How to Not Respond to An Alcoholic


I thought I would never be able to stop responding to the troublesome things that the alcoholic in my life would direct toward me. I learned how to not respond by attending Al-anon meetings and through praying for help. I’ll never forget how hard it was to relinquish the old behavior patterns. They say that habits can be broken in twenty one days. It seemed like twenty one years had past before I was able to gain self control over the things I was doing that were just adding fuel to the raging fire. Finally… I realized that God began to do for me what I could not do myself.

Here are some suggestions as to how you can have more self control…

There are three things that we will need to begin to understand:

1) Awareness
2) Acceptance
3) Action

Awareness: If we can start noticing when the alcoholic is pushing buttons that disturb our emotions, we can move onto the next step. Every time the problem drinker in our family did things to make me mad, I was so clueless as to the merry-go-round that I would get on. Some of the things I became aware of were name-calling, and how the alcoholic uses anger and anxiety. Once I started identifying the things that were affecting my peace and serenity, in the presence of the family alcoholic, I was able to change some things. The first step prior to making the changes was accepting my faults.

Couple TalkingAcceptance: Once I was able to identify the situations where I was responding in really negative ways, I had to accept these character defects that had come to the surface of my understanding. This is the place where I set a conscious goal to do things differently and continued to learn what those things were through attending support group meetings.

Action: Here’s where we begin to respond to the alcoholic’s button pushing in a totally different manner. Please understand that progress is the idea here, not perfection. This type of personality change on our part takes time.

Ideas that will help you not respond negatively to an alcoholic’s behaviors
:

1) Once you recognize that your peace is being effected, make a decision to not argue. Remember it takes two people to fight. If you refuse to respond in a negative way then there’s really not much to be argued about with an alcoholic.

2) Learn to say things like; “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “That’s not true.” These short, but simple statements can save you from the old patterns of responding to everything that is thrown in your face in negative ways.

3) Before saying anything, ask yourself these three questions. Is what I have to say kind-is it necessary or is it true? This video is a great: Communicating With An Alcoholic

Patient WomanLearning how to not respond to an alcoholics constant ridicule or anger is going to be a tough job with out help. Please consider finding a support group meeting designed for family or friends of alcoholics. At first this may be a little embarrassing for you to deal with, but as you attend more meetings you will begin to learn how to respond differently to the problem drinkers actions that you are constantly dealing with.


19 comments to How to Not Respond to An Alcoholic

  • Bruce

    JC I woke up today refreshed! I have been following the above steps on How to Not Respond to an alcoholic. I evicted the alcoholic in my head. And I removed the buttons she would push. I do hope she overcomes her addictions. But I will never know. Because I won’t be there to find out. She is now on her own to solve her problems. The one thing that worked for me was telling her I’m sorry you feel that way. That one stopped her dead in her tracks. Thank you JC and everyone else on this site. Bruce

  • Elisabeth

    Is this advice only for when they are drunk or all the time? The merry go round seems to be a constant, when we are arguing over our relationship. We are currently in the process of breaking up, so there is a lot of that. However, we only talk when he’s sober and it’s still all about him deflecting responsibility for why it’s ended on me and the constant lies, which oftentimes change right in the middle of the conversation, as if he didn’t remember the first one he just told me. Of course, that’s because I am the kind of person who calls him on all that. Anyway – should it always be this way? Should I just let things end with “I’m sorry you feel that way?” I’m ready to do whatever anyone here recommends so I can find my own peace of mind. Please help.

  • Sandi

    Alcoholics even when “sober” are in denial. Unless they reach a point of admitting they have a problem to themselves and others, they cover, lie, and deny….anything to protect their alcoholic behavior. My husband is active in his addiction and frankly I don’t believe anything he says, ever. It is a miserable way to live, but I do it. I just hope and pray some day he wakes up before it is too late. We’ve been married so long and have so much mutual property, if would be almost impossible to divorce him without losting part of my retirement, which I am not willing to share with a drunk that would just blow what I have worked for. If you aren’t totally invested I would say leave now and never look back.

  • Elisabeth

    Thank you, Sandi. It feels better to know I’m not alone and I’m not crazy. He lies constantly and it’s hard for me to not call him on those lies. I will work on pulling back and not react anymore. I am sorry for the position you are in. You don’t deserve to live a miserable life. And neither do I.

    In any case, he has already decided to leave me. After years of financially supporting him, he got a job and met someone (younger) he has a crush on and “who doesn’t judge him” (because she doesn’t know him yet!) and told me he’s moving out, so I don’t really have a choice in the matter, anyway. I know this is probably the best thing for me, but it doesn’t make it less painful.

  • Sandi

    Elisabeth, you are neither alone or crazy. Let him go, wish him well, and change your locks and number. His “crush” will soon see what you have been dealing with. I will pray for you and pray your healing from this comes swiftly.

  • Bruce

    Elisabeth, you will be better off alone. It will take time to recover. But you must put yourself first. If you stay with him he will do whatever takes to keep you under his thumb. Make your break as soon as you can. I didn’t do that. Big mistake on my part. But once I found this site and read about other peoples problems I was able to figure out what to do. Keep your wits about you and you will come out ahead. We are here. Just keep reading what other people have wrote. And learn! Don’t hang on to what he says. He just wants to bring you down to his level. I will pray for you.

  • Elisabeth

    Thank you Sandi and Bruce. I am taking your advice and kind words to heart.

  • Bruce

    Elisabeth Are you overcoming your problems? I’m doing better with mine. Everyday I become stronger.

  • Sandi

    Glad to hear you are doing well Bruce! I really blew it over the weekend with my AH. He came in very late Friday night, and I really laid into him Saturday. Didn’t follow my own plan!

  • Bruce

    Sandi you have to stay calm from here on out.

  • Elisabeth

    Hi Bruce – So glad to hear you are doing well! Yes, I am getting better. As of yesterday, I really started to feel stronger and am continuing to keep busy and enjoy my friends and family and hobbies. I hope this feeling will continue. I think a lot of it, for me, has been because Sunday night it was made very clear to me that our relationship is definitely, absolutely over. That knowledge kind of freed me from obsessing over him the way I’ve been up until now. And of course, I still check up on this website, because I derive even more strength from it. Thank you for checking in.

  • Elisabeth

    As far as I’m concerned (at least right now), he is no longer my problem.

  • Debbi

    Elisabeth-We will have to compare notes–My AH is gone & we are now divorced and as Sandi said the next person in their life will soon see them for what they are. That’s what I’m waiting for–Let me know when you hear that about yours. Glad you looking at it at “he is no longer my problem” & I hope I get to the same point you are at. The reality of divorce though is hitting me now hard & I pray what I’m going through does come onto you. Keep us posted.

  • Elisabeth

    Definitely, Debbi. Let’s keep in touch. How long were you guys married for? We were together for 15, living together for about 7 and no kids. Also, I was never good at loving the A unconditionally, so maybe that’s helping me now. I held a part of me back, now that I look back. From the get-go, I was uncomfortable about his drinking and although I didn’t realize he was an A, I knew it was wrong and it was always an issue for us.

  • Elisabeth

    I will pray for you, Debbi.

  • Debbi

    Elisabeth:
    Me–married almost 16 years, 2nd marriage for both. I put my whole heart & soul into this marriage & now finding he lied about every little thing from the beginning. When confronted with my illness then the “you know what–hit the you know” and I found out about most all of it (escorts, affairs, etc) but never saw him drunk. So baffling don’t know what I’m dealing with.

    Today’s saga–I”ve been declared legally deceased by him. He’s calling all my banks & what not & telling them I’m deceased & these idiots belive him. So another day yesterday spent at the police department & prosecurtor’s office & being told again there’s nothing they can do so I sink yet again deeper into my hole and avoid the world.

    I hope none of you have to experience the torment this man is still putting me through on top of my health problems–the man is evil and inhumane!

  • Bruce

    Debbi have you been able to speak to a lawyer about the problems he is causing you? How is he able to do what he is doing without a death certificate. I think you have a possible law suit with the banks. Stay strong.

  • Debbi

    Bruce: Thanks for the advice but My attorney through my divorce never believed me when I told her about his illegal activities & now she is out of the picture.

    Police Department said these companies are allowed to put my accounts on hold as a precaution until I prove I’m alive. I am doing that with the written confirmation from the police department. The prosecutor’s office said the only thing I have against him doing this is if he removes money from these 2 accounts then I might have a civil lawsuit but in no way is this illegal–believe it. I finally said to the prosecutor “does this hold true if I would do this to him?” Bet they wouldn’t let a woman get away with this. All through the abuse the cops saw me as the “emotional upset woman” because I had no proof.

    I’m this close to having a “calling party” tonight & start calling his banks & credit card companies and report him as dead–maybe I’ll even embellish a little with details of how he died.

    My barn was broken into 2 times in the last 2 weeks so here we go again just another thing to sink me further into my hole where I stay away from everyone because I get absolutely no help anywhere I turn.

  • Bruce

    Debbi do not have a calling party. It might bite you in the rear. Don’t lower yourself to his level. It’s not worth it.

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