Understanding an Alcoholics Mind


When you are coping with active alcoholism it’s only natural to want to have a better understanding of how an alcoholic’s mind works. Because their behavior is so bizarre and an addicts thinking is dysfunctional, for some reason we expect them to act like normal human beings. Whatever that means, I am still trying to figure that one out.

If you want to have a better understanding of what an alcoholic thinks about or how their mind works I highly suggest that you attend an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting. I’m not really sure how to define exactly how the thinking process of a problem drinker works, but I can clue you in on a few things.

Here are a few things that I do understand:

  1. An alcoholics thoughts will convince them to always tell you what they think you want to hear.
  2. Very rarely will they ever admit to telling exactly how much they’ve had to drink. Depending upon who they are with, they will tell one person they only had three and to a drinking buddy it was entire case. By experience, I know that they hardly ever can keep track of this sort of thing.
  3. The road they are on is always paved with good intentions, but never leads to actually carrying them out. For instance, the active alcoholic in my life would always say that they were just going down the street to their friend’s house for a couple of hours and two days later they would make it home. I truly believe that somewhere inside that sick mind they really wanted to come home in a couple of hours. It’s just that the allurement of having an open bar down the street is an appealing proposition when you are not allowed to keep any alcoholic beverages at home.
  4. Before they take that drink, their mind will tell them that they have the will power to stop after just having one or two.
  5. Another thing is that if they get violent when the drink liquor, their rational thinking, which says don’t drink it, is not backed with enough will power to actually stop them from having the drink when it is available.

Distorted Alcoholic MindThe behavior patterns that accompany an alcoholic are very complex and difficult to understand. That’s why all of the support groups I’ve been involved with teach the technique of just letting go of the problem drinker. Understanding how an alcoholic thinks is not going to make them stop drinking or even allow you any more control over the situation than you currently have.

Knowing why a problem drinker does what they do is near impossible. The AA program will be the first to teach you that alcohol is cunning, baffling and powerful. It’s the baffling part that fits perfect with trying to understand what an alcoholic is thinking.

Rather than trying to get a grasp on what their thoughts are, it would be better to understand your own thinking. This is why attending fellowship support group meetings for friends and family members of alcoholics will help you with. When we get an understanding of the fact that the only thinking that we have any control over or can even begin to try to understand is our own, then we can start changing. Trust me; the alcoholic in your life is not going to change until they get into recovery. Your best bet is to forget about trying to always figure out what the heck they are thinking and why because it’s just insanity anyway. Don’t expect them to be able to explain it to you because they haven’t a clue either as to why their mind works the way that it does.


115 comments to Understanding an Alcoholic’s Mind

  • Laura

    Debbi,Thank you for your encouraging words, It took a lot of courage and strength to finally do it,but I just couldn’t exists like that anymore to much heartache and anguish. I was waiting for him to hit his rock bottom but I guess I hit mine first. I didn’t want to go down with the ship so I JUMPED! The unknown is always scary but I am making it, not letting the guilt get to me and when it does I just remember all those sleepless nights and the time when he almost burned the house down by lighting a cigarette on the stove and not realizing there was a pizza box on top of the burner because he was so intoxicated to realize it and when we could of died because he left the gas running all night because he used the stove again to light his cigarette. The time he got my car impounded because he decided he was going to buy more booze and didn’t care if he killed anyone on the road. I could go on and on with my chaotic life but I think I rather just be in the present enjoying my tranquility and my Grandson. Hugs to you and everyone on this site struggling with a loved one with this horrific thing called alcoholism.

  • Pez

    Laura said, ” I was waiting for him to hit his rock bottom but I guess I hit mine first.” !!!!

    Sometimes just one liners hit the nail on the head and say everything! Stay strong Ladies (and gentlemen) It’s worth the fight for our freedom from: Abuse (verbal, emotional, physical, & spiritual), crazy makers, insanity, false hopes, lack of love and respect, lies, usury, the games, the hurt and pain etc…… !! Amen.

    The best revenge is a happy life! Work towards your own happiness, “One Day At A Time”. WE WIN!

  • Debbi

    Laura & Pez:
    Absolutely what Laura said–great one liner!

    I was waiting for him to hit his rock bottom but I guess I hit mine first !!!!

    But I’m not an A and boy my rock bottom seems a lot worse than his! I’m the one going through all the problems–Hope I find my complete peace like you two!

  • Pez

    Not complete piece yet Debbie. Getting better one day at a time but not there yet.

  • Laura

    Debbi, I think our rock bottoms are a lot worse then there’s we are sober enduring it all while they are self medicated not knowing or caring the damage they are doing to all those around them. When you hit your rock bottom you will be able to walk away. That is when I walked away from it all. I pray that you will find peace.

  • Debbi

    Laura:
    I wish I had made the choice to walk away–he forced it on me. I knew in my heart that I would not walk until the final betrayal–infidelity. I think he knew this & purposely on Valentine’s Day one year hired escort service and put it on the credit card for me to see. So it was time to file for divorce. I should not have waited so long until the final vow was broken–I should have left with the very first lie! Now I know my rock bottom with everyone these days is–first time you get nasty with me and don’t apologize–I’m outta here or the first time I catch you in a lie–I’m outta here!

  • Pez

    It does change your view on the future now doesn’t it! I feel the same way. we learn wisdom now don’t we. This is our part in it all. Trust is earned not just given! I have learned my lesson.

  • linda

    Can’t live like this. I can totally relate to all these post. This a is making me sicker n sicker. O the lies. Have to get off this circle of denial. Can’t talk to him anymore..just acts like definite child. Pushing me to end the marriage.

  • linda

    Does recovery give the a sense of entitlement to whatever they want. Arguing over everything.nothing is safe to talk about.or is it they have a great need to control?

  • Amy

    Laura,know what I did that really seems to help me ~I wrote down all the terrible things he did and said, I wrote down the way we were living~ (complete chaos)I did this to keep me in reality. We sometimes have a tendancy to remember the good times (few and far between) and push the bad times aside in our memory. I didn’t think I would do this, but I find myself doing it alot more than I wish to admit.take care~

  • Paula Reynoso

    I agree that while we are worried and living an endless array of neglect and verbal manipulation and/or abuse, they are self-medicating and literally “out of it”. We therefore feel while they are for all intents and purposes “under anesthesia”. This is a complete waste of our worries, time, and lives because they don’t even care if we are alive.

    After wasting enough time with no results, the only answer is to leave them to their fate and pray and hope that something bad will happen short of death to “wake them up”.

    The truth is that they are permanently brain damaged and even if they ever recover, one sip of alcohol and we will be in the same hell again. This is just not worth it. This is such a horrible and risky way to live.

    Once I was sure in my mind that he was an alcoholic, I knew I could never feel safe emotionally with him again, even if he ever got treatment which he hasnt and wont according to him.

    I am just waiting to hear that he died of some alcohol related medical problem. He is 68 years old. What else can I realistically expect ?

    I loved this man with all my heart and he made me very, very happy. He threw his career away, me away, and sidewiped his children and grandchildren by spending “minimal” time with them.

    The brain really does control behavior and their brains are very, very diseased. Like I said to him repeatedly, “I don’t recognize you anymore”. Alcoholism changes their personalities and the longer they drink, the farther away they go. I know I will never see him or speak to him again. He has turned the tables, blamed me for everything, and given me the permanent silent treatment ……. and continues to drink religiously.

    The truth is that the only semblance of a normal life is away from them. This is absolutely essential to protect ourselves from their disease and if they choose to drink themselves to death, then we will just have to live with their extremely poor judgment. All the begging, pleading, talking, threatening, its all just an utter waste of time.

    If they cant muster the strength to do the right thing, them karma will bite them in the butt.

    I pray that God will hold him and love him after he drinks himself to death.

  • Linda

    To all, look up love bombing. That’s what my a does to me….show s up at work I love you so much, then behind close door its the silent treatment or smart n smug…..can’t take this jecal Hyde shit……need to stay away….

  • Yvette

    Hi Every one,

    I am encouraged to read your messages. I have been dating an alcoholic for a year now. I didn’t perceive it as such when we began dating. As time has passed i realize this man desires to drink everyday rather than feed himself. The reality is he lies all the time in which I despise, cheats, steals and just manipulative. I have grown so tired of the days of absences, clubbing every weekend. The weird thing is that he is a functional alcoholic and can’t wait to get off work for the next drink. In the beginning I would have a drink with him and I didn’t drink much at all! Then I realize I was enabling him. As I stopped drinking and no longer wanted to go out to bars, he start going alone rather then being with me. So I let him spread his wings and I soared. In conclusion I’ve decided to end it once and for all. I can no longer except the mental and verbal abuse, its tiring. I love him but I love me more.

  • Pez

    Great for you Yvette!! It took me 5 years you reached it in one!!! Stay away, stay far away and move on. Soooo happy our experience helped you!!

  • SC

    Good for you. No more wasted time.

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