for the first time since before I was married, I have some hope about the future. Alanon offers some great books at their meetings. My first meeting I was a wreck and I found non judgment only compassionate caring people who had or were walking in my shoes.

  • JC

    Debbi, I just read your post that ended with: “saving their “nice” person act for friends, distant family members, co-workers, etc.”

    It is amazing how an alcoholic may shine when they are around others. One of the alcoholics that was in my life for a while had an serious addiction to prescription medications. In fact, the substance abuser would steal them from the medical facilities where they would work.

    The pills would cause them to be real bubbly and fun to be around. That was even the case sometimes when I was with them, they were fun to be with…People that the substance abuser worked with, friends and even family members would get to see the “shinny” up side of the drug abuser’s personality…

    BUT, WHEN THE MEDS WORE OFF, oftentimes there would be a drastic about turn in their personality for the worst. Only those who were close to the alcoholic got to see the abusive side of the addict’s personality that would sometimes cause emotional and physical hurt to those closest to them.

    When the hurtful things would happen, there was never an apology. It was almost like the substance abuser felt justified in treating others so horribly.

    I guess this is why learning to let go of an alcoholic is so important.
    I guess this is why learning how to get out of harm’s way when living with an angry alcoholic is a must.
    I guess this is why we must learn how to detach from an alcoholic.
    I guess this is why we must learn how to deal with the insanity of alcoholism.

  • Amy

    Thanks so much Rick! I am going to take him with me. I have got to do something, if I don’t I will surely go insane. I hope they do have books there. I will buy one of each! I am a bit nervous and feel a bit uncomfortable about going. I really don’t like crowds of people, but rather I do or not, I have got to just pull myself together , and do it! I hope I can get beyond the anger and resentment, its chewing me apart inside.

  • Rick

    I have always been quite and kind of shy. You’ll find that the majority of people in Alanon are just like you. That’s another incredible thing about the program. Rarely have I seen type A’s in our program. You don’t have to say a word if you don’t want to and no one thinks that’s odd. Some people don’t share for months or ever longer. But it sure helps everyone to share. Hearing each others stories is healing.
    Two books I have benefitted from: Opening Our Hearts Transforming Our Losses.
    And The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior.
    They will really open your eyes! God bless you. I would live to know what you think about the program. Keep us posted

  • karen

    Hello everyone, I have been reading posts but have not replied for some time. My alcoholic has been in a intervention program for the past 8/9 weeks. Sadly he discharged himself for the booze and is now again homeless. I visited him weekly while he was in the program it was nice to be with him while he was sober and I felt happy. Now 3 days have past since he discharged himself and has not stopped drinking. I saw him this morning and he is back to his abusive behavior with awful words that cut me in two. He told me today that he cares for no one at all. I believe they know what they are saying and the booze gives them the courage to speak what they really feel.

    My alcoholic uses everyone he meets in one way or another and I know now I have been used for 11 years and I really went to the bottom of the heap. I still crazily hope he will change even though he tells me he does not love me, later I will receive a call from him somewhere asking for something, it goes on like this over and over.

    I attend a counseling session weekly now and also attend Al-anon. The alcoholics in our lives make us so unhappy because they cannot be there for us emotionally and that is what we are so desperately wanting. I know it hurts so much. love to you all

  • JC

    Karen, I know this is difficult for you to see this happening to your friend. Take care of yourself and get to as many Al-anon meetings as possible. In my experience, when someone tries to get clean and sober and then they fail, they alcoholic has a tendency to party even harder than before. I think that they feel like helpless losers because they failed at staying sober.

    It sounds like you are on your way to higher places in life where you will find healing for yourself. Stay on the path of meeting with your counselor and going to Al-anon meetings. Don’t get dragged back into the pits of the insanity of alcoholism. You might enjoy reading: “How To Have Tough Love With A Problem Drinker“.

  • DJ

    Dear Laureen and other readers, I would like to offer hope to those of you in alcoholic relationships. My husband and I have been together 10 years. 9 of which were so up and down and all around, the same as many of you are experiencing. The abuse, the blame game, etc. never changed until I changed. As I grew closer to God and opened my heart to Him He began to change me into a woman that finally came to realize that is worthy of love and respect and would not except less.

    As I began to stand up to the alcoholic behavior in a loving way with healthy boundaries (had to learn all about this) my husband either had to change or we could not be together…period. That is the way it had to be.

    He has been sober for 1 year now and has no desire to drink. He went to treatment 4 times over 10 years. It takes what it takes. Camprall was a tremendous help to him he said because it alleviated the physical cravings while he also began to develop a relationship with his “Higher Power.”

    For us it seemed to be a matter of me standing up to the abuse, saying “no more” and stepping back and getting out of the way and letting God work. I thought God needed my help…lol! But it wasn’t until I really got out of the way did God really do some work…great work!

    My husband is a new man! And I am a new woman…thank God! I never gave up on God and I never gave up on my husband. We are certainly a work in progress but we have “come a longgggg way baby!” I will keep praying even when things are going well and keep working on myself.

    I have found the key to my husbands heart is him seeing the reflection of me letting God into my heart and trusting…trusting Him. (Still working on this, sometimes it seems to come easy and other times not so much). Blessings to you all!

  • Debbi

    Thank you JC for confirming in your post what I and surely many others feel when the A’s anger always seemed directed to the one closest to them. I did take the advice of the Al Anon groups I did attend and detached and then had to go complete no contact during separation because he increased his antics.

    What has me baffled is now months after divorce he still is making me a target of the anger. And the worst of all is he knew I was battling some health issues and at one point he agreed to stay until I finished my treatment so I would have my insurance in place and he even let me down on that. I can’t believe that all the illegal and amazing things he did to me over 20 years could be done by someone under the influence–still has me scratching my head in disbelief as more and more keeps coming to light of things he did that I did not even know about at the time. Makes me wonder if alcohol ever was the issue?

  • Pat

    I am just at the beginning of this process. It is scary to learn to set boundaries with love. I feel like I had to have permission to do this and it helped very much going to Al Anon. Went thru a period of being very mad at the way I was raised due to always being told to be nice and agreeable. Also was punished for being angry, which makes me very angry!! LOL I recently read the book called The Vortex by Ester Hicks. Even though it is about channeling it says some very valuable things. One of the first is that we MUST have a primary relationship with God (Source etc ). We need to get out love and sense of self worth from him/her. I am now very actively seeking a closer relationship with God. The change in my husband has been amazing. It was just last week that he freely admitted that he has a problem with alcohol. Before he would say that ALL men drink and that it is just the way it is. While I find that hopeful I know not to take my eyes off God and put my hope back in him. Is there anything you can share that has helped you with your relationship with God?

  • Wave

    Dear readers, I can only share my own experience and let you know, Amy, that I was with my last boyfriend, for three years. He was an alcoholic and I am pretty sure a person with bi-polar disorder. He was far more out-of-control when he was not drinking because he must have been numbing the bi-polar symptoms with the drinking. I think this is often the case. Unfortunately, he was so self-absorbed and caught-up in the denial-thing….that although he showed some remorse for his abusive behavior (only when he was sober which wasn’t very often)…it just wasn’t enough. I gave him the ultimatum-rehab or I am out. He chose drinking. I am much happier now and able to focus on my own happiness and goals. Prior to this shorter relationship I had stayed far too long in an eight-year relationship with an alcoholic. I am grateful to God that he gave me the strength to leave this one….MUCH sooner. My intention is to see the Red Flags next time…on the very start of the trail and heed the warning and not take one step more with an alcoholic or addict! Life it too short to be with people who can’t love like we do. I pray you find your way out and focus on good friends and people who treat you with the love that you deserve. Blessings, Wave

  • Pez

    JC or other ex-alcoholics, I have a question? Were there ever times during the abuse of others that you had clarity of thought of what you were doing and broke down in tears over your behavior? Or was it all straight denial and pushing it down so not to look at it?

  • Sally

    Laureen – you asked if there isn’t some higher power who hears prayer. There is, and many times the answer to our prayers is “NO.” People don’t want to hear that, so they assume God hasn’t answered their prayers. There are no unanswered prayers. We simply have to have accept that what we want isn’t His plan for us.

    As for getting depressed reading the stories we share here – well, they’re not happy stories, but they paint the most realistic picture of life with a drunk. The stories aren’t meant to depress, but illuminate the trials we’ve faced and the reasons for the decisions we’ve made regarding life with a drunk. Yes, many of us leave the drunks to their miserable lives. They are the most selfish people walking on the earth. Expectations of a reasonably good life with a drunk are foolish and wishful thinking. Expecting a drunk to apologize for anything they do when they’re knee-walking, black-out drunk is like expecting snow in August. It ain’t gonna happen – EVER. Their view is that since they don’t remember what they did and said, it didn’t occur and they’re not at fault. Interestingly, to hear them tell it, they’re never at fault. It’s everyone else’s fault that things get so screwed up.

    I left the drunk in my life 18 months ago. The first few weren’t fun, but as time has passed and I’ve gotten on with my life, everything has slowly gotten so much better. I still mourn the death of the relationship, and I sometimes miss him, but I am not a doormat, I am not an adult’s mother/nanny/keeper/enabler, I am not a convenience appliance, I am not the bad person the drunk tried to make me out to be. I kept a job, I did yard work, I cleaned house, I took care of everything and everyone. He did none of those things, and as time passed, he did even less, including work.

    Finally, it came down to answering one question – him or me? Who do I live my life for? I chose me. Anything else would have been a slow, painful, depressing spiral into the life of a drudge, and I deserve more – because I’m willing to work for it. He wasn’t willing to work for anything, except the next bottle. It was difficult to start the business of taking my things and leaving, but it’s ultimately the best choice for me. He made his choice, like all drunks, and they almost always choose being drunk over being anything else. Life’s too short for such crap, and I’m not sorry I left it behind.

    I wish you well on your journey. Please keep praying and reaching out for help, but know that in the end, the decision is and always has been yours. Don’t let your fears keep you from making decisions based on what’s in your best interest. Trust me (and lots of others here) – the drunk will never make a choice that’s for anyone’s benefit but theirs.

  • Debbi

    I just wanted to share something from my research on alcoholism that helps me see their behavior. This was written by Dr. David J. Carey & he has a website with a lot of information. His main points from “The Truth About Alcoholics & Alcoholism” are:
    “All Alcoholics are Liars-there isn’t one actively drinking alcoholic in the world who isn’t a liar. . .”
    “All Alcoholics Are Manipulators. . .use people to meet their own ends. They make people angry and in the process prove to themselves that people are cruel to them. . .They will pitch one person against another. . .They manipulate every event in life to their own advantage and in so doing cause people to never know who they can trust.”
    “All Alcoholics Are In Love with Drink. . .people are objects to the alcoholic. . .to be used as a reason to drink. . .Everything in the life of an alcoholic is used as a means of getting to their one true love-drink.”
    “All Alcoholics Know the Truth About Themselves. . .Alcoholics know their behavior is reprehensible. . .to protect themselves from this terrible truth they create a false front of superiority and put others down as a means to look good.”
    “There is NO Such Thing as a Functional Alcoholic. . myth of the functional alcoholic is deeply embedded in society. . .many people addicted to alcohol believe that if they go to work, do a day’s work, contribute to the family income & show up at important family events they are functional. The truth is they are not. . .vast majority of them are emotionally regressed, socially inhibited, psychological crippled individuals. . .unable to function without their daily fix of alcohol.”
    “You and the Alcoholic. . .time to realize these simple truths & not believe the lies. . .time to realize that any alcoholic who is actively drinking isn’t worth staying with. . .what do you do? Deliver a simple truth of your own–Stop drinking and I stay; keep drinking and I leave. . .”

    Hope this helps you all like it helped me.

  • Pez

    I don’t believe completely God is saying NO. Me and many others prayed for my XA and I did see God working to reach him, Decline, consequences of bad choices, arrest, court system, etc…. It was possible at one time or another, but he pushed it aside and did not take the warnings. This is the strength of the addiction. If they do not want to change and you are getting to the point it’s effecting your well being–then it’s time to go (God says NO more & so do you).
    We only are responsible for what we know and many of us were unaware of the full nature of alcoholism. A’s and abusers are excellent at picking the innocent, kind and loving out of a crowd. Once you do your research and this can take years of learning–then you are fully accountable if you stay. If I would have known what I know now, I would have never got involved in the first place!
    We forget too about the decline of mind, body, & spirit as alcohol abuse continues. In Daniel Amens book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”. The long term alcoholics brain is like swiss cheese. They may reach a point where they are so mentally impaired and the command pathways in there brain are so hard wired there is very little hope of anyone reaching them, including God. At this point we must all say God have mercy and let them go and I will have mercy on myself and let them go.
    Leaving someone is not easy, it too is a rollercoaster of emotions, but in time you will heal. I still cry at the destruction of what could have been a beautiful man.

  • Wave

    I feel sad for the people (we people) who love those who will not and cannot love back that we have to mourn the death of the relationship that was really an illusion where we projected our goodness onto and into a black hole. I know I sound harsh and we can all see glimpses of the light in even the darkest entity, but I am sorry for the pain that we have to feel when we leave realizing that we were hoping for the change, the love, the recognition for the loyalty, the gratitude, the apologies and appreciation that will never! I know that a few, maybe 10% of chronic addicts, find the will through themselves and/or God to change, but the percentage is very small.

    Please take care of your own loving hearts. I strongly urge leaving before more harm is done. It is sad, but true, what Pez says about the alcoholic’s brain. In my eight years with an active drinker I saw his brain become damaged…he was no longer the same person as he was before he completely succumbed to the disease. They will play-out the drinking-drama with or without you…Peace, Wave

  • Deb

    The question of whether an alcoholic is aware of the pain he/she causes or cares about the people they hurt. From a pragmatic viewpoint, which is only ‘in my opinion’, that question is one that you pose when you are ‘intimate.’ Seriously. Lets say you and I are having a conversation, do you actually ask me that question first? No. You say ‘hi there’ and we talk about a few superficial things and then we bring up the true stuff. You say ‘..about last night..’ Right? Why are we skipping to the part where ‘we are intimate’ before we’ve taken the First Steps of conversation. Why is this important? When you first begin a conversation, you are ‘approaching one another.’ During this time you identify where each other is at emotionally. If I approach a bull dog which is growling at me ‘blindly’ as though ‘he is a kitten’ I am going to be bitten. If you ask the question to the alcoholic once ‘..about last night…’ and he was mean or cruel to you in your answer, maybe you do it a second time. Then, perhaps a third time. How many times do you have to ‘expose your softness’ to a bulldog looking to bite you? Logically, you stop. Insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again.’ Don’t be insane. You have to approach the problem differently. And, First Thing, you have to see if the person talking to you cares. You can tell they care. You can feel it in your gut, you can tell by their actions, you can tell by their words. Really? Do you believe if I say in passing ‘I love you’ that I love you? The words come easy. The actions come if they mean it. The moment you have convinced yourself that they ‘don’t appear to care.’ From that time forward ‘act’ as though they don’t. Who cares if they care ‘in theory’. Who cares if they care ‘in the secret moments you never hear, see or experience.’ Theoretically, right now a tree is falling in some forest. It doesn’t mean anything to you because you don’t ‘feel it..taste it..have it Touch you.’ If the alcoholic ‘acts’ like he doesn’t care only Rationality would say ‘you must respond as though that is his True Disposition.’

    Why would you spend months, days, years on the question whether..’my dog understands some English words?’ Who cares? You experience them by what they give, they aren’t human so they don’t have to talk. Your alcoholic ‘acts’ like he doesn’t give a shit, why are you analyzing it? Are you bored? Do you really have no life at all? Watching TV is more ‘of a life’ then considering whether the alcoholic cares about you. If he acts like he doesn’t, respond like he doesn’t. You don’t have to leave him. There is an ambiance from energy..a.feeling when someone is around. Even if its ‘ugly’ its still ‘company.’ An alcholic is ‘company’ even if its ‘bad company’ and to be honest company is important. Save your Analysis for someone ‘worthy of it.’ If your life is so boring you can’t figure out something else to be concerned about, go get surgery. Seriously, go get your teeth fixed or some other painful medical procedure. Afterwards, you won’t care about the alcoholic and that is where you Must be to live with them. There are homeless shelters that have people in them that ‘need your concern.’ There are children’s hospitals with little kids who need someone to bring a teddy bear and just ‘care.’ Find someone who is Worthy. Your Alcoholic ‘in some Strange Otherworldly Dimension’..maybe cares. Who cares? In This World, IN This Present Moment, all they give you is bullshit. If you want to feed on BS and convince yourself with your mind ‘you are getting something’ its ok. You are also Living in Another Dimension. LIve here, let them live in Wonderland. Why? You assume you have so many years of life to live. Stop assuming, enjoy now as much as you can. You cannot do that worry about hypotheticals.

  • Deb

    I have to be humorous. If you get your teeth fixed and come home crying, need him to help you. Watch him ‘not care.’ Watch him tell you to go drive yourself to the pharmacy to get your medicine, to take one of the kids with you because they are ‘bothering him.’ You’ll wake up when you encounter something like this. You can’t depend on them to call an ambulance if you had a heart attack. Open the eyes with a true emergency and watch how they tell you ‘to just deal with it.’ You will die on the floor of your kitchen before they will call 911. Then, they will blame you for it. Well, for making a mess!

  • JC

    Deb, thanks for your insight. All I can think of in response is there are many reasons that those of us who love alcoholics stay in situations where we are vulnerable to be hurt by them.

    I think that it’s important for us to understand what the personality attributes of substance abusers are…the common threads.

    When we discuss the question “does an alcoholic care about who they hurt”, I think it helps us all to understand the alcoholic and ourselves better. It gives us a chance to help one another, your posts do Deb, so that we can learn how to detach, let go and love an alcoholic without conditions.

    Once we learn how to not let the alcoholics behaviors affect us so, then we start loving ourselves apart from how we are treated by them.

    Once we start being able to not let an alcoholic’s behaviors affect us, we will then spend much less time focusing on them and more time reaching out to help others.

    Many alcoholics are well worth sticking it out for, hoping and having faith that things will change and some do as DJ has shared in the comment above (Click Here To Read It).

    When we get involved in support groups, then we start to realize that there are people who are dealing with alcoholics who care enough to help us in our times of need. Real friends who will stick closer to us than our real family members.

    Good Reads:
    Understanding Alcoholic Behavior
    Irrational Behavior By Alcoholic
    How To Not React To An Alcoholic

  • Wave

    You nailed-it, Deb! That’s the bottom-line. You will die one way or another if you stay. You will lose yourself, lose your hair, get ulcers, have miscarriages—from the stress—and if the alcoholic abuses you, physically and surely verbally…you know they won’t be bothered to call an ambulance if you, or even a child, needs help. After all of the damage an alcoholic does…does it matter if they feel guilt? Does that make it better for anyone? I am not condemning you for wondering…we ALL wanted to feel that they feel like we feel with real human emotions etc. at one point….we just get to a point where we realize…we need to live our life and leave the mine field…just walk off….because if we stand there long enough…it never ends well.

  • Pez

    Point taken. I see what your saying. I just wondered. And it probably varies anyway with the level of addiction and sober moments. But if they treat you badly, what’s the point of wondering, is there a heart in there somewhere? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar–Sigmund Freud.

  • Wave

    Lol, I like that…a cigar is just a cigar …Freud was onto something!

  • Tracy

    Morning Everyone,


    I agree with everything you have said. I asked my AH to leave 5 months ago and I really do not know the man I am dealing with now. Last Thursday I was so down I can understand why people feel like ending it all (i never would) it was hormonal, anyway I was on the phone to him and I told him how I felt and he said I am putting the phone down now. Not one bit of support and I supported him for 25 years. All he said was stop texting me that I was getting on his nerves BRILLIANT.


  • Tracy

    Actually was the best thing he did it let me see how uncaring and selfish he is. Its all about him, always has been. He even got jealous of our dog he said I loved the dog more than him. At least my dog loves me and comes up for a cuddle when he senses I am a bit down.


  • DJ

    I am overwhelmed with joy for YOU! To hear you share how you are working on your relationship with God! I believe, that there is nothing more important we can spend our time on!!! I believe, that that is the reason we were created! To love Him and to be loved by Him! I believe, you will NEVER EVER regret a moment spent getting closer to Him! I grew up in an abusive childhood. I was in several abusive relationships. I myself was once the ADDICT! Both alcohol and meth. I was an absolute mess. I haven’t used meth in 10 years and haven’t had a drink in 4 years. THANK GOD! Only by His Grace! The most important thing I believe that helped me was spending time in His Word. I can not fully explain how that book (Bible :-)) changes a person but it does. I have never met anyone that didn’t devote some sort of time each day in reading the Bible that didn’t experience amazing transformation. I have to work on staying in it. There always seems to be something wanting to take up my time and keep me from it. I have to fight on occasion for that time, literally, to spend in prayer and reading. Life is busy. But I came to realize I can not make it without that devoted time. Things always start to get difficult when I make my excuses for not having time. Never stop praying! I used to let up on my prayers when things would get going good. Then when they got hard I’d start praying again. Now I pray every day throughout the day and I’ve learned to declare things. For example, even when things weren’t going as well I would say things like, “we are a man and woman of God. We are always kind gentle and patient with each other (even when this wasn’t the case so much). We honor God and each other in all we say and do.” Every morning we pray the Armor of God prayer together (Ephesians 6:10-18). Well I say it and my husband always says amen with me at the end. That’s good enough. Every singe night before we go to sleep I pray the Armor prayer over us (my spiritual mentor taught me this)I pray it quietly myself. I let God lead the way. I hope this helps in some way. God Bless you and your husband Pat and all readers!

  • Laura

    DJ, when I read your post…I thought I was reading something I had written. I have truly gone through the EXACT experiences that you have…as well as my fiance. God IS the center of everything, and I believe if He isn’t…NOTHING is going to change (for the better anyway). I saw it with my own eyes. He had to hit his rock bottom, which he did…and not until he got to the point that he “asked” God to help him, did anything change. As SOON as he asked for His help, everything changed….his heart, his mind, his desire to NEVER drink a drop of alcohol again, and after 4 mo. of our separation, my letting go of the thought that I could “help” or “fix” him, until I stopped taking the things that he said and did to me “personally”, that God would intervene and help him when the time was right!! And wow…did He ever!! My prayers were answered, I learned SO much about myself, and my faith that I already had in God QUADRUPLED! All God was waiting for was for Patrick to “ask” and for me to let go and trust that He knew what He was doing! I had come to accept that if we were meant to be together we would be, and if not…I would accept it as God’s will. I’m happy to say that it definitely WAS His will, and we have been back together since February 14th, doing awesome, he hasn’t drank a DROP, and we go to Church every week…NEVER doubt, MIRACLES DO HAPPEN!! Have faith…let go, and let GOD!!
    I’m so happy things turned out so wonderful for you both as well DJ, and I’m happy that you and I both got out of His way, so He could do His work! I now understand what “praying” really is…it’s not just “asking” for something and if we don’t see it right away, (in our own time frame), doesn’t mean He’s not listening. I also learned that when I pray, I have to pray for strength and acceptance of what the outcome is…and have faith that He knows what’s best for me, and for each and every one of us!…whether it’s what I wanted, or thought I needed. Just have faith and know you are not going to always feel the way you do right now, sometimes we go through these horrible things, and feelings to change “us” and make us stronger, and better than we have ever been before!
    My thoughts and prayers are with you that are still going through the pain, and just know that there IS light at the end of the dark tunnel! Peace and love to all of you!


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