How to Love an Alcoholic Unconditionally

Trapped In Love Yes, it is possible to love an alcoholic with an undying love, unconditionally. To accept a problem drinker’s behavior is not what this article is about. Learning to take care of ourselves is the beginning of being able to express compassion toward the person suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Having compassion and loving someone who drinks all the time does not mean that we must accept unacceptable behavior from an alcoholic. What it does mean is that we must learn how to live life differently than we have been.

To have unconditional love for an addict means that we accept them as they are but we do not allow them to treat us or our family with disrespect. The only way to accept them just as they are is by realizing that they are suffering from a horrible disease called alcoholism. You wouldn’t hate a friend who had cancer would you, or some other type of terminal illness? Of course you wouldn’t, you would care for them and express great amounts of unconditional love toward them.

Woman In Love ReflectingSo, then why do we have such a tendency to not like the alcoholic in our lives? If you can come to grips with the fact that alcoholism is a disease, then and only then will you be able to express unconditional love to the person who drinks too much in your life. Understand this point… they do not want to be the way that they are. They struggle with the horrible addiction day in and day out. Even though they deny having a problem, deep down inside they know that they are drinking too much.

It’s going to take a lot of work on your part to re-spark the great love that you once had, but it can be done. If you would just take a moment right now to look in the phone book for help or even on the Internet, by doing a search using your city location, you could find an Al-anon meeting near you. There are millions of testimonials about the Al-anon program spread throughout the world.

The first step to loving an alcoholic unconditionally is getting involved in support group meetings with people who understand what it is that you are going through.

You are going to need to learn how to love yourself again. That thought sounds strange doesn’t it? There is great truth in that statement though because living with an alcoholic wears us down. They are constantly belittling us and making us feel worthless. Once we discover our value again, then we can begin to love the alcoholic in our life without conditions.


You are suffering from many things that have affected you in relation to living with active alcoholism. In order to love the alcoholic in a manner that is expressed unconditionally, you are going to need to learn how to stop arguing, how to protect your emotions and how to let go of the alcoholic and start living your own life. This doesn’t mean that you leave them or live without them. It just means that you can begin to live a wonderful life even though their behavior is constantly awful. You don’t have to be affected by everything that they do and it is possible to focus on other things than their drinking problem.

Now, get to work and find help in your area. Pick up the phone and dial that number. I promise you that you are not alone. Many people are dealing with the same pain that you are. They too are feeling lonely and frustrated. Those folks can also teach you how to love yourself again and how to love the alcoholic in your life unconditionally.


15 comments to How to Love an Alcoholic Unconditionally

  • Pez

    Are you Kidding me! NO we would not reject our loved one who has cancer or some other terminal disease. But they wouldn’t treat us like shit now would they! This is comparing apples to oranges. There is a disease aspect to alcoholism in the later stages, but the truth is it’s an addiction and they have the choice to quit if they get out of there denial of the hurt and pain they cause others & there desire to live like a child for the rest of there lives and grow up!. Personally, I don’t think it’s all “they don’t want to be that way” IN FACT I think some of them enjoy it!! They don’t want to grow up, take responsibility, the men enjoy treating women like shit and using them and throwing them away–Just like they did in there teens and 20’s–What great memories and fun for them in a way. After all my love for so many years when my XAB jumped to a low life Whore (no exaduration here it’s on her record) He MOCKED ME, LAUGHED AT ME, wrapped T-Paper around my bushes at work and his x wifes’ house. This is childish to the max. Chasing the dragon, Party Hardy, live like a teenager forever!
    With all this said, Why the He-double toothpick would I want to have undying, unconditional love to someone who treats me badly, is abusive in almost every way, WHY! Nobody deserves that. Nobody. If you are being abused in ANY WAY (No abuse is acceptable) dump the arrogant Alcoholic and do better for yourself. Pray for them if you are able. Maybe one day they will “Get It” that the teen years are over and then they can move on to a healthy relationship if done right.

  • Gabby

    I agree with Pez’s comment. If the A in your life is not abusive then it’s okay to show unconditional love and pray for them to recover but alot of us put up with horrible things being done to us. Who in their right mind would tell you to try and show love to someone who in my case was trying to hurt me, shove me, knock me down and when confronted with the behavior and the bruises he caused can show no remorse & yet I am supposed to love someone like that–yes, if I did that I would not be typing this right now–I surely would be dead if I had not left–where is the unconditional love for us the victims? When will someone show me that kind of love? I guess never because why? You have to be an alcoholic or a cheater, or a liar, or a rapist in this world to get unconditional love–something is wrong with this thinking.

  • Julie

    Amen, Pez and Gabby. I could never buy in to the unconditional love thing either for an alcoholic who enjoyed treating me like shit. When I turned the other cheek he just got worse. He was “stuck” in immature, childish behavior while I grew up and matured. We were not on the same wave length. I am happily, although slowly, recovering my self-respect, sanity and self-esteem since divorcing him 2 years ago. I no longer have to live with my guard up, not knowing what he was going to do next. If he self destructs, he now does it without me and I’m not there to pick up the pieces and clean up the mess. I’m living for “me” for the first time in my life. And you know what, I no longer feel guilty for divorcing someone with a “disease.” Unconditional love did not work for me.

  • Pez

    I agree. when I did unconditional love I was abused all the more because
    he saw it as a weakness to be exploited by him. I had to be careful
    what I even spoke to him cause he would use it to his advantage to hurt, control, or manipulate! Totally sociopathic.

  • L.

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post; one of the best I have read on this site. A few of my qualifiers could have been poster children for this dis-ease and I entered my own Recovery with more than a little anger and resentment toward them. Recovery for ourselves and unconditional love, support and encouragement for the alcoholic IS possible! Al-Anon taught ME so much including healthy and appropriate boundaries, keeping the focus, (one day at a time), on myself and NOT on what the alcoholic is or is not doing, DETACHMENT with LOVE if possible, with a frying pan if necessary :-) … and so much more … For your own serenity and sanity it is worth the effort to become familiar with the Steps, Slogans, Literature, and Meetings, of this lifesaving program … I am a grateful member of Al-Anon …

  • L.

    … ARE possible!” :-)

  • Mike

    Unconditional love? No way.
    That just means to accept an alcoholic’s BS.
    Alcoholics love to talk about unconditional love.
    It’s their crutch.
    There are conditions. Love me more than alcohol.
    Sorry, it ain’t a disease, it’s an addiction.
    If alcoholism is a disease, than lying is a disease too.

  • Pez

    I agree mike. Yes, we should be a happy and whole person within outselves, BUT we get into relationships so we have at least some if not a lot of degree of reciprocation! This is a healthy relationship with a friend or a lover. Would you choose a friend who would never give, only take? and on top of that cause you pain. No, that is not a friendship unless your sick. Even more this should not be in a romantic realationship, this is dysfunctional (not a normal healthy one). Why would you sacrifice your life for someone who is nasty, cheating, liar, a mess and a drug addict. Why!? Love? Love is not enough for a lifetime of self denial of emotional needs going unmet. Love yourself more. Unconditional love is enabling to the alcoholic. Love yes, but not unconditional. If you set boundries, that is not unconditional–boundries are conditions!

  • PM

    I totally agree with the artical.You can’t do it out of your own humaness but from a greater power with-in you. I have been married to an A for 37 years. It wasn’t until I took the log out of my eye that I was able to truly love him. It isn’t the way we are raise but it is the way God has ask us to live–not abuse but to love unconditionally as He loves us. The pain I see in the comments are very sad and I know they are true. I just hope for healing for your hearts and to trust the Lord for peace and direction.

  • ALCOHOLISM IS A DISEASE OF THE MIND. IT IS A MENTAL DISEASE. YOU ARE BORN WITH IT. IT IS A GENERATIONAL DISEASE. LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER TO THE ALCOHOLIC AND THEIR FAMIIES. HAVING COMPASSION EMPATHY AND CARE FOR A SUFFERING ALCOHOLIC. UNDERNEATH THE ANGER IS PAIN AND MOST ALCOHOLICS CAN NOT GIVE OR RECIEVE LOVE. THEY CAN NOT FEEL THEIR FEELINGS. FEAR.RESENTMENT,AND JUDGEMENT ARE TO NAME A FEW OF WHAT AN ALCOHOLIC SUFFERS FROM. THEIR THOUGHTS CONTROL THEM, CONTROL IS ANOTHER CHARACTER DEFECT, WHEN THEIR THOUGHTS CONTROL THEM THATS WHEN THEY BECOME CONTROLLING. WITH MY HUSBAND I NEEDED TO SET BOUNDRIES, HE HAS HELPED ME SEE WHO I WAS, I NEEDED TO STOP BEING A VICTIM AND START LOOKING AT WHY I LET HIM TREAT ME THAT WAY I NEEDED TO STOP FOCUSSING ON HIM AND START LOVING MYSELF. IN THIS I FOUND THE GREATEST GIFT ME THANKS TO MY HUSBAND I RESPECT HIM AND LOVE HIM UNCONDITIONALLY. TRUE LOVE EMERGED FROM THE DEPTH OF MY DESPAIR. I NO LONGER WAIT FOR HIM TO LOVE ME. I JUST LOVE ASKING NOTHING IN RETURN, THAT IS FREEDOM…..

  • Stephanie

    Julie that’s powerful. How did you do that? I’ve been with my Husband for 10 years and pray everyday for the answer. He rarely gets nasty unless I try to control the situation. I’m learning after all these years to pick my battles but it’s tough. Some days I wonder if it would just be easier to leave….

  • tennisgirl

    I have been dealing with it for 26 years and three dui’s. I can’t do it any more.

  • Monica

    Well, I have just started dating an alocholic. I did not know he had a problem until we started living together – I found beer cans everywhere all the time. I wondered why he was so Jealous, and wanting me always to be around him and he would not let me go anywhere with out him, I thought it was just because he was just being a boyfreind. So now that we are in deep and I fell in love with him.
    Wow, I said how did I not see him drinking that much.
    He started to be mean and ugly. He kept sayong things like I am not a good person, I am a bad father, I was a bad husband, . Then I started to understand that he needed to be loved because I told him you are not those things you matter to me, and God. And let me just tell you that his son’s are awesome kids, one is married and in the Army the other is in High school in honors. I told him that a son is a reflection of what his father is. He kept saying that he was horrible father and horrible person, his ex wife used to tell him how worthless and he was nothing yelled at him about everything even after they were divorced he kept hearing her mouth, I know because when we started dating she would call and yell – calling him a dead beat dad, just all the horible things you could think of and he would just be quiet. Until finally she knew that I started dating him he was called him everything but his first name she even had her family, his kids and part of his against him. He hurt so much. I did not see what his ex saw. Even though he could be mean and sometimes he just makes me want to run for the hills, I love the guy. I show him love and he responds to it by trying to be better. Once I have to admitt I did come to a point where I was just exhausted and could not take anymore of his abuse his words were just draining me, hurting me and just could not go on with him any more – I wanted to just leave him, I told him… Let me go please. He held me so tight that night, and would not let me go. He kept saying that ‘I can’t do that’, I can’t do that’ we fell asleep this way, and I can honestly say he has been better and he has talked through things with me. I cook and clean and show him love. Believe it or not it has been working. Sometimes he will slip and say mean things that hurt me so much. I stop him and say hey, do you hear yourself? He still drinks a case of beer a day at least that is the cans I see.
    He appriciates that I love him just the way he is and he appriciates that I still have not given up on him when everyone else has. I know that many of you have suffered so much I understand. But from what I am going through right this moment in time – He needs to be loved.

  • SJC

    Monica, I don’t want to be negative but it will never be enough. You will cook, clean,
    love him and at some point you will wonder why you are not getting this in return. One day you will have an ah ha moment of why he said he was not a good father, good person…their is a reason why his x says the same thing too.
    Think about it a case of beer a day…who does that, someone with a big problem. Read what alcoholic does to the frontal lobe of the brain.
    I understand you want things to work out, I did the same thing and still to this day I wish things would worked out with my xah. The things he said to me, did take a toll on me.
    I still feel like I’m not good enough and now it’s on me to change that.
    I do wish you luck
    but I believe no good can come from being with an alcoholic.

    Anytime they prove they are not safe to love, we have the unfinished business of loving them anyway. –Bishop T.D. Jakes

  • SJC

    I said their is a reason his x says the things she does. I say this because my xah was a high functioning alcholic, I could never tell he was drunk. His sister made comments when I first met him that she worried about his drinking etc… I thought, maybe she is a Tee-Total-er
    because I did not see him as having a problem.
    Now I know what all the comments were.
    She also said his xwife left because he was so controlling and I thought I don’t see that at all. Well as time went on I began understanding what she meant by that. Their are all different kinds of controlling, it does not have to be the traditional kind.
    I had a father has a dry drunk ( I was his scapegoat) and an xah has a high functioning
    and they both acted the same.

Leave a Reply