Coping With Lying Alcoholics-Why they lie so much

How can you tell when an alcoholic is lying? There lips are moving. Coping (dealing) with the lying nature of the problem drinker is better done through accepting the fact that lies are a way of life for the substance abuser. They really have a problem with being truthful about anything.

Why do they lie so much? Let’s face it, they are living in a world of denial and if we get honest enough with ourselves, we will realize that we are living in denial as well. It’s really not important to understand why they do this, just accept the fact and leave them alone when they do it.


The sooner you can accept that lying is a part of the alcoholic’s lifestyle the better you will be able to cope. Dealing with someone who is not telling the truth is frustrating because it causes us to want to argue with them about not telling the truth.

Just learn how to zip your lip.

When we stop confronting them then there will be a lot less finger pointing going on. There is great freedom to be enjoyed once we stop judging an alcoholic.

When we learn that we do not have to try and prove to them that we know they are telling us a lie, then our frustration level will go down. This will help us to also stop blaming an alcoholic for much of our stress.

What is the point of confronting an alcoholic who is lying anyway? You know they are just going to deny the truth and stand up for the false reality that they perceive to be truth. Alcoholic liars come in every shape from a teenage son, daughter, spouse, mom, dad, grandmother or grandfather.

The reason they lie so much is because alcoholics are filled with shame. Have you ever known someone who when they were a child said they wanted to be an alcoholic when the grow up? Of course not, no one sets a goal to be addicted to some type of drug or substance. The alcoholic thinks and feels as though “they” are a mistake. For that reason they will lie about countless matters.

Unfortunately, lying is a comfortable way of life for the alcoholic. The best way of coping (or, dealing) with this problem is to just accept the truth and let them tell their lies without you pretending to be the private investigator who knows what really happened.

Trust me… When you start letting go of all the things they are doing, you will start losing your temper with an alcoholic less.

Just let them live their dysfunctional life and you enjoy yours without the additional fight for the day.
Author: JC Edited by: Odum On

Alcohol Addiction Family

How to Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic


335 comments to Coping With Lying Alcoholics-Why they lie so much

  • Pez

    Patricia, if you want a definition for PTSD it is cognitive dissonance. it is Your set of standards of how the world should be or people should be usually set in the US as a child or with a religious beliefs. in contrast to that the alcoholic acts otherwise or opposite of how we were raised or are set of personal standards. this causes trauma because this is the way we cannot imagine the world or people being. you must confront your cognitive dissidence and accept that some people in the world are evil, cruel, manipulative, use people, excetera excetera excetera. if you still have any doubt about this watch the ID channel! acceptance is the key to overcome the cognitive dissonance. alcoholics also have cognitive dissidence but in a different way. they use this to justify their actions and the world they’re living in and deny reality. but we must accept our own cognitive dissidence and accept reality for what it is and the alcoholic for what he or she is.

  • mmmm

    this is just too exciting a forum uncensored where we can honestly share. Thanks Pez, and I think was J on previous page, i would like to add to (julie), that my understand of what I have learned is that “they drink because they are alcoholics”, which is a disease in itself that has symptoms of 999 other mental illnesses, its not caused by PTSD its caused by alcoholism, their symptoms and actions and the only treatment is AA or NA..my therapist who’s working with them for 45 yrs says, that its extremely rare case where they genuinely have issues of depression. In my experience with my alc, she wants to blame the weather, equally as much as her PTSD for her reason to drink and drug. Cloudy day, sunny day, bad day at work, child abuse, molestation, being raped in the drug world, all horibble experiences, BUT, what about the Drinking? UNTIL they address the drinking in AA, its impossible to know whats true and whats not true cause when they’re lips are moving they’re lying.
    I found therapists for HER, WASTE of time, and effort, she turned them into enablers. My therapist won’t see an ALC or addict unless they are in daily attendance of AA/NA, and he doesnt help them with alcoholism, he helps them understand the program, and get going in it, with the other issues of re-patriation with family and so forth, but he in 45 yrs has not seen successful “happily ever-after” romances with the ALC/Addict and the sig other they destoryed while active. In my short humble time bouncing around 800 or so alanon meetings i have not seen one example of “happily ever after”. Only happy one can be the sig other when we start putting in boundaries and taking care of ourself, and getting distance from the diseased person.

    Just my experience, I’ve been hitting therapy 5 days a week since this whole thing, but it takes a unique therapist to set me straight, most of them don’t get alcoholism. Most just want our money!

  • Pez

    Yes, whenever I have a problem with cognitive dissonance I come to the site and read the threads. It brings me back into reality. Well he said he loved me he said he never leave me and on and on. Words are easy, actions tell the truth! Bust through your cognitive dissidence and you will be free. You two were in a fantasy world believing they were good deep down inside, believing they love you,. We have to accept our part in this whole circus. It doesn’t mean it was our fault! this is just the way we were raised and the way we are. and if you had no previous experience with alcoholics or addicts how would you know? until the Mack truck hit you and you realize you are had! and that’s the truth.

  • How is it that I can’t stop thinking about the guy I had in my life that is an alcoholic? I kicked him out of my house the day after Mother’s Day after finding 4 other women on his phone he was contacting, two I believe he had intimate encounters with. He called me and told me he was off to rehab because of the hurt he caused me. Two months later he calls me out of the blue in a hotel room drunk, next time a week later from a park that he slept at, then a hospital where he was admitted after a bad one. I love him and every time I try to encourage him and help him. How do I stop feeling that I have to helping him? I know it’s very unhealthy for me but I always remember his kindness and personality and it melts me heart. Do I need counseling? Am I weird for the feelings I have for him? I don’t know. There’s so much more to our story but won’t go into that. Anybody have any suggestions??

  • Julie21

    You are right Mmmmm. We went through 4 therapists before we found one who actually understood alcoholism and the truth about living with one. My exah went to therapists several times when he was forced to by the courts and all they did was fall for his BS.

  • mmmm

    Yes Julie, its insane, I guess i had 4 therapists before I found one good one. The problem too alot of therapists are allegedly recovering alcoholics, so their sympathies lie with the alcoholic, not the sig other/abuse victim . Brenda, for me counseling helped alot, but ya gotta find one like Julie above said, and Im saying does not think you’re “crazy” for having the feelings you do, but simply recognized you have been manipulated into an abusive relationship. Although not the same mental illness, there’s alot of info on the web about “breaking up with a narcissist”, alot of the same dynamics at play. they bait us , and lure us in only for further manipulation and abuse.

    I dont walk around with a degree in addiction science, nor should i have to be on guard at all times for some attractive woman who pretends she’s ok, and then 6 months later, the tru colors come out. What I fell for was the illusion of normalcy, and its not a defect of mine, its the highly skilled cunning manipulative disease of active alcoholism. no civilian non-alc, would likely be able to detect that, unless I had been thru it before and I was not. I generally approach strangers in life in good faith, and assume people are what they say they are, I wasn’t born to be on the constant look out for seductive manipulators. So having fallen the way I did, yea it sucks, it was a big waste of time, but I can’t beat myself up every day and say something is wrong with me.

    Codependents anonymous is also a good 12-step, helped me alot. Just to start meeting and interacting with similar people who have been thru similar circumstances and have been victimized and manipulated helped me alot.

  • Pez

    Brenda, its obsession! Alcoholics have a way of drawing you in and getting so wrapped up in them and they’re crazy making they become an obsession! Obsessive thinking. You were going to have to battle that! We have all had it. Don’t be thinking of all the nice things he’s done don’t let yourself concentrate on that because frankly my girl it’s all an act to keep you Enslaved. instead, to free yourself, only let yourself think about all the wrong and hideous things he has done because that is my guess it is more than 80% of your relationship that is horrid I may be Brenda, its obsession! Alcoholics have a way of drawing you in and getting so wrapped up in them and they’re crazy making they become an obsession! Obsessive thinking. You were going to have to battle that! We have all had it. Don’t be thinking of all the nice things he’s done don’t let yourself concentrate on that because frankly my girl it’s all an act to keep you Enslaved. instead, to free yourself, only let yourself think about all the wrong and hideous things he has done because that is my guess it is more than 80% of your relationship that is horrid I may be 10 to 20 percent good. there are programs you can get on how to break up sets of thinking and you need to use the tools. you will get to the point where you know you have to break free totally and cut all ties so you too can be free and then you can move forward.10 to 20 percent good. there are programs you can get on how to break up sets of thinking and you need to use the tools. you will get to the point where you know you have to break free totally and cut all ties so you too can be free and then you can move forward.

  • Pez

    sorry for the repetitive former post but I think you get the idea. tried to copy and paste it and it did this weird stuff lol.

  • Pez

    Everyones recovery is different.

  • mmmm

    Hey All, Im curious if sober coach dave, had a relationship when he was active. I understand what dave is saying as the reasons for the lying but my experience with being a sober friend of alcoholic is that the active alc doesnt put too much pre-meditated thought into the lying, it becomes a sort of auto-pilot. My alc gf actually told me once she doesnt even realize 1/2 the stuff she says it just flows out.

    I’d be curious is sober coach dave had a relationship of romantic nature when he was active, and if they relationship survived his recovery and they are happily ever after. I have not met one couple that has survived either active alcohol addiciton, or recovery of the alcoholic partner (unless they were like 80 yrs old when they got sober).

    Another question for Dave, how long does he consider it took him to “find freedom” from alcohol and to stop lying and taking full responsibility and accountablity for his daily actons and behaviors? 1 mon, 6 mon, 2 yrs? etc? I have many recovery friends who are sober 5, 10, 15, 20 yrs and they’re still not responsible adults, the way a non-aclohlic is. Curious what you consider your timetable looking back,.

    Tnx all.

  • Why won’t my alcoholic ex-boyfriend leave me alone?
    I have made is crystal clear that it is over but yet he continues to contact me. This break up has been very difficult for me and continues to be, it’s only been 2 months since I got him out.
    Any advice I will listen too.
    At the end of my rope.

  • Sally

    Carol:

    You know the answer to your question. He continues to contact you because you continue to respond to his needling. Your only hope is to cut it off. Dead stop. Delete him or block him or do whatever you need to, but STOP RESPONDING to him! You’re going to have to grow a backbone and toughen up. Wearing down their victims is something drunks are experts at doing. Your choice is to cut off all contact or throw in the towel and continue to allow him to yank your chain. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but drunks are the most selfish, manipulative, conniving, lying, backstabbing, self-absorbed creatures walking this planet.

    Trust me on this. Once you cut off all contact and stick to your resolve, he’ll need to find someone else to prop on. Drunks aren’t known for standing on their own two feet. That’s what they have everyone else for, right? In all seriousness, if you don’t put a stop to this, don’t expect him to. It wouldn’t serve his needs to cut off his lifeline. don’t get sucked back in. If you look through some of the older posts on this site, you’ll see my story. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t easy, but I’m almost at 4 years out of one of the worst times of my life that lasted 5 years. It’s hard to cut them off and never look back, but the only alternative is to allow their crazy making back into our lives, and that is not an option. Living with a drunk’s insanity will rob your life of any joy. Don’t do it.

    Take care and stay strong. Stay with the people on this site. They’re smart, tough and loving. They’ll help get you through.

  • Sandy Erickson

    Sober Coach Dave said he quit lying when he admitted he needed help, I wish my sober husband could get to that point. He had to quit drinking to stay out of jail. But he still blames everyone else for his drinking and his problems. Specifically me . . when he was drunk throwing me around the house while I was in an arm cast. . he is so angry and resentful towards me for calling the cops on him . . it’s mind blowing and I don’t think it will ever change. . and when he tells me some thing the story changes 2 or 3 times over a few days before he gets to the truth and what is flipping bizarre is he didn’t need to lie in the first place, its pathological and drives me nuts!!!!

  • Pez

    Yep, like I said every alcoholics recovery is different! as I have now become friends with my XAB ex wife she told me when he was sober for 8 years for the children he was still very manipulative and emotionally abusive and controlling. so some never recover from the years of drinking and the habits that were formed. some do but those are very rare that they return to a normal respectful loving human being. I think way too many years way too much brain damage

  • mmmm

    One thing, I have learned or absorbed thru my therapist, and hearing other alcoholics in recovery, is that its an attitudinal disease, and not really a brain damage thing from what i’ve learned in my experience only. One interesting thing I’ve heard from parents of alcoholics, and recovering alcoholics is that “there was something different about him/her when he/she was a kid (7,8,9,10 yrs old) , he or she used to make up stores and lie alot”, this supports my therapists theory, that its a lifelong disease of the attitude, long before alcohol and drugs enter the picture. If at some point in adult life they do get to AA or NA, their peers there, start to crackdown, and ‘call” them, on their BS, to crack the attitude problem, which persists without alcohol, if the alc allows it, but the number one goal is “don’t drink” whicn in my opinion is the reason the lies and manipulation continue for years.
    IF anything they have a “new” manipulation with which to lie “well I havent drank in X day/years/months….its not about the drinking its about the attitude inherint since childhood.
    I was reading the top of this page/article again about lying where it says “You know they are just going to deny the truth and stand up for the false reality”…..well I have to say I DIDNT KNOW, and that was the problem. Its not a matter of my denial or not wanting to know, its the alcoholics “SKILL SET” of lying, they give dribs and drabs of the truth, whatever works best for what they want to tell you, so you never know whats true and not true.
    I was faced with this alot, in meetings of alanon which in my area are full of AA men, attending alanon and they’d say ” yea but YOU KNOW she’s lying”, NO actually I DIDNT KNOW, and had no way of knowing. THEY LIVED it, so THEY KNOW. I DIDNT LIVE IT, I’m not an alc…so I DO NOT KNOW. I WAS NOT BRED to KNOW, and their DISEASE is CUNNING, beyond anyone else on the planet.
    I got to a point where I “practiced” assuming >>>its a lie, yep, that sounds like a lie, that doesnt fit, but what about this? What about that? The more questions I would ask about the truthfulness of her statements the more hostile she would get, so I started to DEDUCE, that she’s likely lying but they are experts at leaving you in doubt!
    For example, maybe triggered by this blog, I decided to text her yesterday. Havent spoken since june, she’s in a hot southern state, im in Northeast (but she’s from my town)……….here’s a brief synopsis of the lying mechanism via text:

    Me: we’re having the best summer here in a while, how are you bearing the 110 degrees down there?
    She: Hope you enjoy it (a non-answer).
    me: I’m surprised you havent travelled this summer and you’ve stayed down there. ( I dont believe for a minute she has not travelled all summer, the girl has un-limited flow of money from her ex husbands and boyfriends all over the country)
    She: What do mean by that?
    me: Well usually you’re off to _______ state, or even here to enjoy the beaches
    She: why so many questions?
    Me: Have you had a chance to see your new grandkid yet? (in another state where she has at least 3 male friends).

    She: __________________________

    then I called and asked the same last question about the grandkid by voice:
    she: Im not telling you, anything i tell you you twist around.
    me: Oh really? What specifically, have i twisted around? Tell me something specific
    She: Nows not a good time to go into this.

    Click hangup.
    —————
    OF COURSE its not a good time, its never a good time for them to be honest, its never a good time, for them to explain themselves or be held accountable. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING TO KEEP you IN THE DARK is their #1 agenda.
    WHY? because its not ONLY YOU. they tell everybody close to them 5 different versions of the truth, so NOBODY knows what is truth, and NOBODY knows what exactly precisely is a lie,,,and god forbid you and the other 5 compare notes? The alcoholic will go into a meltdown “my life is falling apart, I can’t believe what you did”….etc…

    Anything resembling accountability is OFF LIMITS for them. They will stomp and scream, and bit and LIE more until the cows come home but you will not get the un-adulterated truth. NEVER.
    BUT FIRST,,,,you/we have to begin believing that the likelihood of them being honest is unrealistic. THAT takes TIME…I DIDNT KNOW….and I CONFESS I STILL “dont know”. The hostility I get, proves me that LIKELY I’m correct in my assumption that she’s lying . The lack of details, the omission of details she does….HELPS me believe I’m right but I do not know…
    They are expert liars, and manipulators, whether manipulating you by a puppy dog face, or making themselves a victim ,,,or by sexual seduction, they are MASTERS as the game.

  • mmmm

    I just want to add one more point about their lying and the couple of people I’ve met who are in this agree:
    Specificity: Once I begin asking specific questions about the alleged lie, I get met with hostility (why so many questions) , sarcasm, re-directing the issue back to me for example “you dont always answer your phone either”…

    The problem for me was for 2 yrs, I never stood up and asked for the specificity. ONCE I DID, things began to get worse but I began to feel better. I was wimped out for the 2 yrs, “in love”, fear of losing her, fear of abandonement which she’s an expert at playing that card too…….its ONLY when I STOOD up and started demanding specificity, up to the point of writing LISTS of her lies and manipulations and demanding she read them, ONLY at that POINT I began to feel better, she got nastier>>>consistently, and of course the relationship dissolved ONLY when i stopped contact…If I had not stopped contact she’d be happy to continue lying and arguing daily.
    they’d rather have us in their life to argue with then be alone. Aruging too is a form of enabling.

  • Pez

    I can definitely see that With my XAB. I think that when they were children they got what they wanted through manipulation. and I read somewhere sociopaths are formed either in one or two ways number one being they were treated like Mama’s little king or queen and we’re enabled. the second being child abuse. both times my ex and I broke up his mother went with him dump me just like he did and supported him. this is probably a cycle from his youth. not the meaning brain damage in the later years of an alcoholic that is a fact if you look at brain scans their brains look like Swiss cheese number 1 beans they were treated like mama’s little king of queens and were enabled. The second bean cal abuse. So times max and I broke up his mother went with him don’t me just like he did and supported him. This is probably a cycle from his use. Not the meaning brain damage in the later years of the navajo lake that is a fact if you look at brain scans their brains look like swiss cheese. some even become delusional. Daniel Amens Book change your brain change your life has these images and you can also find them online.

  • Pez

    Dang this talk to text thing. my post get all jumbled up.

  • Sandy Erickson

    Well Mmmm and Pez, you both opened my eyes to a couple almost epiphany items. #1. Arguing is a form of enabling!!! This hit me like a frying pan to the head. #2. Standing up to them and questioning their lies makes it worse and them angry but DOES make me feel more in control and better about myself! Over the last 6 months I’ve been less and less putting up with the lies, questioning him when I know he is and he’s been a real asshole about it and really verbally abusive. . but I feel better knowing he knows I know his game and he can’t pull the wool over my eyes anymore!!

  • mmmm

    the most important thing i learned Sandy, that it don’t matter how they think or feel, it matters how i feel, if I feel better at this point is what counts. I sat around saying the same thing “now she knows she’s massin with the wrong guy and I’m not buying her BS”, but it means nothing, they have this built-in auto pilot to keep lying, and never stop, and eventually when we put up a brick wall of a boundary, they will “get busy with someone else” who buys their BS.
    I didnt include that I said to her “I dont believe for a minute that you’re sitting down in 110 degree weather since June, but i think asking if you saw your grandkid is a reasonable question”.

    For them nothing is reasonable, unless it fits their story of the bits and pieces of lies they tell everybody. It’s basically lose-lose but I guess i have to reality test it once in a while.

  • I got cussed out today! What did I do? Opened my mouth, asked a question, said thank you for bringing in the groceries with no response… Stood up for myself while he proceeded to cuss me in front of his friend, his friends kid and our 14 month old… I told him that he should leave and come back when he is feeling better… He told me to leave… Well, he left but I know he will be back tonight to verbally abuse me some more indirectly… I’m leaving him tomorrow! I’m in shambles this is hard and I’m in a touch predicament but I know The Lord will see me through. I’m filing my papers this week… Any advice on how I should proceed since we have a daughter? I don’t want him having any contact with me or our child right now… I also received the back pay from when I filed for social security disability for dependents for our daughter… I am her main caregiver and I have her monthly payments coming to me so I can take care of her needs without worrying about having to ask him. I am wondering if I have to tell him about this money… He will only use it to get drunk and will verbally abuse me about it. Our daughter is entitled to this benefit and so am I as her mother and caregiver. I was told by social security that it usually goes to the parent the child resides with or cares for them most. What should I do? I don’t want to tell him, but it’s his record that the benefit is drawn off of… But I don’t think that should matter… Any advice would be great!

  • Sally

    Patricia –

    You don’t have to tell him anything about the SS check. The check actually belongs to your daughter, and as you are her mother and caregiver, it goes to you for HER care. He has nothing to do with it. Make sure you have your mail and hers follow you to wherever you go, or, better yet, rent a post office box if you think you may move more than once. It saves a great deal of confusion and delay – and it’s almost impossible for anyone other than you to access the P.O. box.

    Yes, the Lord will see you through. Trust in Him and the good sense He gave you. Stay strong and don’t give an inch to the drunk in your life. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  • mmmm

    Patricia, you said you have a lawyer, I dont understand why you’re asking us legal questions. I agree with Sally but what does your lawyer say?

  • Thank you Sally…You have confirmed my thoughts exactly.

    To mmmmm…
    I had an attorney through a domestic violence agency and they only help with starting paperwork and answering questions regarding separation or divorce.. I am going to seek more counsel, but I can’t afford a lawyer to work for me so I am just trying to gather as much knowledge from as many trusted sources as I can.

  • SC

    Interesting article

    By Jim LaPierre
    Friends and family of active alcoholics ask me to explain how the alcoholic thinks. I am happy to share what I have learned after we establish what their motives are. Sadly, well intentioned folks try to protect the alcoholic from him/herself (enabling) or try to predict what they will do next (no crystal ball available). There are hundreds of wise sayings amongst alcoholics in recovery. Some are meant to make you think and some are meant to be taken very literally. Alcoholics Anonymous refers to, “the insanity of our disease.” This is a very literal statement. I can tell you a bit about understanding the active alcoholic but I cannot make it make sense to you because understanding the active alcoholic requires stripping away a lot of rational thought, the acknowledgement and willingness to learn from mistakes, the ability to recognize obvious patterns of behavior, and quite often, the application of common sense.

    There are at least a hundred forms of alcoholism. What I am describing here is the person who is still drinking, is high functioning, and has not yet lost the things they hold dear. The disease of addiction dictates that they will lose these things in time and the rule of threes dictates a grim long term prognosis (jail, institution, and/or death).

    Alcoholics think, act, believe, and feel based on distorted perceptions or themselves and the world around them. They live at the extremes of all or nothing. There is no moderation, no middle ground, no compromise, and no gray area in their worldview. To varying degrees, alcoholics live in denial of their destructiveness (self and others) and this further distorts what they are able to make sense of.

    Alcoholics are the very best liars because they are able to use rationalization and justification to convince themselves that a lie is truth. This happens subconsciously. They are not aware that they are, if you’ll pardon the term – mind screwing themselves. Alcoholics adopt a language that facilitates lying in a way that sounds very well intentioned. Their favorite word is, “probably.” This word implies intention where in fact none exists. An alcoholic who tells you they will probably do something is highly unlikely to do it. Using words like these provides them a loop hole – an escape hatch in which no absolutes are given and no promises made. The alcoholic relies on words and phrases like: possibly, maybe, would, could, should, I’d like to, I want to, I need to. These words mean nothing. They sound good but almost always lead to disappointment. Progressively, alcoholism blurs every line and impacts every interaction, every relationship, every part of the alcoholic’s world.

    Putting blinders on a horse leaves it with no peripheral vision – such is the worldview of the alcoholic. They may attend to many things, but in order to do so they must turn their attention away from one thing and toward another. Multitasking for the alcoholic means making many messes at once. There is no balance for the active alcoholic. As one area of their life declines they will often focus their attention on it and take it to an extreme. As this happens, another part of their life declines and gradually their life becomes dictated by “firehouse management” – every course of action becomes based on the most pressing problem. This is an inevitably downward spiral, though some alcoholics manage to maintain it for a very long time.

    As alcoholics tend to drink progressively more they will generally conceal the frequency and amount they drink. They will tell you they only had three glasses of wine and this is true. What they have not told you is that each glass was a 16 ounce tumbler. It is not only the drinking that gets hidden; it is also the negative affects alcohol produces in their lives. Alcoholics develop what counselors call “an external locus of control.” Progressively, everything is someone else’s fault.
    If their job is going poorly it’s because their boss hates them. If their marriage suffers then their spouse is unreasonable. If they fail as parents they will see their children as ungrateful. Everything and everyone becomes a reason to drink. The spiraling alcoholic will often say that they don’t even want to drink but that circumstances like their horrible job/spouse/kids “force” them to.

    Alcoholics often have a bizarre sense of entitlement. They reason that having such a difficult/stressful/demanding life entitles them to act in ways that are immature, irresponsible, and selfish. To observe their behavior is to conclude a belief that the world must owe them something. The active alcoholic wallows in self pity and concludes that they are a victim of life. As they demand more from the world they expect less and less from themselves.

    The quickest route to self destruction for alcoholics are the words, “Screw it.” This is a declaration that everything is already screwed so they might as well drink. When people decide to stop drinking we encourage them to notice that “It” is actually, “Me.” This is evident in, “It’s not worth it.” On some level the alcoholic always knows the truth and they are usually working hard not to know it. They pretend and demand that those close to them buy into the fantasy that all is well. Life becomes progressively less about anything substantive and progressively more about maintaining appearances. This is well explained in Pink’s song, “Family Portrait.” “In our family portrait we look pretty happy. We look pretty normal…”

    Alcoholics are master manipulators. They may not have been con artists before they started drinking but they come to have remarkable skills. They are the folks who can sell ice to Eskimos. They will pick a fight with you because they want to leave and they will have you believing it’s your fault. They show little or no accountability. They may have had integrity before their addiction kicked in but it will be conspicuously absent from their lives as they spiral. There is often one exception to this rule for each alcoholic – one thing they do especially well and it will most generally be their sole source of self esteem. We have known a large number of alcoholics who have incredible work ethics because being a good worker is the one thing they know they’re good at…well, they will say that and drinking.

    The disease of alcoholism gradually and insidiously strips everything away from a person. We have been asked countless times whether alcoholism is truly a disease or a choice. In truth it is both. Alcoholism is unique as a disease in that it not only hides from view – it also lies to its carrier about its presence. The person who is active in addiction has a unique choice relative to all other diseases. The alcoholic can go into remission at any time and many do. We see that alcoholics will abstain from drinking for a time to prove to themselves or others that they are not addicted, only to return later with a vengeance.

    Recovery from alcoholism involves far more than sobriety. Recovery from alcoholism involves changing every part of a person’s life. The person who only stops drinking is what we refer to as a “dry drunk” meaning that they are every bit as unhealthy they have simply stopped drinking – a small percentage of folks manage this long term. In my professional opinion, real recovery is only made possible by the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are countless positive things that can be added to the program of AA and their importance cannot be overstated. Folks in recovery need the support of family and friends. Sadly, I meet too many friends and family who are unwittingly enabling (protecting an alcoholic from the natural consequences of their behavior) the alcoholic and this always results in a person staying stuck.

  • mmmm

    SC, enjoyed your post thank you.
    If i may comment on one line from your writing “every course of action becomes based on the most pressing problem”, what I’ve learned and observed from my therapist who’s been working with Alcoholics, addicts and friends of for 45 years, is that the one and only “pressing problem” is “keeping the disease alive”. Everything else in their daily habit is just a sort of passing moment on the way to getting high, wasted, drunk, or etc…….All the problems of family and friends are easily resolved (the acloholic thinks), by getting wasted.
    The dry drunk term to me can be over-used. I used to think my parents were alcoholics. I don’t anymore since having been involved with a real one and seeing this therapist 5 days a week for 19 months now, (plus another great one years ago)….Its a disease of the attitude, not of the substance, I have found too many people in alanon, labeling everybody in the life as a dry drunk. For me what I have witnessed with my alcoholic ex girlfriend (and several alcoholic men allegedly in recovery) what I’ve witness as the number 1 sign of the disease of the attitude, is the “lack of responsibility and accountablity for one’s actions”.

    for me what I mean by lack of total total responsibility, is the continued use of “blaming”, “mis-directing” and other forms of manipulation, even when they’re not drinking or drugging. Whether is be not calling me back in a reasaonble time period, not announcing breaking a plan, blaming someone else for their problems in any shape or form.
    I myself had some stupid traffic incidents this week, its very hot where i live, I was tired and fatigued, out in the sun, and had a fender bender, got a parking ticket, then today I got pulled over. I AM TOTALLY AT FAULT. Im tired, im hot, its hot, and exhausted. I assume full responsibility.

    In my unforuntate experience of trying to make friends with recoverying aloholics I met thru Alanon or even open AA, they still are stuck in the blame, they would never say “I am totally at fault” not the ones i’ve met in 800 meetings. I find them in sobriety to continue to be control freaks, often dictating what “we can and can not discuss”, and they use buzz words they learn in program to manipulate and control like “im not comfortable talking about that”, in a case where I might ask them “what happenned” in something they did that affected me.

    I have emphasized here, recovery is FOR THEM. Its not FOR US. I didnt lie, cheat, steal, obtain illegal drugs or drive drunk, or tell you i’d do one thing for you and do the opposite and screw you over. Recovery for them is to SAVE THEIR LIVES, NOT SAVE THEIR RELATIONSHIPS.

    In 800 meetings of alanon, coda, naranon, and open aa and open NA i have not seen one relationship survive, of a romantic nature between an active Alcoholic turning ot recovery or addict that had a straight boyfriend or girlfriend. Not 1. They might re-kindle their family members, but the romantic relationships, don’t survive. My therapist too in 45 yrs has not seen 1 survive.

    I wish them well in recovery, I hope they all live to 110 yrs old, but I will not suggest false hope to anybody romantically involved with an acloholic or addict, most of us go thru a period of hoping their going to go to recovery, and its rarely publicly stated that recovery is NOT FOR US, its FOR THEM to TREAT Alcoholism in AA, and EVENTUALLY become better people in several years IF and only IF they “work the program.

    Thanks for sharing and listening.

  • mmmm

    P.S i would just like to add, in the throes of my relationship with the EX GF, i had one Moron GUY friend i know since childhood who himself is , sober in recovery for 25 yrs probably, complete idiot, telling me that in 30 DAYS if she went to meetings for 30 days SHE WOULD BECOME NORMAL. that is the biggest line of crap….AS i started bouncing around hundreds of meetings I met many alcoholics who told me that is absolutely ridculous 30 days is nothing, 90 days is nothing, it takes years for the lying the manipulation to stop. YEARS. I went thru a period of ultimatuming her 90/90 or i can’t talk to u, she didnt do it, its NOT A FIX FOR THE RELATIONSHIPS. it SAVES THEIR LIVES>>>YES>>>FIRST AND FOREMOST, but years if not decades to become better people, and the romantic relationships do not survive, things don’t get better in 90 meetings, or 1 yrs, or 2 yrs for the romantic partner of the alcoholic. the alc becomes hyper focused on meetings, and STILL isnt giving you equal grounded relating we the non-alcoholic deserve, continued frustraation and relapses are extremely common. Best bet, let them get healthy on their own, we get healthy only with them out of our lives, and with less contact, maybe one day a couple years down the road, the magicallly manifest into normal happy people, they WILL TELL YOU, for sure….but in the meantime we can pursue our life and stop living with someone where we have to walk on eggshells in every conversation 24/7.
    Usually the recoverying alcoholic of addict connects with a romantic partner in recovery after the 1st years, let them fight it out hash it out, they’re not normal for at least 5 years. In Narcotics anonymous they give a “bag of marbles” at 5 yr anniversity of soberity, because they say the addict gets their “marbles back” starts acting normal, more normal at 5 YRS!!!
    Doesnt matter drugs or Alc, disease of addiction is the same.

  • K

    Having lived with an alcoholic for 30 years I can readily verify all of the above.

    Our relationship is not romantic, nor is my husband a bad person.
    He has the disease, his father, his grandfather, brother, two sisters.
    Shall we mention one daughter, the other daughter struggled and is
    not free of disease as she knows it is a daily battle. Two grand-
    daughters have the disease. No one is protected when this disease can
    capture and pull other family members into this ugly life style.
    Thank you all, this website is so supportive. It does give hope.
    Hope for people living around alcoholism. You can stay or go,
    it is also the sober persons life. Do what is best for you because
    that is what the alcoholic does for himself.

  • mmmm

    Hey K, Interesting you’re really surrounded with it, this was my only experience. My point above about romantic relationships, i mean to include people who are legally married, marriage usually originates in a romantic nature. How has your relationship with your husband been lately? I’d imagine you started off romantically, would that support what I said the romantic relationship does not survive?
    I myself have not met anybody, not 1 person in a relationship with an alcoholic who’s romantic/opposite sex/same sax/husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/living together/living apart/ partner,relationship survived. I’ve met people who take forever to leave, (leave= including get divorced, move out, break up, get lawyers, divvy up the assets, going their separate ways) but it just doesnt seem to get better, it does seem to get worse with time. I have met people who left, moved on from the alcoholic partner and got themselves happier and healthier.
    Alcohol or not, its hard enough dating as we get older, in our 50’s I think the longer people stayed involved with the alcoholic partner, the longer it took them to become mentally free enough to hang out and date a non-alcoholic person. Just only my experience.

  • I planted a voice recorder in a drawer this evening before I left for work. I want to catch his nasty foul drunk, lying mouth when I’m not around. I work a 12 hour night shift and our daughter is with her grandma so of course he is loose as a goose! When I got home at 0730am this morning after work he was up trying to make it to court(dui) but I could tell he was completely hammered. I asked him if he was home last night.. He said yes. Lie. I asked if he had just gotten home. He said no… Still a lie. The so called guy friend that he said came over for some reason was the same person calling our home phone until 1:30am… Now if this the friend that was over visiting… Why would he need to call trying to you all night!!!? I just laughed.. I have become quite the investigator… But, I owe this to codependency which isn’t good… Anyway, can’t wait to unveil the truth for myself tomorrow. I’m sure the demons are dancing in my living room right now! Lord help us all!!!

  • mmmm

    I love the voice recorder concept, i think its normal, when we’re confronted with a compulsive liar, and we don’t know whats the truth and whats not. I thought about hiring a private eye, but it’s too expensive. My head was spinning from not knowing what was a lie and what was not, until i finally came to believe everything is a lie and some form of manipulation/.

  • Pez

    Mmmmm I have met several couples who have survived alcoholism and the sobriety. a few of them are doing well but it takes time and lots of commitment from the sober partner. I have met more though sober partners that stay with her alcoholic and Enable their behavior. they either have fear of abandonment issues, low self esteem, or feel they can’t live without the financial help. I met one woman where my mouth dropped open where she justified his behavior and told him he was a good person even though he lied stole money out of her purse and did all the other things alcoholics do including cheating. but I love him thing. so it is possible to make it through and survived the alcoholic sobriety but its very rare.

  • mmmm

    hi Pez,
    interesting the only cases i’ve seen is really really old people, i mean like where the husband was the alcoholic, he’s now 75 or 80 speaking at an Open alanon meeting and his wife is there but like you point out, I submit, god knows what she went thru, during his active days and initial years of sobriety I have no way of knowing how close or happy they are. . One tidbit that impressed me and I did speak to him and this was at a point where i was trying to ultimatum my alc gf to get into recovery. The key thing I asked him, was “when you got sober did it have anything with your wife or family bugging you, pushing you, etc,,,” He said “NO”.

    That litte ingredient helped me realize again we have nothing to do with them getting sober, its up to them and its for them, my therapist explains it that its actually a final “good use” of their self centered-ness>>>for them>>>when they decide to get recovery, they’re still “all about them” for years, but it kinda/sort becomes all about the recovery.

    Sorry if im repeating myself, just with even platonic friends who are in recovery, either that I grew up with, or met thru other meetings they were attending, I find them impossible people, and in-sensitive to others, no less than my active alcoholic ex gf….I try I try, I try find a way, but i find that these platonic frienships often end up one-sided, one way street, horrible communication skills and a huge amount of all-about them which I am just sick of being around and can now choose not to be around.

    I work in an industry where there’s alot of people who are in recovery a long time, PRIOR to the relationship and my education, I thought nothing of them being recovering addicts because they didnt step on my toes. We were’nt close buddies. Now as I’m getting my life back on track, and I need their services, I’m beginning to notice some of the lack of responsible communications, which I found indicative of alcoholics drinking or sober. All about them, on their timeline, when they want, nothing mutual. I need these guys services, but time will tell if I can handle it.

    Someone wrote about codependency here which I can say I am. A characteristic of codependency is “feeling of over responsibility to others”. I have that. If someone calls me, I gotta call them back. I have not met one alc or addict drinking or sober who possess this sort of “feeling of over responsibility”. Their diseases is the antithisis of being responsible, I mean the opposite, getting recovery and then having to be responsible adults? I think its rare. I’ve not found any yet. What happens and what I’ve heard from recovering people is recovery takes the place of drinking and drugging, so instead of blowing us off or disappearing to get high, they NOW HAVE a new justification via maybe a bad sponsor “my sponsor says I dont have to return that call”,,,etc..bla bla, the responsibility factor I think is the last thing to get treated in program, #1 is Don’t drink”.

    Anyway, thanks Pez.

  • mmmm

    PS. Responsible — go to work? yes, go to doctors? yes, Responsible to family members and full accountable for the actions and behaviors? I’ve not seen it, they get a new attitude in recovery that they STILL dont have to be responsible, because it might endanger their sobriety. I’ve heard this MANY MANY TIMES….”I dont have to explain myslef, Im not comfortable with that” its MORE bla bla bla of a different variety!:))) Good for them bad for us!

  • K

    to MMMM, this experience taught me a lot.
    I did not know the strength it takes
    to either stay or go. Dating,
    at 72? Another alcoholic? I would rather
    stay home, peacefully, quietly
    work cross word puzzles. I can do that
    when he falls asleep in his chair.

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