Handling the Threats of an Alcoholic


Handling situations associated with alcoholism is challenging. The threats that an alcoholic makes can catch us off guard. I’m going to share a few situations that I’ve encountered and give you a few ideas that will help you deal with the irrational behaviors of the problem drinker.

The Expensive Guitar Was Put By the Street Curb
During an angry outburst, the addict in my life threatened to throw many of my things outside of the house if did not move out… “today.”

How would you deal with that?

At this point of the relationship, I had been attending alcoholism support group meetings for a pretty good while. I had learned that I really had no control over the alcoholic’s behaviors. If she was going to start throwing things out, there was nothing I could do to make her stop. It was then that I really began pulling out the tools I needed for detaching from an alcoholic.

As the intensity of her anger increase, I decided that I should remove myself for a little while until she cooled off. I politely said; “I going to the store to get a few things.” I then made a ten minute trip to the convenient store. Returning from the store I was pulling around the corner in front of the house, noticed that my one thousand dollar used acoustic guitar had been placed by the street curb.

I simply grabbed the instrument and headed to the house. Had I not been trained in how to handle the threats of an alcoholic, things could have been a whole lot worse than they were. The key was knowing that she was going to do what she wanted regardless of what I said or did.

Alcoholics use anger as a control mechanism. If they can keep you anxious and fearful, then you will be the one acting crazy not them. In this case, she was the one displaying insane behavior. I learned this while attending alcoholism support meetings.

Could you act as if nothing ever happened?

Upon my arrival into the house, she had fled the scene and was gone. I shuttered to think of what she had done to my other things in “our” bedroom.

I walked into the room and discovered that she had thrown all of my cloths out on the back deck of the home. This took an amazing amount of effort because I had six drawers full of things as well as a closet full of shirts, suits and ties.

What did I do?

I picked up all of the cloths and acted as if nothing ever happened. Later that night when I saw her, I did not say a word about her irrational behavior.

My responses to her insane requests and actions protected me from several things:

  • I stayed calm and did not lose my temper. Therefore, I did not say anything that I would have regretted.
  • I removed myself just long enough to “call her bluff” or allow her to carry out her threats. By not staying away very long, I was able to recover my things before someone else took them. I think the big angel God appointed protected my guitar form being taken.

So, what were the foundational principles I used to handle this difficult situation?

  • I realized that I had no control over what she was going to do.
  • I controlled my temper and did not get out of balance just because she was extremely mad.
  • I zipped my lip and said nothing demoralizing to her and chose to not fight with her.
  • I was kind by saying that I was going to the store for a while, “goodbye.”
  • I never mentioned the incident to her ever again.

You may be thinking I am NUTS!

No, not really!

By handling her this way, I was able to maintain a certain level of “inner” peace. The old me would have bought into fighting and arguing, like we had done for many years during her outbursts. Those occasions only would leave me feeling hopeless, full of shame and emotionally upset for most of the day.

This incident rattled my cage, but did not send me into an emotional downward spiral. I actually felt strong and in control of my life for the moment, instead of feeling out of control.

Losing a person to alcoholism is no fun at all. An alcoholic may make many different kinds of threats and we should always be prepared to handle them if they follow through. If they happen to make a very serious, life-threatening insinuation, you had BETTER not play them off as not being serious. Attend to there feelings during these times and try to find them as much help as possible. An intoxicated alcoholic may just follow through with things if they are left alone. DO NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE. Find a friend who can be with them or something. Never call their bluff when they threaten to take their life.


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