Detaching From An Alcoholic

What are the ways of detaching from someone who drinks too much? Why would we want to detach form an alcoholic? How can I do this in love when I am so angry at them for being this way? Is loving them still possible after all they have done to me?

This particular subject unfolds into many various roads. I will shed some light and share suggestions on how to separate our emotions from being enmeshed with a problem drinker. Separating ourselves from the way they affect us takes time. It is a process of learning how to do things differently. We don’t really realize it at the time, but our entire lives get all interconnected with everything they are doing and it really affects our behaviors in damaging and negative ways.

Don’t Allow Them to Rent Space in Your Head

You may be thinking; “what does HE mean by that?” Obsessing over an alcoholic is our biggest problem in this situation. The constant looming thoughts in our heads are taking up precious space in our minds. With that being said, don’t allow them to rent space in your head. Find things to do which will change your focus. Read books, exercise, go to the movies or talk to a friend on the phone. Find things that will help your mind DETACH from thinking about them.

Learn to Take Care of Yourself

In the midst of your extremely busy life, learn how to take “out time” for yourself. The alcoholic may not like it that you are doing something to make your SELF happy. That’s OK… do it anyway! When they approach you afterward, just say; “I’m sorry you fell that way” and go into another room.

Understand that alcoholics keep us angry and anxious. We must do things for ourselves in the detachment process regardless of what they think about us. If you are a woman, get your hair and nails done. If you are a man go golfing, fishing or go for a walk. Taking time out to get a massage works really well for relieving stress. You can count on meeting resistance from them, but you have to start taking care of yourself regardless of what they think.

Detaching From What They Think

Because an alcoholic uses anger to try and control us, we must not get upset when they voice their disapproval of when we take care of ourselves. If you get involved with alcoholism support group meetings, the alcoholic will try to goof up your plans. They might say something like; “why are you going to those stupid meetings?” It’s possible they will try to create an argument with you just prior to you leaving for a meeting. It doesn’t matter what they say. Take care of yourself and make your support group meetings and recovery literature the most important part of your life.

Detaching From The Phone

You have a choice…you can either answer the phone or not answer it. You also have another choice. You can either listen to a message they have left you or delete it without listening. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LET THEM UPSET YOU ON THE PHONE. If they are getting out of hand, kindly say; “I’m going to hang up now. I’ll talk to you later.” Then gently hang up the phone. If they leave you nasty messages, don’t listen to them. If the start calling you repeatedly, don’t answer the phone. This is how we detach form the negative influences that an alcoholic has on our lives.

In a sense we are protecting our own emotional self.

How to Stop Arguing With an Alcoholic
Detaching from the old behaviors of arguing with them takes a while. You will have to learn how to keep your mouth shut. When you sense an argument is starting, tell them that you love them or really care about them and then say; “I don’t care to discuss this right now.” You can then go into a different room, close the door and read a book or watch TV. It doesn’t matter what you do…just find something to do other than to argue with them. Learning how to not fight with an alcoholic takes time. This is why it’s important to get involved in support-group meetings for friends and family of alcoholics.

Detaching from the way we have been doing things is a huge subject. We must learn how to separate ourselves from feelings of guilt and shame.

How To Enjoy More Peace and Serenity

  • We learn how to avoid getting into arguments.
  •  We stop getting into the car and driving around to try and find them.
  •  We quit snooping around in their stuff trying to find their stash.
  • We stop obsessing over the alcoholic’s behaviors.
  • We learn how to just get in bed and go to sleep when they aren’t home late at night.
  • We detach from confronting the lies.
  • We learn how to let go and let God deal with them.
  • We stop calling them to check up on them.

There are so many things effecting your life right now from the alcoholic’s behaviors that it’s going to take a while to learn how to do things differently. Little by little, “one day at a time” things will get better as you learn more about how to detach from an alcoholic.

When dealing with an alcoholic, learning loving detachment techniques is vitally important. As we grow in knowledge about alcoholism and how to handle dysfunctional situations better, we start understanding that enabling and detaching are very closely related.

As you continue reading you will learn various methods of separating yourself in a loving way from the destructive behaviors of someone else who is close in your life. These lessons can be applied to many different types of relationships.

The more co-dependent we are and enmeshed with someone, the harder it is to distinguish where we begin and they end. When they are happy, we also are happy. When they are angry our emotions are affected in a negative way as well. We can learn how to not flow with the mood swings of an alcoholic. It’s just going to take making a few changes and doing that “one day at a time.” Remember to go easy on yourself. These changes are all about making progress and not necessarily about doing everything perfectly. If you mess up, just start over.

Let me just trow out a few…

Suggestions That Will Help You Detach from an Alcoholic:

  • Get involved in Al-anon support group meetings. Al-anon is a great organization to try.
  • Read literature on the subject
  • Start developing friendships with people from your support-group meetings
  • Take notes during meetings
  • Start keeping a journal
  • Make this new lifestyle the number one priority in your life

Now here are a few…

Methods of Detaching From A Problem Drinker:

  • Kindly say, ” goodbye” and hang up the phone
  • Refuse to listen to phone messages after you hang up and they frantically call you over and-over again.
  • Quit investigating what they are doing
  • Read books or go visit with friends
  • Shut your mouth when you are angry at them and go into another room
  • Don’t look at them trying to figure out if they’ve been drinking
  • Get your own life by doing things you enjoy doing without them
  • Don’t allow them to rent space in your head,. Stop thinking about them all the time
  • Arguing with an alcoholic accomplishes nothing. Refuse to partake in the chaos
  • Let go of them completely and stop trying to control their behaviors
  • Go for walks
  • Talk on the phone to friends or relatives
  • Take up hobbies again

When We Start Detaching-We Stop Enabling.

This new way of acting will allow the alcoholic to suffer the consequences of their actions and also help them to reach their bottom. In separating ourselves from all of their drama, we in turn,  experience more peace and serenity in our own personal lives. Loving the alcoholic by letting go is the goal of this detachment process that we are learning about.

Separating ourselves as an individual in a co-dependent relationship takes time. As we continue attending alcoholism support group meetings and set goals to better our personal lives, it becomes easier to lovingly remove ourselves from the alcoholic’s behaviors. Being kind to an alcoholic will become easier as we learn how to love them differently. Again, this is not something that will happen overnight.

Avoiding The Sting
As time goes on, we begin to recognize the times in which associating with them would not be a good idea. As we continue to learn detachment methods, the sting of alcoholism occurs less frequently.  This works very much like hanging out around a bee hive. As long as you don’t stick your nose in the hive and keep a safe distance, you won’t get stung.

The hard part of detachment from an alcoholic is breaking habitual patterns that we have been doing for a long time. This “just takes time.”  I’ve heard it said:  “if you walk a hundred miles in the woods,  don’t expect to walk out in an hour.”  The same applies to being obsessed with an alcoholic. It takes time and effort to break free from our destructive behavior patterns that we have become accustomed to.

As we begin to detach more from all of their drama, we quit enabling them to depend upon us. It’s hard to do at first because we are so used to rescuing them from everything. When we quit rescuing them and let them suffer the consequences of their actions, we are less affected by their behaviors.

Detaching from an alcoholic means that we let go of them. It doesn’t mean that we quit loving or caring about them. We just learn how to mind our own business and start living our own lives as they continue to drink. Even though we may still get frustrated with an alcoholic, we will react differently  so that WE will remain more calm and experience greater levels of peace within ourselves.

Consider making a list of things that you enjoy doing and start doing them. This can help tremendously in the process of changing our focus.

The alcoholic may not like our changes in behavior, OH WELL! We have to be strong as we start doing things differently. This is why we need the support  of  support group meetings and of friends who know how to help us change.

Loving detachment from alcoholism means that we don’t make decisions based upon the alcoholic’s opinions, moods  or advice in relation to our life. We eventually begin to be hardly affected by their destructive behaviors, views and attitudes toward us.

Now …I know I’ve shared a lot in this session, but just remember to do the best that you can “one day at a time.”

Written By: JC



516 comments to Detaching From An Alcoholic

  • Sarah A

    Yes I can relate to the “you’re crazy” stuff. If I rang my boyfriend upset he would continue the conversation even though he was with other people. I think he liked it becauase he could tell his friends his crazy girlfriend was on the phone! It makes me so angry just to think about it. I would offer to call him back but he would have a private conversation in front of his friends. He would be all adult and sensible on the phone telling me to calm down..he loved it.
    When I had split up with him and met a muual friend he told me that my x was going out with this young woman. He said oh she was pretty bonkers. I asked my friend if he had met her he said know but I’d heard some phone conversations she seemed bonkers! Ok so my friend can NOT hear her side of the conversation only my x’s but from this he concludes she’s nuts! It makes me mad how everyone thinks my x is the sane one and ALL the women he dates are nuts AGHHHHH!
    They dont even have to say it directly just the odd word where it makes it sound like they are not revealing too much about their girlfriends through loyalty!…but you know mate “nothing is ever enough for her!” poor me poor me ! Ok I’m ranting now but I’m sick of these addicts giving us a bad reputation to cover their problems.

    Once I rang him when he was out and about with his friends after work ( he was working away ) he was very much like a teenage boy sort of acting “SO NER” is the only way I can describe it.Like a clever dick. It was quite early in our relationship. I thought he was showing off but it was very immature. I was keen on him so I was being chatty. When I said are you going for another drink (he was out in the street) He said “yes ..Why…aren’t I allowed?” he was giving me this nagging reputation in front of his friends. Its so unfair!

  • J

    I can relate to all of that as well Sarah. It makes me angry when I think about it too! The only time I allow myself to think about any of that nonsense is when I start feeling bad for him, which these days is not often. That turns me around and gets me back in the right frame of mind, knowing that leaving him was the best and really only decision. They are so toxic and you can’t be involved with that retain your sanity!

  • maureen

    I was told I was crazy every day as well ..I started believing it myself…..I gave and gave and lost myself in the process. I had a part in my abuse because I allowed it I know that. I just have a hard time detatching and not caring anymore about his health and life without me now. Reading everyones posts here I can see that all alcholics lie and cheat and manipulate,I made up excuses for him all the time. When I went to AlaNon i came out of it with the excuse that he couldnt help it because he had a disease…I stayed with him for 6 years because he would quit drinking every year for a few months only to fall off the wagon again. The Dt`s were awful and I thought one day he would stay sober ,quit lying and cheating and we could be happy and grow old together. Today I am angry because I don`t feel good about myself and I wish I could make him hurt as much as I am. That`s not possible though is it ? I feel soo alone and today I just can`t see the light at the end of my tunnel…It`s super bowl and I know exactlly what he doing and who he will be with…Why can I not shut my brain off and not care anymore ? If anyone has any ideas on how to release my anger instead of feeling beat up emtionally still bring them on !

  • Mary B.

    Anger is a NORMAL response to the insane and outrageous behavior visited upon those who CARE about an alcoholic. I once heard it said in therapy that the only way out is through. The only way out of anger is through the anger. I learned to accept that sometimes I would feel angry about what I had been exposed to and what I lost. I, too, have wanted to shut my brain off and not care. I still care anyway. Dealing with this takes a lot for me. I go to Al-Anon meetings. I found a charity based place that will give me 10 free therapy sessions. I need professional help to deal with this. I have ordered The Courage to Change (an Al-Anon publication) through the library and plan to read it. I have to FORCE myself to do things that I enjoy. I checked out some videos (from the library) of South Sea Islands and watched them last night. It was more fun than I thought it would be and it took my mind off those I care about who drink. I have a friend who asked me to make brownies for him and I am going to do that for him later today. I read the book Peace Pilgrim (on interlibrary loan) and that inspired me. I am losing my lady friend of 30 years to end stage liver disease. I cry every day for her. We used to run together. She was like family. I told my adult sons that she is terminal and they all cried. To cap it off, one of my adult sons has a drinking problem and I wonder how long until HE is dying. It is a difficult path. I live one day at a time and try to be thankful for what I DO have. I am working hard to recreate a new life for myself and somehow learn how to live in a world where people I love destroy themselves.

  • maureen

    Thank you Mary for telling me I am normal ! its nice after being called crazy for years..I am pretty sure my ex is dying, he had so many symptoms but would never go to the dr. I know it scares him …he would take 20 vitamins a day and then drink a 60 pounder of vodka a day ! I mean really ? whats the point of the vitamins.. His memory is gone,He would ask me what he did the day before always, right down to who he had talked to and what he had said to them…his hair was falling out and he suffered from allot of stomach issues, sores on his legs , and man was he itchy at night. I had to leave him in June and find me again. I was so lost in his life and making sure he was ok and his business was running. I am hoping he will hit rock bottom soon and get help, the thing is he has money to drink,and always will..I just couldnt enable any longer and watch him die. Honestly i know him well enough that he will never get help, from a dr. or go to AA. I am living one day at a time as well, I want to be happy again and quit giving him space in my head , all in time I guess, some days are just harder than others….xo

  • Mary

    My friend who is dying worked as a registered nurse! Her family member who has seen her recently says she has no hair, running sores on her body, and legs like toothpicks. She can no longer work or drive. They have filed for disability for her because she is terminal. (Five years ago she had the body of a distance runner and could run 20 miles at a crack.) It sounds like your alcoholic will remain in denial like my friend. I am told that she does understand that she is sick and dying but she still denies being an alcoholic! I think about my friend every day. I can not believe that she is going to die soon. I didnt think that I could run any more, but I have tried a short jog in the morning and so far my body is tolerating it. I guess I will slowly increase my mileage and do it to honor my friend. She used to have a PAYING contract with an athletic company to run! She turned in a time 5 minutes short of qualifying to run the marathon in the Olympics. It is such a sad waste of a good person. I will go to my Al-Anon meeting tomorrow and that will help, and I see my therapist on Wednesday. One day at a time I am trying to build a life for myself. I always seem to have my friend in my head…I guess because she was such a good friend and I still care very much about her.

  • Sarah A

    After all these years of trying to get my x to stop taking coke I have begun to realise that I might be used to controlling people! When I realised his behaviour was unacceptable instead of walking away I thought I could control him. Yes I would say I cared for him loved him. But really I think I didn’t want to accept that he didn’t care about me. Or couldn’t care about me. I think a lot of the grieving is admitting we can not make someone love us. Maybe its from childhood when we tried to get attention or recognition. The way I have acted towards my x… asking him over and over to quit. It was a shock when I got my phone bill and saw the number of texts! Its really not about him anymore..he’s an addict! I’m like a child in the dark banging on the wrong door! If he ever gets clean he will look back and say “you knew I was an addict…. what were you?!
    Sarah A

  • Brian

    I can actually feel relief after reading this article. I was beginning to think I was crazy. Growing up my gap was an alcoholic and I never thought I would be in my current situation. My partner has had a problem for years and even hit bottom before we met. I struggle and worry everyday wondering if today will be free of drinking or not. Walking on eggshells! I am so great full to have found this site. Thank you thank you!

  • J

    I felt the same way when I found this site! Its funny, no matter how much you think you know about alcohol or addiction you really have no idea until it touches you personally. I couldn’t believe how many others have dealt with the same stuff I was. Hang in there!

  • john

    This article, in particular, has been useful to me. Over the past 10 years, I’ve watched the girl of my dreams – my wife – slowly transform into someone that I no longer recognize. I’ve grown so tired of the affairs, the sexting, the checking in and out of our marriage like it’s a hotel, and the embarrassment of seeing her plastered in front of friends and family. I had to rush her to urgent care three weeks ago for alcohol withdrawal, and after we got home she stayed up all night sexting another man, trembling and sweating the whole time. She’s been in an inpatient rehab facility for the past 20 days, and I had held out some hope until I got a letter from her asking me to mail two pairs of the most skin-tight jeans she’s ever worn, a pair of knee-high black leather boots, and makeup — to an alcohol rehab facility! And it was at this point that I realized the girl I married, the charming, self-confident, conservative mother-of-two, is never coming back, and I have to let go. It’s difficult, because I had been hanging on to the hope that the beautiful woman I married was still inside there somewhere. But now I know that she’s gone, and I have to just accept that. I never knew much about alcoholism until a few years ago. I knew that it could kill a person; I just never realized that the person inside dies long before the body does.

  • Laura

    Thank you Brian, J, John (ALL) for posting. Part of my problem, lately, is that I forget that I am dealing with the dis-ease of alchoholism. My qualifier is physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually SICK. When I get too close I become sick as well and my own recovery suffers. I am not going to pretend to understand all that happens … on so many and various levels … i just return to the tools of the Program and work/practice them at a renewed level … walking this path one day at a time … greatful to all who share their own experience, strength, and hope …

  • Laura

    ………………… grateful 🙂 …………..

  • Debbi


    I read your post & my heart went out to you. I feel the same way “watching the man of my dreams slowly transform into someone I no longer recognize” or for that matter want to be around because of the hurt it caused me.

    I made the separation but the hurt over the loss is so deep I still cry every day. I know I am the only one feeling and crying over it–he is on his “happy, merry” way leaving so many shattered lives behind him.

    I have closed up and this has caused me to never trust again–please don’t let it do that to you–it is an awful place to be. Alone.

  • Pam

    I stumbled upon this site tonight and boy am I glad I did. I have been living with an alcoholic for nine years lying and cheating the anger laughing in my face, telling me I was crazy being in the phone with other women and making me look like a crazy person.
    He left a week ago and it has turned my would upside down like someone else said we worry about them and think about them knowing they sure are not thinking of us. He is living in a hotel room tight now thanks to his mom.
    Boy have I been doing everything wrong in handling this, in my town there is no al a non. I wish I had that support. just earlier today I told him I would see what kind of efficiencies there are in town so he wouldn’t have to be wasting his money on a hotel room. After reading this site I called him back told him I loved him care for him but I cant look for him its up to him. so that was a huge step for me. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but still I do,But I will not give in and help him I simply said I love you I will always care for you but I cant do it. I don’t want him consuming space in my head but that’s all I have known for nine years and he is dieing I know it he cough’s up blood every day but he still denies things its his sinuses he says. he has had blood in his stoll. but now is my time to let go and let god. does anyone know of a chat site for people like us???? thanks you for sharing your stories you have truely helped me and the one person that said you want to hurt him because he has hurt you , that was sssoooo me.
    Thank you and good luck to all

  • lise

    My husband that I am seperated from just spent his birthday in jail this weekend. He was waiting for his sentensing for his 3rd dui in two weeks, while he now just got his 4th. I am reading that he will probably have 1-5 years in prison for this conviction. He still wont get help!! He says why now, that he will probably just flee and live as a fugitive. We have two small children that I will be raising on my own now. Addiction is a scary thing…I guess its time for me to move. He says “what do you want from me” I tell him to sober up and be a partner with me. His response is “I am not able to give you what you want its to late” Im having the hardest time accepting this! I want to scream…WAKE UP!

  • Sarah A

    Hi Pam and John and everyone

    With me I think the cheating was like putting addiction in a sauce pan and then heating it up! The person they present to their new conquests is the person we would like to be with. I’m sure jealousy has a huge role in my own addiction to my x. I dont want to believe that he is capable of being so OPENLY decietful!John my heart goes out to you when you goe instructions to send the sexy clothes. I think they begin to think of us like Mothers or fathers or house keepers! not romantic partners. But then I haven’t reacted like a romantic partner but then again I took on the role of Mother (loving him whatever.) We are part of the addiction we are there supporting it! The cheating is a weird thing. Not all addicts do it but for mine it was all part of it. I thought it was the coke causing massive ego/sex drive but it seems that alcoholics do the same thing. I just can’t get my head around it.John no one deserves that kind of pain its like mental torture.Your wife might be too gone to care about your feelings but that doesn’t mean you are not worth caring about. We care about you and you have the right to care about yourself. I kept giving and not getting anything back. My x even stole my ideas! My friends alcoholic husband decorated his bedroom in his new place as an exact copy of the family home! what a wind up for her. Sometimes I feel like my x has sailed off on a party boat to the other side of the world, I’m waving from the shore and he hasn’t even glanced back!
    Sarah A

  • Karens


    “Your addiction to your AH.” wow, that really
    said a lot in one short sentence. I am still rolling
    that around in my head. I thought my addiction was
    emotional eating but maybe the truth is my addiction
    to my AH.

    Thankyou for your very clever statement. It
    really has me thinking. Of course, my ah would be
    manipulative enough to convince me to stay so his
    creature comforts and home would be met. He would
    never fix a meal or push the button to the dishwasher.
    I did not realize how these functions would interfer
    with his drinking. So I am an enabler!!!

  • Mary B

    I am fortunate in that there IS an Al-Anon group in my area. At one of our recent meetings, it was mentioned that Al-Anon has a publication (monthly I think) that can be “like” going to a meeting for those who can not attend a meeting. A little online research should yield an Al-Anon phone number, address, and/or email (your choice!) so that you can take advantage of this resource.

  • Sarah A

    Hi Karens

    Yes I am definitely addicted to my x. I go through the same addictive cycles as he does. I get mad at him. Swear I will never talk to him again. I feel ill I see how he is hurting me. I cut him off ( cold turkey!) Then when I start to feel better I start to think of him romantically again and try again with him! And round I go again. When we first split, up months would go by, then he would get in touch again but now I have to admit its me I’m stuck in a loop just like him. It goes like this…..1. I try and handle the addiction (to him)I’m quite manipulative being kind to him trying to change his behaviour. 2. Lose my self in my addiction (To him)Ignore my own feelings. 3. Suffer badly from the effects of my addiction. get angry and frustrated. 4. Swear I will never see (use) him again. 5. start to get my self together and feel better. Then back to number 1. again! Also the time span is getting shorter! When I left him I thought it was for good but then he gave me hope by saying he had been to the Priory. Now I can’t imagine leaving him for good and never going back to number 1. It will take a mind change and some times I get there. I have been going to councelling. I think I’m hanging on to a fantasy. Not to be mean but I have noticed that people describe their Alcoholic partners in such glowing terms almost like they were complete angels before they drank! Maybe we are all guilty of a bit of “fairy tail” thinking! like anyone could be that perfect when sober. Yes I am addicted. I even keep it a secret from my friends and family. Just like a chemical addiction. Karen your post made me smile. i have this image of your AH sitting on the sofa with you feeding his addiction! I dont think I have done my x any favours. I was reading an article from a sex addict and the addict said he knew his wife was desperate to hear some lies about his behaviour! He knew (even through his addiction) that she really didn’t want to know the truth. He actually said…” she made it easy for me to continue my addiction because she wanted to believe the lies”…scary so heartless. But it made me feel a bit pathetic. A strong, sorted woman wouldn’t want to hear the lies, she would walk away.I know they get angry when we call them on their lies but its emotional death for us to accept them. I should have taken JC’s advice and set some boundaries before I got angry and just blurted out the anger like a fish wife!

    Sarah A

  • Mary B.

    I have been unemployed for the past 2 years, due to the down economy. I have decided to accept a small retirement which is pending. One of my adult children has been unemployed for the past year. He used this free time to develop his drinking habit and extend it from “somewhat social drinking and overdrinking” to “quite alcoholic, but in denial.”

    Because of this, I do NOT live with him. I lived with him for 2 and a half weeks this past fall and moved out due to his drinking problems. Recently his electric was turned off but some fool within his “circle” evidently saw fit to give or loan him money for this purpose. I felt sad that he has come to the point where he can not even provide utilities for himself….but I had noticed that he finds ways to drink.

    I wish I could have a “normal” relationship with my son. It is NOT looking possible. I abstain from alcohol entirely. I consider myself an alcoholic who only drank for a few years and then was content to just be “self will run riot” without the alcohol. I attend Al-Anon and I work a 12 step program. I don’t think there is much common ground for a relationship between a person who lives sober and a person who imbibes all the time.

    I monitor myself all the time. I refuse to enable his sick lifestyle. He remains in denial. It breaks my heart. He has a wonderful education and was a contributing member of society for a while but now it looks like he is going to destroy himself.

  • Sarah A

    Hi Mary

    I really admire your post as you are able to seperate what is you and what is him.

    I know what you mean about not having much common ground for a relationship. I found this difficult with my x what do you talk about without ignoring the elephant in the room. Even when I could get him talking about music or work I felt he was talking about stuff to throw me off the scent! Its very tricky because all the time you are thinking stop talking about guitar chord sequences what about this big bloody elephant here?

    If I was your son I would be so glad you are keeping yourself healthy. It is really positive that you are so well educated in addiction. You are doing all the right things by not enabling him. Even with his friends helping him with money he may still hit bottom at any point. You are like a rock something for him to cling too when he decides to get sober. When you said he looks like he is going to destroy himself. There is always hope. You didn’t destroy yourself.
    If you are frustrated at not being able to show your love is there a way you can show it. I’m not very religous but would saying a loving prayer or lighting a candle in a church help? Maybe you could write to him and tell him what you are going to do from your end? I dont want to tell you what to do I just feel for you.

    Sarah A

  • Debbi

    Hi Sara A

    Your reference to
    “the cheating was like putting addiction in a sauce pan and then heating it up! The person they present to their new conquests is the person we would like to be with”
    was exactly my feelings also.

    It hurts to watch them go on to the new conquest & drop us like a bag of trash alongside the curb. My second hurt is in addition to doing that, is all the lies he tells others about me like telling them it was okay for him to move on because I abused him! I just want to “beat something up” whenever I hear he spreads this around & think that my gosh people believe him too! The pain cuts through you and I too sometimes want to reach out to him but I keep reminding myself: No Contact = No New Hurts! I also tell myself if he is dumb enough to leave you, be smart enough to let him go!

    But oh my gosh I can’t ever remember feeling pain like this that just stops me in my tracks sometimes.

    Thanks for the great post & ((HUGS)) to all of you going through this awful ordeal. My prayers are with you all.

  • Sarah A

    Oh Debbie

    I know it hurts so much. But we know the truth. My x told me i was quite frightening when I got angry with him! I’m sure he’s told everyone oooh she can be quite scary. he told me about this other girl he was seeing…”everyone thought she was a hippy chick but she was a dark satanic force”! you have to laugh really. I expect your x’s friends might believe all the little details but they must see the overall pattern of failed relationships.

    Anyway we have each other. We know that we are not crazy or abusive, if anything we are too understanding, too involved.

    Yes I get so angry when I am walking to work. I want to hit some one walking towards me! (what a terrible thing to admit!)In the end and years later I recently just got the anger out. I said dont you dare blame me for us not being together. You did it to yourself. My x coke boyfriend had a father who was Alcoholic so he must have had so much anger in him from the years of this nonsence. At least we are grown up and we can get away!

    I like it when you say no contact=no new hurts. It is true. That’s why i say I’m hanging on to a fantasy. My x becomes like a cure all. If only he would stop taking coke everything would be great. Maybe we shouldn’t worry about what are x’s friends think. We know the truth. All these posts help to remind us that Alcoholics and addicts love to blame us. But come on everyone! for us its just like water off a ducks back….keep on paddling guys!
    Sarah A

  • Mary B.

    For Sarah A.

    I am also losing my lady friend of 30 years to alcoholism. She is dying of end stage liver disease. She is still in denial. About 5 years ago her life got crazy but I did not know why since she was a closet drinker. I broke contact because of the craziness of her life.

    Now, instead of being one of my lady friend’s “close friends” as she lives her final days, I am an outsider. I wish I had chosen more of a middle ground…not enabling her but still staying in touch.

    I am trying NOT to make the same mistake with my son. Even though he does not answer me, I occasionally write a snail mail letter to him. I tell him a few details of my life and tell him that I love him. No matter what he chooses, he will always BE my son and I will always care what happens to him.

    I have not given up hope. At the same time, statistics say that of 33 alcoholics, only ONE will work a program of recovery and the other 32 will die of the disease. So I try to temper my hope with realism.

    I try to do a lot for my son in the spiritual realm. I meditate and envision him healthy. I think I will try lighting a candle in a church…it couldn’t hurt and it might help!

    Thanks for your words of encouragement!

  • Sarah A


    Your son is blessed to have you there working away for him in the background. On some level he will know that. Although he doesn’t always reply to you he has probably absorbed what you have said even if he can’t act on it. My x has repeated stuff back to me that I hadn’t realised he had taken in. All the best to you and God bless you and your son.

    Sarah A

  • Debbi

    Sara A.

    I’m trying to keep on paddling just like you said–great thing to see first thing in the AM.

    I just hold onto one hope that the next woman in x’s life and his friends see the truth finally–he did not have a history of failed relationships–his image was everything to him so I let out some proof to his family about the “real person” and boy did his anger hit the roof!

    I felt bad about it afterwards but told my girlfriend & her words to me were: “Hell, if my husband did to me what yours did to you. . .I’d have walked over to his mother & shoved the proof right under her nose & showed her what her son did to me” So got some support on that one!

  • JC

    I accidentally deleted this post that had the info below, sorry. I was able to retrieve the content but lost the persons name and email…Please post your name and claim this and I’ll fix it.

    “I have been dealing with my sons father for 6 years, he is an alcoholic. I feel as though I tried, I left him because I couldn’t take the abuse anymore. We then went to meetings together but it still was not working. He then want back to a female that he cheated on me with and then come back to me. It seems to be a continuous cycle. I have not been involved with him for two years, prior to the recent events. See my problem is I can’t stop loving him, I don’t want to give up my faith that we could be a family am I wrong? When we had our son it was very hard because it was at the beginning of our relationship. It was hard n scary for both of us. He choose alcohol and the girl he cheated on me because it was an easy option, meaning she didn’t care if he drank every day or didn’t care about him having a relationship with his family but I did was I wrong? I let go of being in the relationship, but I still love him. The only thing I ask of him is to spend quality time with his son. He is now engaged to the “other female”, but still continues to tell me that he loves me and always will. He recently got into trouble because he was drinking. Before that happened we had spent time together the weekend before, he told my son that he loves me and wanted to marry me. He told me he was not getting married, I fell for it. Needless to say, he is finally getting help going to AA and following through with his sponsors. Yet, he is still getting married in June. I am happy for him, but I am hurting. I have to have a relationship with him because of our son. I have been strong for our son. I prayed for his father to get help and I still do, but I am beyond angry and hurt that he is getting married to the other female who by the way ruined his sobriety of 4 years and now is getting to marry the sober man I fell in love with. I’ve never replied to anything like this, but I am just seeking some advice …. I have kept a journal and attended some meetings over the last 6 years… My question is do I really just let him go? And give up on us ever actually being a family?”

  • I recently reunited with an old friend from high school. All of the old feelings came back and we have been seeing each other. He is an alcoholic. Please Please, I need to hear from you all telling me to leave this alone or not to. He has told me that he wants to get better. And I believe him.

    Thank You

  • L.

    Observe closely what he does … less of what he says … proverbial: actions speak louder than words. Some Al-Anon under your belt will allow you to live quality days whether the alcoholic is drinking or not. All the best!

  • Bruce

    Robin I suggest you end it. Don’t believe him about wanting to quit. I kept hanging on hoping things would get better. They didn’t. If you look around this site yo will find my story of my A girlfriend dying last week. She was a heavy drinker and drug user. Dummy me didn’t see it or was just to dumb to accept it. Remember alcoholics not only hurt themselves but loved ones too! If you want to be happy move on. If a lifestyle of lies, stealing, possible cheating, or other problems is what you want stay together. Just remember to put yourself first.

  • C

    L gives excellent advice. I wish you would read all the posts on this site – they really tell the story of being with an alcoholic.

    I don’t know your age, but you are able to get out right now – a year from now, your self-esteem will be zero and you will be depressed – not the great life all o us could have if we chose wisely.

    Take him out around your friends – the guys have great radar and can give you a heads up.

  • J

    Hi Robin,
    Listen to all of these folks. Learn through the experiences written here. You will be stuck in a painful, endless loop of chaos and heartbreak if you think he’s going to change what he’s doing so you can be together. I suggest you let it go before you get any more attached. You will not find lasting happiness there, please believe this. Good luck to you and God bless you both.

  • M

    I have 3 adult sons. One is an alcoholic and an addict about to become homeless.

    I started by attending Al Anon meetings. I requested the Big Book of AA from my public library and I read it from cover to cover. I began working a 12 step program for myself.

    As my son’s condition worsened, I began wanting to drink MYSELF even though I had left the stuff alone for 40 years. (I am 60.) I wanted the oblivion of not feeling what I feel as my son destroys himself and his life. So I started attending AA meetings as needed to keep myself sober.

    I also found a free therapist through a local charity.

    I would suggest you attend an Al Anon meeting. You could also go to an “open” meeting for AA. You could get and read the Big Book. Then you would know what 12 step programs are all about.

    If your friend is serious about cleaning himself up, he will GO to the 12 step program, get a sponsor, and start working a program of recovery.

    The odds here are not good. At one meeting it was said that out of 33 alcoholics, statistically speaking, only one will walk through the doors of a 12 step program, work the simple steps, and live clean and sober. The other 32 will dies of the disease itself or of complications from the disease.

    My son has genius level intelligence and a doctorate level degree in a health care field. Thanks to his alcoholism and his addiction, he is now a babbling idiot making one foolish decision after another.

    I feel for you and your friend. I hope he chooses recovery!


  • Bruce

    Robin: I suggest 2 books. Under The Influence and Beyond The Influence written by Katherine Ketcham. They are worth the time and money.

  • Completely Frustrated

    This is all very well and good, and I understand the value of disengaging and holding people to the consequences of their actions… BUT!!!! I am the sister-in-law of a raging alcoholic who has had several DUI’s already and drives drunk daily. If he kills someone – some poor child in the neighborhood or innocent out walking their dog – it will devasate our entire family. My sister is doing what she needs to do and I honor that. I try not to think about it. That doesn’t work. I don’t know where to put this. All advice appreciated.

  • J

    Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do there. You can’t control anything in that situation except you’re level of involvement and how much you allow it into your life. The sad and scary truth is that any one of these people can cause harm to themselves and/or the world at large through their actions and addiction. I think its safe to say that we have all had that same concern at one time or another. My advice to you is to get some distance from the situation if it is causing you stress. If you can be supportive to your sister without taking this on as your own problem, then of course do that. If she wants guidance in dealing with this, maybe you can provide some of it or help her find some resources. It’s a big problem, no doubt, for everyone involved. But sometimes we need to just detach from things that we can’t change. Detachment doesn’t mean that you approve of his actions or think it’s ok. It only means that you are reclaiming your peace and standing in your own truth. That’s why the Serenity prayer is so popular, it allows us the chance to accept that we can’t change or control everything and everyone, and reminds us to focus on the things that we can change or control. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear but that’s the way that I would go about it. Good luck.

  • Completely Frustrated

    Thank you for your time and considered response. There is certainly no value in my inserting myself – bluck! “Get distance from the situation that is causing you stress” is great advice and I can use it as a mantra to help keep both distance and perspective.

  • J

    Glad to be of assistance 🙂

  • Karens

    In our state you can have someone who aoppears to be
    driving while intoxicated arrested, even arrested
    inside his own house. This happened to a friend.
    Love is tough, he quit drinking, his wife, one happy
    lady, he finally quit drinking!!!!!!!

  • JC

    Completely Frustrated, we had a good conversation below this article:

    You might be able to find a few ideas to help you sort out how to handle the matter.

  • Cass

    Hello Everyone.
    I just left my alcoholic husband. We’d been together for 11 years and have three wonderful children together.
    At the moment I came across this site I had googled “getting over an alcoholic ex”.
    As I read through the article and comments, I couldn’t help but cry. It was so nice (and terrible) to see so many others dealing with the same chaos, battles and dilemmas. Sarah A left alot of comments that hit home. Though there was no cheating (that I know of) my husband has an alcohol and Cocaine problem. I grew up with a crack addicted father and detached myself from him after graduating High School only to marry someone who was just like him…only worse. One day I looked at my children and thought…why am I doing this to them? I have the power and the means to make a better life for them…why am I subjecting them to the same torture that I endured as a child? So, I began to focus on them and myself. If my husband got drunk, I’d take them to the park and show them a good time. I began to make the choice not to let his bad decisions affect me. I came out of the shadows and admitted to people that I lied to them about him. That I was covering up his problem, and that I wouldn’t be doing that anymore. As mentioned in the comments above, I found myself addicted to him. I had/have a problem, and I believe much of it comes from the father I grew up with, but I will not blame him as I am an adult now and make my own decisions. What I couldn’t control as a child, I can control now. But that’s the thing…was I over compensating for not being able to control/help my father that I found another tortured soul to attempt to conquer? I don’t wholly believe that since he didn’t have these problems when we met or in our early dating relationship. But I did see it before we got married, before we had children, and as each anniversary flew by. Still I stayed. Always hoping, and always disappointed and angry. It was like being married to two people. The wonderful, caring, funny person he was when sober and the lying, manipulative, thieving, a**hole he was when drunk. He did that “crazy” thing you guys mentioned. I always wondered why his friends thought I was a b**ch when I was always so nice to them. Turns out he was telling them ridiculous things about me. He would call me and make it seem (to the people around him) that I was yelling at him and he’d be telling me ‘calm down’ and ‘stop yelling’ when on the other line I’m like “what are you talking about? I’m not yelling, why are you acting like this?” I didn’t realize that was a common alcoholic issue. I just thought it was him. Reading these comments made me realize many things about our relationship, and about myself. I also find myself angry at him because he’s moving on. I was the one with the job supporting him and paying all the bills. I’d hoped that once I left he’d realize how lucky he was and find himself with nothing, hopefully hitting his ‘bottom’. Nope. His sister took him in, his mother bought him a new car to help him find a ‘job’, and his friends are taking him out like he’s this newly single bachelor with no responsibilities. Yes, there’s some jealousy there. He should be miserable, but he’s not. He abused and used me for years, and instead of suffering for it as I feel he should, he’s enjoying himself as usual. I guess I just have to forget about him and detach myself completely because the only one that can make me miserable now is myself…and that’s exactly what I’m doing by dwelling on this. Here’s to detachment…

  • M

    Hi Cass,

    The same type of thing happened in my family. I lived with my alcoholic son for 2 and a half weeks. I TOLD everyone in the family what I had witnessed…including the fact that he drives himself home drunk. I had “hoped” they would all go to Al Anon and NOT enable his drinking.

    No dice. Everyone “helped him out” so that he is still living in his house. But his house is due to be foreclosed in May so that will end soon.

    It is NOT that I want my son to be homeless! I want my son sober and healthy. Suffering the consequences of his actions is the only way I know of that he might wake up and stop drinking. But everyone “rescues” him so it is taking longer and longer.

    It may “seem” like your ex is getting away with something in the present moment. In the long run, all he is doing is slowly killing himself.

    Al Anon was NOT enough for me. I found a therapist through a charity that I have been seeing. And I joined a grief group because I am also going to lost my lady friend of 30 years to the disease of alcoholism. She has terminal liver disease.

    What you CAN do is live, one day at a time, and try to make your life and your children’s lives as positive as possible.

  • Karens

    If you choose to stay with your ah expect his behavior
    to never change. The only one who can change is yourself.

    Get away from his demeaning friends. Drunk birds fly
    together and support each other. New friends will
    soon learn that you are not the kind of person they
    complain about and you will find support. They choose
    their lifestyle and you can choose your own.

    It is important to develop you. Your strength through
    God is what will sustain you and your family. This
    does not mean it will happen overnight. You will gradually discover your power for your life. Life
    is a journey. Not an easy journey but you can grow,
    retain your dignity and become that strong person you
    are meant to be. Let his chips or bird pooh fall
    where it may. You only get one chance at this life.
    Make the best of it for you and your children. Life
    will never be the expected story like you find in
    books. It is what it is, make the best of it. Bless
    all of you, just remember you CAN do it.

  • Debbi

    How long does it take for others to see the A for what they are? I am still hiding because no one saw my plight & still even my friends have left me, believing his lies over the truth–Am I the one who was crazy & there never was an alcohol problem in the first place?

  • M

    Hi Debbi,

    The sad truth is that many others will NEVER see the A for what they are. I hope there is an Al Anon group where you live that you can go to. It was a revelation for me when I went to an Al Anon group and EVERYONE at the meeting BELIEVED ME when I said that my son has a drinking problem.

    Not only does the alcoholic DENY the problem, it seems that most of the people surrounding the alcoholic deny it too!

  • Marie

    I went to my first AlAnon meeting yesterday. I was afraid and almost didn’t go. I have been married to an alcoholic for 11 years now. I have tried all these years to help him. I have made myself so tired by always watching over him and his drinking. Always worried he might get into an accident and hurt someone because of his drinking. Monitoring his drinking, emptying beer cans in the cooler. Calling to hear him and try and figure out how much he has already drank before he even gets home from work. Having to watch what I say so I don’t upset him. There has been so many times I wanted out because of the horrible way he treats me. I am tired of worrying when he gets upset and leaves and doesn’t return.He tells others lies about me, I now think it was just to keep people from getting close to me so I wouldn’t be able to let them know I am dealing with an alcoholic. I have allowed this to be acceptable. Yesterday there was so much support that I felt at the AlAnon meeting. Everybody welcomed me and made me feel like I am not alone. They gave me hope. I now realize I have to detach myself and start living for me and my children. I don’t want to be this sad, exhausted person anymore. I realize now I CAN NOT change him. It has to come from him. I need to change myself. I always felt like I could help him stop his drinking but I now know I can’t and all the love i feel for him can’t either, i just wish I could of. I don’t want to abandon him but I am really tired and want to make life better and happier because we all have been living our lives around his alcoholism. Our family needs to be happy again. I am going to try my hardest to make that possible. Thank you AlAnon.

  • Mary

    Hi Marie,

    The thing that alcoholics do has a name. It is called “spinning.” You know…to try and put a different “spin” on everything. It comes in different forms. Some tell lies to other people. In my family, my alcoholic adult son would always change the conversation to start talking about his brother. Anything to take the focus OFF what the alcoholic is doing and put the focus somewhere else.

    Learning that there was a name for this and why the alcoholic does it was VERY helpful to me. Suddenly things began to make sense.

    You are NOT the only person struggling with this. There are lots of us out here.

    My youngest son has a mental illness. He is currently in the hospital which is a good thing because his latest round of unwellness has made him violent. He was NOT violent before he became mentally ill. He is also delusional and one of his strongest delusions is that his parents are horrible people who hate him and cause all his problems. I spent 3 hours at the hospital today to give them documentation that my son is suicidal so they would NOT release him onto the streets….and yet my son did not and does not want to see me. It would break my heart but I realize my son is NOT choosing to reject me. His mind is affected by a chemical imbalance so he can not think properly about the situation. Ny son who is mentally ill has NOT been in treatment and so his relapse is partly due to his noncompliance.

    Meantime, my middle son, as far as I know, continues to drink despite the fact that his life is crumbling around him. And of course HE wants little to nothing to do with me because I called him out on his behavior and I WILL NOT be around it or enable it in any way shape or form. He is in total denial and thinks he is a social drinker. He has been unemployed for over a year, is about to be homeless, and he drives drunk. Go figure.

    My oldest son and my ex husband and I are left to try to figure out some type of game plan for when my mentally ill son gets out of the hospital.

    In Al Anon, and in therapy, I am learning to take care of ME. I am actually planning to go to some fun activities the next 2 days. I refuse to let my suffering children RUIN my life. I HAVE to take care of me. No one else is going to do it FOR me, that is for sure.

    Of course I still love all my children. My heart aches for them. But they are adults and they have to assume responsibility for their choices.

    It always “feels” like we are abandoning the alcoholic. But the person we abandon even more is OURSELVES! I finally figured this out because my therapist kept harping on me about “self care.”

  • Marie

    Hi Mary,
    I always knew my husband drank but I never realized back then how much he was drinking. He can drink all day and still function at work. He is self employed and works very hard. Things are starting to make sense to me now. He has always been mean when he gets upset and says things that are relly painful to hear and forget. He has always left our home when he gets upset and comes back when he is over it. I don’t know why I have made that behavior acceptable. When he comes back he is loving and sorry and I have always wanted to believe this time he means it, but the next arguement I am called the same things or told things that never leave me feeling good. I have cried alot for him and for the things he has done and said. I think I hang on to the hope that he will change. I always believed in my heart he would because he loves me even though he isn’t loving. He is a good person sober and that isn’t very often anymore but he becomes a monster when he drinks. He has a lot of issues that have happened in his childhood that he has never dealt with to try and work through them to be able to let them go and live his life happy. I have tried helping him. He says no one has ever loved him but me. I get to upset when he cares so much about his work, his customers and making the dollar more than he cares about fixing himself and all the problems our marriage has. He left our home a month ago and the only thing that has changed has been me because I have not allowed him to come back and this is the first time in 11 years I have not allowed him back.I was hoping he would open his eyes and somehow realize what he is doing. It is a struggle for me and this has been a long and difficult month. I have gotten out more and I am not home waiting for the change. I do feel at times I am abandoning him. I go through this emotional rollercoaster. He hasn’t done anything to try and save our marriage or even work on himself. My heart hurts and there are times I feel like I am better but then there are times I can’t stop crying. Our kids haven’t even asked about him at all this time. I have been reading so much on alcoholism and coming to the realization that change may never come from him and it needs to come from me. I wish you luck Mary. I hope I can have the same strength you have to get through your difficult issues. You are right when you said they are adults and have to take responsibility for their choices. I hate this disease and what it has done to this family.I want to be able to smile and be happy and not feel guilty for feeling that way. I don’t want to pretend everything is ok anymore.

  • Mary

    Hi Marie,

    My lady friend of 30 years is dying from alcoholism. She was a closet drinker so I did not suspect what was going on. I knew she was making weird choices and her life was insane so I distanced myself from her. Six years ago she could still run 20 miles at a brisk pace. Now she has terminal liver disease. She is rail thin, has almost no hair, and has running sores on her body. She is delusional. Her mind is gone. She has no short term memory. She can not work. She is still in denial and she is a registered nurse. And she is still drinking!

    The statistics are not encouraging. Out of 23 alcoholics, statistics say that only one will walk through the doors of a 12 step program and work the simple steps. The other 22 will continue to drink and eventually die of the disease.

    You would think that I would find the statistics to be depressing. Strangely, they gave me the courage to go on with MY life. The odds are NOT in favor of my son recovering. So I work at moving on. There is yet hope for him. I think of him surrounded by a healing white light. I release him to my higher power. I meditate on health for him. I sometimes light a candle for him. I ask people to pray for him. And then I go on with my day and my life.

    I had my public library do an interlibrary loan and I got the AA Big Book and read it from cover to cover. That helped me a lot, as well.

    I went to a speaker’s meeting of AA. That helped me too…just to remember that some people DO recover from the disease…or maybe learn to live with the disease in a state of sobriety, one day at a time is a better way to think of it. To hear a real human being describe all the things he had done in the grip of the disease made me feel less crazy.

    People caught in an addiction are actually insane. The addiction becomes their object of love. They love it before everything else…before themselves, before their family, before their friends. It becomes their purpose in life.

    I don’t know how old your kids are but for teens there is Al a teen. When you feel ready, you might start a discussion with them. Kids have a way of secretly thinking that things are their fault. Adults do it too. I was in my head trying to figure out what I did wrong so that my very accomplished and gifted son was choosing to drink himself to death. In Al Anon I learned that I did not cause the disease and I can not cure it. What a relief!

    I got myself a Y membership and started working out. I like to hike. I am in pretty good physical shape. I hiked for 10 hours last Saturday. I was pretty stiff and sore for a couple of days. Then I hiked 12 miles on Tuesday including a very steep climb up an old railroad bed that is two thirds of a mile long. Being out in nature, on beautiful spring days, looking at endangered and protected trout in a high mountain stream…I was actually happy. I did not think “I” could be happy in a world where my closest friend is dying, one of my children is a practicing alcoholic, and another child is suffering from an untreated mental illness.

    I still have crying spells. I suppose I always will. At least now they are spells instead of entire days of crying and feeling despair.

    I am a musician and a poet. I wrote this…maybe it will help you.

    I can walk, I can walk, I can bravely soldier on.

    I can deal with what’s left, I can cope with what’s gone.

    Things would not be this way if it were up to me.

    The things I can not change will just have to be.


  • Karens


    Alcoholics run with people of their own kind. They
    lie to protect him and themselves. I did learn that
    his friends were NOT my friends, they definitly were
    HIS. He never ran with couples who were even semi
    sober. I did get tired of them ALL and the B.S. Do
    they know he is an alcoholic? Are they Alcoholics?

    My experience was to gather people around me who
    I enjoy. He listens in on the phone and I have
    warnedd them, they know, so the conversation is
    short and I call them back on my cell phone.

    Am I happier detatching and making my own life? YES

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