Understanding an Alcoholics Behavior

There are so many things that contribute to how the problem drinker acts. The process of understanding some of the alcoholic’s individual behavior patterns is something that develops over time. The way I learned more about why they do certain things was by attending Al-anon meetings and reading literature associate with living with an alcoholic. Living with an active addict can be mind boggling sometimes because the chaos levels go up and down. One day things are normal and all in life is good and without any warning everything changes and the change always revolves around the alcoholic’s behavior.

In order for us to be able to deal with these sudden unexpected life altering situations, we need to have a better understanding of the alcoholic’s behavior. It will do us some good to take a look at ourselves at the same time because that’s where the keys are for overcoming the frustrations that are associated with coping with an active alcoholic.

Let’s talk about the trust factor first. In my particular situation there were some things that the alcoholic could be trusted with. At other times they could not be trusted. The problem I had was always being suspicious. That’s because the alcoholic in my life had broken my trust so many times. Much of this problem is directly related to how they have a tendency to lie often. When truth and lies bubble from the same spring the waters get murky.

As soon as an addict   awakens, all an alcoholic  can think about is where they will get the next substance from to satisfy their habit. Here’s the problem though, they are never satisfied. So, they are constantly looking for an opportunity to fulfill the longing inside to get something to drink. If they are at a child’s birthday party, they want to get a drink. When they are out to dinner, they always want to have another one. If friends who are non-drinkers invite them over, the chances are pretty good that they will not hang out for long. It will be an eat and run engagement. That’s if they decide to go at all. My point is that they will try to slip a drink in every chance they get and they are always trying to create the chances.

It’s an addiction! You will never be able to control it or them. Only they can control what is out of control by asking for help.

So, trying to understand an alcoholic’s behavior hinges upon this very thing, they cannot stop trying to plan where and when they will have their next drink. The sad thing is that they will lie and manipulate situation after situation to get the alcohol that their body and mind are craving all of the time. Unfortunately, in a sense they are married to the alcohol. In actuality, the substance that controls them has become their god.

Now that you have a better understanding of what is going on in their mind and body, may I suggest that you accept them just as they are? Understanding an alcoholic’s behavior is one thing, but grasping the truth that you need to let go of them is another. Listen; ask yourself if anything that you have tried has forced them to quit drinking alcohol. I would guess no. They are not going to change so you will have to. The idea of forcing an alcoholic to quit just doesn’t work.
Along with letting them go, get into support group meetings. This will help you to understand yourself and your behaviors much better than the alcoholics. People in these meetings know what you are going through and can help tremendously.

18 comments to Understanding an Alcoholics Behavior


    Living with an alcoholic works, and the Title Of MONEY and ABUSE sure hit home for me this Christmas. I dont Have to worry about the attitude changes everyday, or the FLIP FLOP Moods, He Stole my money order from my rent, and went and cashed it up at wal-mart for 415.00 and Spent it. Now hes living back at his house with No running water, No heat, and No toilet. Probably next to NO food. IDK If i am going to press charges or not, IF i dont he may get away with this Time and time again with Some other woman.And Children. I have to take this one day at a time, but as i realize day after day I was addicted to the alcoholic addictive “behavior” Now, I am slowly Enjoying the peace with my kids. Even though he is out there Lurking ready to strike Some how some way. He wasnt there for any of his friends OR family, Just him and his booze, now In a way i have accepted. Thats the way HE wants to live until he dies. So be it.
    I cant believe after everything I have done for him, he would stoop so low as to take my money for OUR Home and go have a couple of big nights and drink it all away. NO CONCIENCE what so ever. but I can do something about it this time. No one else. Should I or Shouldnt I?

  • Jackie

    May I suggest not making any major decisions in anger. It’s good to set boundaries and not be an enabler. Learning how to do this in a loving way is tough and takes time.

    We need to be connected with people who know how to deal with these difficult situations.

    There’s a great saying that goes like this; “say what you mean but don’t say it mean.”

    The way I learned to set boundaries and to be more understanding of the alcoholic’s illness was by attending support group meetings.

  • My girlfriend is a thirteen years sober recovering alcoholic. We have been together for 8 months, and never had a cross word and then suddenly all hell lets loose, because I became a bit merry at a dance. I couldn’t believe how angry she had become, because of my behaviour. I enjoy a drink, and my girlfriend has indeed encouraged me to drink and not worry about her, but I found myself being “brow beaten”, because I was drinking too fast etc. I had only had 4 pints of Grolsch Lager/Beer. She totally ruined, what was otherwise a fun night and chose not to stay with me after we had returned home, which involved her getting all her things and storming off in a temper. etc. etc.

    This was just over a week ago. She calmed down after a few days and is friendly again, but still blames me, because I answered her back. I am now wondering, when will this happen next.

  • Raymond the best thing you can do is to learn that communicating with an intoxicated person is like eating jelly (Jello) with chopsticks. Its irritating and pointless. The convos go nowhere.
    I dont react to the alcoholics behavior. If i did the following will occur. An argument occurs, this is then used as an excuse to drink and then the blame is passed onto you. If you dont react, there is no excuse or blaming thrown at you. I would recommend you seek out an Al-Anon meeting. To gain support on a face 2 face bases. Good luck

  • The person I am dealing with is not intoxicated, but 13 years sober, however desires, fears and cravings still exist.

    Cheers !! Ray.

  • SJC

    Raymond, is the a personality still alive and well? Blaming, criticizing and insults.

  • SJC

    Just read you post. She has not blamed ect… for the past 13 years. Just wondering if they quit, thing really change?

  • SJC

    Sorry again Raymond…I’m a little slow tonight. lol You have been together 8 months…not trying to be a downer but the new in the relationship may be wearing off and Hyde comes out. I was with my xah (very high function alcoholic) 19 months b4 we lived together, after I moved in things stated to slowly change. Easier said than done but you might want to run for your life. No good can from being with an a or an recovering a in my past experience. My father was sober 19 years b4 he died and still acted out. It was not daily, weekly or monthly but I knew even as a kid that he would act out again. I will never get involved with an a or a recovering a…they hurt people with meanness and they can not be reasoned with. I’m just saying….

  • In my experience with alcoholism is a person gets sober but the behavior still stays thus is dry drunk. AA can help but your loved one has to want to go. Alcoholism, the drinking is not the only issue its also the behavior. If someone gains sobriety without support the behavior still remains. Both require to be worked on together.

  • Jill

    My boyfriend has been in the AA program since Sept. 2014. I was relieve when he decided to go to meetings, then get a sponsor. I had hope that things were going to finally ease up and be better. Life has turned upside down and now Im the recipient of blame, accusations, emotional abuse. Jeckle n Hyde behavior. I’m just dumbfounded by how everything seems really good and within a blink of an eye Im blindsided with a behavior that cuts me off at the knees. I say Im hurt. Then he says “whats the big deal. ” “I didnt know I was hurting you.” Your making this bigger then it is”. He tells me how Im feeling or does not hear what I am trying to convey. It’s maddening. it pushes me away from him. Is this tsunami of rotten behavior Im seeing now due to unearthing his issue while working the steps… taking inventory?? I feel like Im getting the outpouring of blame and resentment that has accumulated over his lifetime. And because Im the only one standing there; I get dumped with it! Its too much crazymaking for my brain to take. He is so sweet and loving for a couple of days and then all I do is say one thing and bam… he’s indignant, pushy and covertly mean. I feel like Im going crazy at these times. How do I lose ME so quickly?
    I have found I don’t have the skills to stay grounded when he turns the situation back on me. I basically come undone. A defenseless child. I almost think he likes to see me this way.
    Where do I go from here? We have so much potential but this new behavior is killing me. I’m starting to think things aren’t going to get better. I blame myself because it was me who introduced him to AA.

  • SJC

    Jill, did he blame and criticized when he was drinking and did he also do it before he went to AA? what he’s not getting about taking inventory is…it’s supposed to be about him taking inventory on his self and not you. alcoholics don’t want to look at themselves, its like they never factor their self into any situation, its always the other person. I’ve read that counselors at work with alcoholics say they had this problem it’s considered a external focus of control.
    I understand losing yourself. that’s exactly what happened to me with my ex alcoholic husband. I had always felt attractive independent and somehow I lost them. I’ve been divorced for 3 years and I’m still struggling with the emotional and verbal abuse. it’s sad what these people do to you. I had a friend that says Alcoholics kill everything around them. I wish you the best take care of yourself.

  • SJC

    Sorry for all the wrong wording. I need to reread what I write before I hit send.. LOL

  • You can go to Al-Anon. Learning tools to help you. In one of these threads you can find a link to my facebook group where i support people just like you and me. I cant post the link as its unfair to the owner of this site. Otherwise on this site there is a piece in detaching with love. Good tool to use. Also boundary setting, theres info on blaming. This site is very useful in itself if people just took the time to read all the info. Its a great insight. You may also want to look at codependency.

  • Jill

    Thank you! I have been attending Al-anon and I believe Im still somewhat sane because of the program and the group wisdom. This site has also been a God send to me. It just helps hearing from other ppl in similar situations validating that Im not insane. Seems like we’re dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t with the alcoholic.

  • You are sane. I completely understand the whole crazy thinking. As everything is always pushed on us we begin to believe it. Its not true though. We are not the crazy ones. Hugs. One day at a time Jill <3

  • Jill

    One day at a
    time!! :)

  • Jill

    Omg help, The insanity of this disease it taking me over and I dont even know how. My brain shuts down. I forget whats important in my life. I was so upset yesterday that when I got home I shut myself off and watched alanon videos on youtube to find some relief.
    I completely forgot a huge meeting I co-chair. How could I be so focused n clear last week and over one rotten behavior of the alcoholic Im brainless. Im scared of what this is doing to me. Can anyone give me guidance?

  • Jill your welcome to look for me on facebook. Laurie Dimmock youngish looking pic female, white,with white top, hair is up, quite a stern face.. lol it was a bad day. I cant put a link unfortunately but i could help with someone to talk to instead of coming here. It kinda sucks that theres no message facility.

Leave a Reply