Did we cause our loved one to drink?

Published by at 2:04 am under First Steps

The second of six “Introduction of Al-Anon Meeting” podcasts: Did we cause our loved one to drink? If we are not the ones with the drinking problem, why are we talking about our powerlessness over alcohol? Can we control our loved one’s drinking? Can we cure our loved one’s drinking problem?

How to locate a meeting

This is a series of six Al-Anon Family Group podcasts, especially recorded to introduce you to Al-Anon meetings.

75 comments

75 comments on “Did we cause our loved one to drink?”

  1. Lori says:

    Our son had been living on his own for 2 years. He is 23 years old and 4 weeks ago a police woman came to our house to see if he was home. It seems he abandoned his car when he slid on the ice and went off the road into a ditch. The problem was that he had been drinking and didn’t want to get caught so he left the car and got a ride to his apartment. The police woman asked if he was a drinker. My husband and I both said ‘No, no way!” We were wrong. My husband went to his apartment to see the police handcuffing him. He was taken to jail. We bailed him out the next day and he confessed that he had had a drinking problem for 2 years. He began drinking to loosen up because he is terribly shy and had trouble talking to girls. He kept drinking because he craved the ‘I don’t care” feeling it gave him and eventually his body “needed” the alcohol. He asked for our help and to move back home so he could quit drinking. We said he could move back in if he no longer drank and got the help he needed. He even said he was glad he got caught because he had tried to quit on his own and failed. He knew he would not be able to drink at home. He is attending AA meetings and seeing a substance abuse counselor and hasn’t had a drink in 4 weeks. The problem is that today is the first day he isn’t allowed to drive (he got 30 days suspension of license and 5 months restricted license). Last night he became very angry and stormed out of the house and drove away. He was angry over such a little thing that we can’t help but think that it’s more anger over not being able to drive and having to rely on us to get around (he attends college 45 minutes away from home and has to go 4 times a week). Today he is depressed and hasn’t left his room. I asked if he drank last night and he said “No, I didn’t have any money.” I asked “Would you have drank if you’d had money”. He answered, “No probably not.” He won’t talk to us anymore. At first he was talking and making alot of sense. Today he doesn’t seem to care about anything. Is this just a period of adjustment or depression over losing his license? I am trying to not take it personally. It’s hard to know what to do. I want to control the situation but realize I can’t control him. I want to trust him but don’t think I can and worry everytime he leaves the house. This is making my husband and I very depressed too. I keep wanting to talk to him just to assure myself that he’ll be OK. He seemed so positive and happy just a few days ago. He’s gained weight, his color is better, he looks healthy for the first time in years. Yet, I worry constantly. I’m glad he’s here, but wonder what he’d be doing if he hadn’t moved in. I don’t know what to do. My husband get’s angry at his “feeling sorry for himself” and said after his angry rant last night that if it hadn’t been for me he would have kicked him out. If he kicks him out where will he go? His friends are all drinkers though he did tell us he has to leave those friends behind. He lost his job of 2 years that he had just gotten a promotion in. The boss told him to get cleaned up and come back. I find myself trying to hold everything in the house together. I feel like I will crack sometime. I don’t want the two of them to be alone together because of what might happen. I hope I can hold on until he straightens himself out. My husband and I have never drank so we don’t understand how he feels. Thanks for listening.

  2. Julie says:

    I have been married for almost 24 years to an alcoholic(10 years he was in remission). For the last 7 years, he has NOT been in remission. I had to put my youngest son in an out patient recovery program last year and that is when I said enough. Then I found a book at the book store called Becoming Co-dependent. Now I stay home and there are many lonely days! Everyday I wonder what trick will he pull out of his bag? (to go out drinking)…… how will he get home? Will he come home? Now, I have found Al-Anon and at the same time I have found hope for my life to change! Now I have a list of people that I may call on for help that are in my similar situation that have the tool box that I so desperately am looking forward to using. Thanks to Al-Anon I can learn the new tools for the new year!

  3. REM says:

    It was very helpful reading comments. I have attended a 12 step program in the past with OA. My husband was an alcoholic (working) but always denied it. Then one day he needed a heart operation and was told he had to stop drinking and he did. That was 8 yrs ago and he is still abstinent but he never attended a 12 step program. Now our adult son has a drinking problem and my husband is having a tough time dealing with it. I have suggested that we both go to Al-Anon but he does not want to. The 12 step has helped me deal with my son’s problem but I still feel sad that I cannot help him. I have given him over to my higher power. However I think I will still attend an Al-Anon meeting. Have to find one. My husband and I are both seniors and are frustrated by our sons’s drinking.

  4. Audi says:

    I dont even know where to begin. I am looking for an Al-Anon group in my area, I know that i need it. I am married to a good man. One whom I fell madly in love with. After a bitter break rom my first husband due to physical abuse I swore Id never go down the ragged road again. My ex husband and I had a son together (he is now 6) who lives with each of us part time. So, my son is now around my new husband who drinks.

    Not just drinks but consumes about a 12 pack of beer each day. I cant control it, lord knows Ive tried, Ive pleaded, Ive cried, Ive threatened to leave. I am just now understanding, that this isnt my fault, I cant fix his problem and I certainly (as I hae tried) cant control it.

    I dont want my son to be around this, he doesnt see that my husband drinks, my son is happy go lucky and at least to this point hasnt been effected. My husband wont get drunk when my son is around, but will be drunk soon after he goes to bed. Its deception, a concious decision I feel to avoid hurting my son, while not caring about himself. He has actually come to me before stating he had a problem, then within the same 24 hours, changes his mind, says he can control it, and “cut back”. He has recently told me, that we wont change for anyone or anything, that he likes his beer, it is part of who he is and he wont stop.

    Im at a loss, though I know this isnt my fault, and I cant change it, I also have a hard time walking away. My son is in the home, yet I try and shield him from the influence that is there. Part of me wants to leave, the other part of me (the part that is still crazy about my husband) wont go. I dont know that I can live with this disease. Some may be able to, but the turmoil it has placed on me, and wont go away is just so hard. I am working on taking care of myself and my son first and foremost. While I do that, only god can help me make the decision if I should walk away. I dont want to watch him get sick, which is already happening, I see the signs, I notice the difference in him physically, there isnt anything else I can do for him but pray, love and set boundaries.

  5. Luella says:

    Ursula,
    I could have written what you have written, your story sounds so like mine.
    Before I even found Al-Anon I had learned not to have any ‘meaningful’ conversations with my partner when he has been drinking – I would often end up very hurt and upset, and he would not even remember the conversation the next morning!
    I know that if I asked him the same question he would also choose alcohol.
    I am struggling at the moment to know how to set boundaries – it appears to be controlling.
    I want to set not drinking and driving as a boundary, but if I told him that he would be very angry and accuse me of not trusting him and trying to control him.
    I am struggling with my reactions to his drinking – he is very conscious of my reactions – when I came home from work, determined not to let his drinking ruin my evening, I couldn’t stop my gaze falling on the open bottle as I entered the room – he noticed and was angry at my implied criticism and I had lost my good intentions for the whole evening. He always makes me feel like it’s my fault for not accepting – and the more I read, the more I realise it probably is!

  6. Ursula says:

    Gosh, I have so much to learn! This website has been so enlightening for me; I really must start attending local meetings so I can truly begin the healing process. I have come to realize that I am so ANGRY because my husband is an alcoholic! When I come home from work at night (he gets home about 2 hours before I do), the first thing I do is look at him to see if he’s been drinking (I can tell just by looking in his eyes), and I set my mood accordingly. His drinking = my anger. What kind of life is that??
    My husband and I have been together for 14 years now, and he has been an alcoholic since day 1 (although not nearly this bad in the beginning). Two days ago, we had a ‘talk” about what he needed to be happy. I asked him point blank what will it take for him to be happy. He of course wants both me in his life, and to drink. Well, that might make him happy, but it would make me miserable. So, I asked him what if he couldn’t have both of those things? What if he had to pick. He asked me if I wanted an honest answer, and I said yes. So he told me he would choose alcohol. That hurts, but I guess I wasn’t surprised. He asked me to help him find a place to live.. (typical). Eventually, the conversation petered out, and he went to bed to pass out. I’m not sure if he even remembered the conversation the next day… Sigh.. I love my husband, and want only the best for him, but his drinking stresses me out so badly; I crave peace in my life. So, I decided after the holidays, I would bail him out one final time and help him find a new place to live…
    But then, last night I googled “Al-Anon” and found this site. I read the chapter from the marriage book, and was so relieved to read the part about not letting alcohol control my life. I ordered my copy of the book right away, and can’t wait to get it and read it cover to cover. Tonight, I came home, and did not let his drinking affect my mood (well mostly!). I know I can learn how to take control of me and put the focus back on my life. I need this. I think this might just save my marriage. I know I can’t control his drinking, but if I can control my response to it, perhaps I can still be with him and have that peace I crave so much..
    It’s been really enlightening reading everyone’s comments. We’re all so similar in our experiences. I pray each of you finds the courage to get well in your own spirits. Merry Christmas!
    Ursula

  7. Donna says:

    I’ve been an Al-Anon member for many years, first because of an alcoholic daughter, as an adult child of an alcoholic. I was grateful for the podcast message when I missed my meeting tonight. The postings provided a great substitute. I’ve been married many years and still fell under the “illusion” of control as my husband and I have weathered his workaholism, our daughter’s problems, the loss of his business due to a head injury from a severe car accident and now his drinking. I was convinced that after I’d hung in all these years that we’d have it all figured out and my “Golden Years” would be a coast. Needless to say, when he started to drink alcoholically I was angry. I had to get back to meetings that I thought I didn’t need anymore. It was a necessary reminder that I didn’t cause his drinking, and can’t cure it or control it. I got on the site for Al-Anon and read an excerpt from the Al-Anon book entitled The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage and it helped me so much. He is presently sleeping off his drunk for the night and the message from the book is to do what I want to do. I needed what I read… I still feel anger, disapppointment, and resentment but with the help of Al-Anon I cannot let those feelings interfere with my real growth as a person spiritually and emotionally. What a concept! A life of my own! The message that I got and need to repeat as my mantra is “I refuse to let his drinking be the most important thing in my life…I REFUSE TO LET HIS DRINKING BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN MY LIFE! The best gift I can give him is to turn him over to his Higher Power. As they say in the program, I can’t, God can, I’ll let Him. Thanks for sharing. For those who are afraid of meetings, don’t be. It’s a safe place to share your grief over this disease.

  8. clo says:

    Today my husband found out that his mother (my mother in law) is a secret drinker and has beeen for years. I am so shocked and just can’t get my head around it. I feel betrayed by her and all the lies. She looks after my 2 little girls while I work and drives them to and from school etc. I can’t say I’ve noticed her drunk but as I now re-analyise the situation maybe she does and I just think she’s being funny towards me……

    As my husband only found out today, I haven’t spoken with her yet and don’t know what to do or say. She will deny it I know because her husband says she has an answer for everything, but I have to protect my children and need advice as to where to start. I don’t want to make things worse.

  9. Stacy says:

    I just got through reading the comments. I love my husband and finally understand: I am not the cause, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it. I have to start attending some meetings because I know I am going into a depression. I don’t know what to do for myself right now and I think the first step is to attend meetings and read. everything I can get my hands on. My husband will not go into a program and just continues to drink. I refuse invitations from friends. He rather sit at home and drink. He hides bottles and drives. My stomach is constantly in knots. I put on brave face when I walk outside my door but I’m crying with despair on the inside. I need help for myself and I hope that going to meetings will help. We will see?

  10. Debbie says:

    I feel like I was led here. I understand things more now. I also understand I am not alone. My son has had 2 dui and still drinks and drives. He lost one family (a wife and son thur divorce), now he has a girl 11 yrs old and just found out another one on the way. This wife has tried everything but as you know it doesn’t work. H strightend up for a while and joined the church worship team and is involved in a childrens ministry. Now I am not sure if I should ask him to step down or what. However I do know I didn’t cause it and I can’t stop it. He is 34 yrs old.

  11. annie says:

    I feel better after just reading all your comments. I first came to Al-Anon after my husband and I had separated. My husband was the alcoholic in my life and I was filled with despair. After continuing to go to many regular meetings, I started feeling better . The love and support that I received from fellow members was amazing and helped me heal. I drifted away for a few years. I have just recently come back as now I have a grown daughter who I have been trying to save from herself since she was 14. She doesn’t see any problems with her life, even though her friend’s are dropping her fast and she has been kicked out of 3 places to live because of her drinking. I find myself consumed with worry and fear. It takes everything in me to not call her and ask questions. I pray for her a lot but I still am having a hard time of letting go. I have bankrupted myself in trying to get her to see the light and now I have no more money to give her and I have become sick physically myself. I have hit my own bottom now and I am willing to grasp everything that this program has to offer once again. It’s just too bad that I had to let it get to this point for me. My daughter knows how much I love her and want her to be happy and well. However, I know that it has to be her decision, not mine and the more I don’t enable her, the better chance she has. Thankyou all. I will keep in touch.

  12. chip says:

    Hi – thanks for the comment. It’s a struggle not knowing what to do with a drinker as a spouse.

    I’ve read all the comments on the board. Many of us have a lot in common. But most cannot help any other in this room except to give a brief reassurance that we are not alone or crazy.

    I’m going to attend an Al-Anon meeting today. It’s time to take the next step to find some solutions.

    Good luck everyone.

  13. Molly says:

    There is no Al-Anon meeting today, so forgive me as I try to work this out.
    My husband has been an alcoholic for 6 years, as long as we have been married. I met him 13 years ago and he was my life.
    He finally went to rehab and came back to me as the person I once loved. He has been out for 3 days and did not come home last night. it is 10:32 am and he is not in jail or in a hospital. I can safely assume, he binged.
    I have been to Al-Anon but not as often as I should. I partcipated in family week and we had a good deal of therapy. My dissapointment is great. The rollercoaster of my life is weighing on me this morning. Do you finally put the foot down and kick him out, or is a relapse acceptable?
    My confusion, hurt and dissapointment is overwhelming and I feel cheated. I hate alcohol and everything it has brought to my life. How can I not look at him and just think he doesnt care, he lied about everything and the whole thing is a sham.
    I am so angry. I am so angry. I cant control it, I cant cure it and i didnt cause it. But this morning, i dont think I want to live with it any longer, despite it being tied to some one i love. He is not the same peson, and seeing fleeting glimpses of who he was doesnt help, it only creates more dissapointment. I think love is about trust and safety with some you you have chosen to be with in this big wide world. I need to learn to forgive myself for not choosing the right one. I made a big mistake and have tried to make the most of what I had. Come to find, I have nothing.

  14. Marissa says:

    I met and fell in love with the man of my dreams – He swept me off my feet, treated me like a queen, courted me and wooed me – Completely head over heels I fell, wanted to be with this man all of the time, love him and cherish him..

    When we first met he gave the appearance of being a social drinker. I was working as a bartender in a pub and he came in to see me often – I thought he was interested in me and not the booze.. As he courted me and I learned more about his family history of alcoholism and alcoholic tendencies I actually quit my job at the bar because I thought it would be helpful for him long-term.

    He always made comments like ‘ I’m warning you, you don’t want to be with me, I’m trouble..” .. But young and in love I ignored this disclaimer and continued on in the romantic tryst that I had painted. He loved me more than anyone ever had, he wanted to know everything about me, trusted me, valued my strength and opinions and cherished my feelings and emotions.

    Fast forwarding to us now, my outlook is completely changed. He would trade any night with me to stay out late drinking until he is sick with his lowlife friends. 2, 3 times a week – He drinks while we drive, in the truck in the cup holder and yells at me if I argue with him about it. If I ask him to spend a quiet night home with me he makes up an excuse, about helping out a friend so he can leave – tells me to call him but doesn’t answer the phone and is gone for 6, 7 hours at a time leaving me at home worried, trying to find inner strength so I don’t collapse under the pain and frustration. He convinces me that its my fault, that I’m not helpful, I’m selfish , I put too much pressure on him, I don’t let him go out enough, I smother him, I nag him too much, I’m a bitch all the time, I expect too much from him, etc.

    On our anniversary one of his friends supposedly needed help so he decided instead of the dinner I planned with my nice table setting and rib eye steak to go out to a bar, then a strip club with his friends – leaving me alone with my soul broken in two. The night passed, I watched some television then fell asleep with tears stained on my cheeks.

    He can be such a wonderful man, but scares me – he really does. He seems completely out of control, and malicious, manipulative. But I feel hes started to convince me that I am always the problem. I know this isn’t the real him. The real him stands up for me, loves everything about me and protects and takes care of his family and me, his soon to be wife.

    And finally, the part that scares me the most is that I’m pregnant – just found out about a week ago. I don’t want to tell him because hes told me in the past that he would love to raise our children, love to have kids as soon as we can. I’m only 21, though – and I don’t think I’m ready to have a child in this turbulent situation. I can’t do it – He, himself was raised by an alcoholic father and it has left irreperable damage – I can’t continue the cycle.

  15. Annette says:

    It has actually taken me a long time to realize that I did not cause any of the alcoholics in my to drink. I had always thought that I had did something to cause the person to drink, like I was not a good enough wife, niece, cousin,and mother or friend to the alcoholic but Thank God and Al-Anon I finally found out that I did not cause any of the alcoholics to drink or to do whatever their drug of choice was or is. There is still times that I ask myself what could I do to help this or that one and I know that I can not help them but I can help myself. And I can make myself a better healthier person and still love the alcoholics in my life with out feeling guilty for their problem. As long as I keep going to Al-Anon meetings every week I will get better myself. I think that some of my self-esteem is coming back and some self-respect which I lost many years ago is finally back and that feels really good for a change. But I would also like to find an on-line meeting because of my work schedule changes every week so that way I have a back up for if I have to miss any of my regular meetings for work and maybe I’ll be able to keep myself sane and serene until I can get back to my regular meetings. So if anyone can help me that would be appreciated very much. Thank You.

  16. Sandy says:

    I am writing this because I have an adult daughter, who is the wife of an alcoholic. She is at the stage in her life where she is now living with me because of her husband’s alcoholism.

    She has a seven year old son who has special needs and yet she is drawn to her husband even though he is now homeless and will do nothing major to help himself.

    How do I help her to see that she is living in a fantasy world. She feels that IF he gets major help, and goes through rehab and gets a job, they will have the family she wants.

    However, he does not see the need to support his family by getting employment and keeping it, and by doing something about his drinking==he drinks every day.

    HOW DO I HELP HER?

  17. Annette says:

    I’m in my second marriage to an alcoholic. I thought that after the first marriage ended that I knew better than to let myself fall for another alcoholic but I didn’t and that was disappointing to me because I feel like I let my children down because I told them that I was not going to let another alcoholic come into their lives. And now I am struggling with making amends to the people that I may have hurt but most of all the biggest struggle is making amends with myself, I have not figured out how to or what I have to make amends to myself for but I know that in time my higher power will let me know and then I will be on the right track. I am grateful that I have found an Al-Anon group that I feel comfortable with because I have felt alone for so long and now I know that I am not alone and I know that there is a light at the end of my dark tunnel but I have to get there on my own with the help and guidance of my higher power and the Al-Anon group that I attend weekly. I am learning everyday how to live with the alcoholic in my life and learning how to detach with love which I never thought possible. So I am very grateful for Al-Anon. I know that I still have a lot of work to do but I can only live one day at a time. I also relized that I have actually had alcoholics and drug addicts in my life my whole life so I am also coming to understand that being around that stuff my whole life that I basically only knew that way of life so that is why I am in the situation that I am in now. Do not get me wrong I do ” LOVE” my husband but I DO NOT LIKE OR LOVE HIS DRINKING but I Do Not Want To Get A Divorce. Because I know that he is actually a good person who has a disease that I can not cure and that I did not cause and I sure can not control it like I tried to do so very often. Living with it everyday can take a lot out of the non-alcoholic and the rest of the family who sees it everyday. I had an oppurtunity to talk to my husbands older sister with out my husband knowing what we were talking about and told her that her brother is an alcoholic and that I am going to Al-Anon meetings weekly to help myself because I can not help her brother with his disease. I also told her that he is good at hiding it from the rest of his family. She asked me when his drinking started to get out of control and I told her that it was after the deaths of his father and mother three years ago because their parents died with in a month of one another and it was difficult on all eight of his brothers and sisters and the rest of his family. My husband is A depressed alcoholic. So I have found it difficult to watch him deal with his grief with the alcohol. I am hoping that one day he will seek help for himself before he lets the alcohol kill him.

  18. tamara says:

    My mom blames me for her problem, but i kno i did not cause it. She has been drinking since before i was born. i got her to admit that she drank while she was pregnant with me. drinking turns my mom into a completly different person. My dad recently passed away, and as young as i am(15) i need my mom. But drinking causes her not to be able to do so.she just keeps pushing me futher away. she would rather be able to live in her car and spend the money that my dad left behind for us on her problem then to get a house. this past summer i have had to worry about where i am going to sleep that night, but thanks to my sister and friends i didnt. she manipulated me my whole life and i am not dealing with that n o more. now i have moved in with my friend her husband and daughter and the are going to try to get gaurdianship of me. without them i would have dropped out of school and would be in lots of trouble. I have learned from my moms mistakes. i want to make sure my kids do not have to deal with a manupulating acholic. she has lied some much she doesnt kno the truth from lies. i see my self acting in ways she does, and it drives me crazy. i think the best thing to do is to give her all the space she needs and let her realize what she has done to me. Then for her to get help. i love my mom to death but drinking has always been the problem and for are relationship to get better she will have to stop.

  19. SA says:

    I have finally come to a point in my life where I finally cannot handle my alcoholic anymore. I am 28 years old, just came out of a divorce about 2 years ago and entered into a, as I thought, wonderful relationship with a new person. About 6 months into the relationship, I saw alcohol taking more and more of him and I kept finding more and more excuses to avoid it in my head. I grew up the child of an alcoholic so avoidance was easy for me. I never addressed any of the issues I had with my dad, so when I started facing them as a partner in a relationship, my first instinct was to avoid.

    Eventually, I started kicking his friends out, pouring out bottles, yelling, screaming, crying, begging….anything to try to make him love me more than the bottle. Finally, after my 2nd therapy session (yes, I finally started seeing a therapist to help myself), I had the courage to leave him alone for a weekend and try to learn to be happy with myself for a little while. Three days into my “plan to be away,” he called me to come over at night because he was “messed up.” When I got there, he was so drunk and high of drugs that he needed to be taken to the hospital. I convinced him to go and when we got there, I found out how bad his addiction really was. I had no clue about the drugs and blamed myself for not seeing how bad the situation really was. I finally broke down and called his family and they admitted him to the hospital for a few days.

    He listened to all the treatment options and said all the right things. He’s a very charming man and can convince an Eskimo to buy ice, so everyone saw he was getting better but me. I went from anger to tears in a matter of seconds. I stayed by his side the entire time he was at the hospital. I finally went to work today and he also got released today. His father dropped him off and I went by after work and he was already drinking. He said he wasn’t and that he’d “found” it and was going to dump it out later. He left angry and I called and told his parents everything.

    I don’t know if I’ve done the right thing or wrong thing, but I do know that I’m scared to death. I’m so scared that he will die and I will feel at fault because I wasn’t there to save him. I know I can’t do this on my own and started researching Al-Anon and saw the postings on this site. I wanted to write my story because I don’t have anyone who can understand me right now and I feel so alone, hurt, mad, scared, and I believe every other emotion in the book.

    Please pray that I can find the strength and courage to get myself help and learn how to help him the best way I can, even if it is no help at all. I love you all and thank you for writing your stories. It has given me comfort to know that I’m not alone.

  20. bec says:

    i just need help. i don’t know how to think of myself first. i recently asked my husband to leave and he did. we live in the same apartment building but in different apartments, which still allows me to see him drunk. after he left, i realized how much time i spent worrying and being scared because he was an abusive drunk. i never knew when he would come home drunk. so i was always filled with anxiety and still am, i think i’m going crazy. we were married 26 years, and i was always taking care of him……….ALWAYS. and i took care of everyone else, my son, my mother, and was so busy i didn’t have time to dwell on his problem. all i knew was that he wasn’t stepping up to be the provider that he should have been and as a result we lost our house to foreclosure, and because he was in and out of trouble so often, we had no money, and had to sacrifice a lot. now, i have a mouth full of bad teeth because i can’t afford a dentist, i never go to the doctor and i need to. i don’t have any friends or close family i am totally alone. i don’t know what to do with myself now, i worked in the medical profession for 25 years, and am now on disability due to several illnesses that i acquired. how do i focus on myself instead of him and all the heartache he has caused me over many years.

  21. Doris says:

    Marriage is complicated even in the best of times. Add alcohol addiction, and the entire family is involved in chaos, insanity, and confusion. After about one and a half years in Al-Anon, I understand that I didn’t cause the disease, I can’t cure it, and I can’t control it. But even armed with that knowledge I continue to react to the alcoholic behavior too much. Hardest for me is the lonliness, and loss I feel, because even though I have a husband, I don’t have a partner. I know it takes time, I know I’ve gotten better. It takes lots of planning to keep out of the mess created by someone elses drinking, I’ve heard it called ‘Plan B’ in some meetings. Little by little, I find ways to set up boundries that protect my emotional, and physical well-being. Slowly, I’m making friends and finding activities to fill some of my time. Things to make me smile, things to make me think. Al-Anon is helping me to learn to focus on me, and to take care of myself first, because I was the one heading for the insame asylum, not my spouse. I have children, what good would I be to them there.

  22. lorie&patti says:

    No we didn’t cause our loved one(s) to drink…we didn’t Cause it, we can’t Cure it and we can’t Control it..all we can do is work on ourselves as we both have found out by regularily attending Al-Anon meetings at least once a week! at first we were confused, afraid and blamed ourselves..but now we know to “Keep the Focus on Me”!

    If you are new go to at least 6 meetings and you will slowly begin to feel better about yourself even if your loved one is still drinking. No one can change another person. The disease worsens as the person continues to drink..if they want to continue I don’t want to continue being sick with them. We believe it’s a family disease …it’s our turn to get better. There is hope…Al-Anon works if you work it! So Work It Your Worth It!

  23. chip says:

    i love my wife. i’m not sure if she’s an alcoholic or not. this is new to me. i do know that her drinking bothers me.

    how do i determine where she falls in the spectrum of drinking? what resources can i read?

    she doesn’t drink every day but she does drink herself to the point of being sick 1x per month…..this past week, she drank until she was drunk 4x (a new high)…..

    we are having marriage issues. she has blamed me for the drinking in the past….and since we have started having more significant issues, she really blames me. Yes, i’m not easy myself…..but i don’t think her binging is my fault.

    lately, i’ve realized that her actions may have a negative effect on our kids so I know it’s my job to step out and figure out what to do.

    confused & guilty – i feel like i’m betraying my trust with her posting this message!

  24. Debra says:

    I have had to live with alcoholism my whole life, first with my father, I lost my mother at an early age, which I believe the stress of his problem put her in a early grave. Then a few years later I lost him too. I have two brothers both alcoholics,and one I have not seen for several years, but his problem is drugs, now I’m married to an alcoholic. I just don’t seem to know how to stop this cycle. I don’t want to see my children turn out like my husband. I have hated alcohol my whole life, but when I was a kid it wasn’t talked about at all, so for some years I had to just live with it. Now I don’t want to. I love my husband, but our ideas are not the same. He wants to be the life of the party at a bar and I want to be a normal family, you know get up early, go to work rested, come home, make dinner, watch some tv and go to bed. But my whole life revolves around alcohol. Is tonight a drinking night, because if the answer to that question is yes, then all of us are up until my husband passes out. He is a very angry drunk, and right in your face when is his drinking. I tried the I didnt cause, I can’t cure, and I can’t control it. I guess maybe I need a sponsor and some meetings before I can put that in everyday life. Because I find myself slipping back in to old patterns. I really want to break this hold alcohol has on my life, and my childrens’ life.

  25. Jen says:

    Just a note to Chris that she has told my story! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one! I find the comments people leave helpful, however I am to affraid to take the next step and attend a meeting.

  26. Tracy says:

    Thanks to all of you for your posts, Chris, I have a very similar situation as yours just with out the full time children. Sadly there seems to be a huge community of those of us, I guess that this is the first step in getting help for ourselves.

    I will keep reading, make sure that I remember that I did not cause it, I can’t control it nor can I cure it. I want to thank all of you for your words, we are all not alone.

  27. Amy says:

    I can relate to much of what was said in this podcast. I have lived with Alcoholism my entire life. Al-Anon has brought me hope and choices. I don’t have to be affected my someone else’s drinking unless I choose to do so. I am very glad to have found Al-Anon before I start a family. I was terrified to treat my husband or children like I was treated. I am breaking the cycle, with the help of other members and my higher power. Serenity is slowly making a place in my life and I will keep coming back! Thank you!
    Amy

  28. chris says:

    I clearly am not as enlightened as the rest of you. I guess I am jealous. I have read CoDependent No More and even got separated for a few months. It feels so borderline for me, my husband is not someone who gets drunk everynite but needs to drink every nite. There are also these God awful nights of bingeing. That is what I cant stand. Our children see it and it’s only a matter of time when its one of them. I love him so much and when we are good we are great! But when its bad I just wanna call it quits. But then what..watch my kids suffer because we are apart and they don’t understand.

  29. audrey says:

    where i live there is no Al-Anon close by but i think i really could use it. i finally divorced my alcoholic husband after 3 years. i thought it might make him “straighten up”. now i feel this enormous guilt that has driven me into a deep depression. he is now homeless, still drinking and recently earned his 3rd dui in texas. (probably headed to prison for awhile). he was so successful and handsome when i met him. i am grieving so much and i just dont know where to go from here.

  30. H.S says:

    I finally found the courage to admit to my father about my husband’s drinking. This came under the banner of courage to “change the things that can be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference”. I cannot control my husband’s drinking, and even now I have problems accepting that he is an alcoholic, because he has periods of sobriety even though his binges cause huge problems for me. I could choose not to let the secret fester any longer, and I did. Of course I have no control over where this will take me, but I will try to let my Higher Power take care of that. I can honestly say that I feel a bit of weight lift off my shoulders tonight, and I want to thank all of you and Al-Anon for enabling this to happen. When I get home, I will try and go to my regular meeting as soon as possible and do my first formal sharing, in order to be of service to others.

  31. sandladyvb says:

    I had to accept that the drinkers in my life were alcoholic. It doesn’t mean that I have to “like it.” I had to get out of denial by admitting to myself that their drinking was causing me problems. It is not hopeless. Alcoholism can be arrested but it cannot be cured. If an adult relative or friend had diabetes, they would need to take care of themselves instead of thinking everyone else is responsible for their condition.

    Once I started admitting the drinking was causing me problems and great discomfort, I stopped trying to control or stop the alcoholics’ drinking. No amount of threatening (divorce, “I’ll never speak to you again,” ” I hate you” kind of stuff) works. When someone wants to drink, they will really drink whether or not I want them to do so.

    I tried being nice about the drinking (buying it for him so he’d stay home and not drive), ignoring it hoping it would go away, and then I tried being nasty about the drinking. None of these approaches worked. I just became an angry, enraged, fearful, and depressed person. But what I can do is to let the drinker experience the consequences of their actions. I had to stop trying to protect the alcoholics who were all adults – my father and my husband. They were not children.

    I had to learn to get the focus on myself and my own behavior. As an outcome, I was not only helping myself but also the alcoholic as I was no longer enabling them.

    I urge you to keep attending Al-Anon and you will come to understand how the principles of our program will help you.

  32. grieving mother says:

    The younger of my two sons died July 29 at age 33. I am grieving and feeling guilty. I have 16 years sober and about 6 mos in Al-Anon. In 3 days I will begin working the steps with a sponsor. And I am stuck on step 1. When my son was 6 years old, I left the two boys with their father. I was looking for someone/something to fill up the void that I now understand was the God Shaped Hole. I was such a failure as a wife, mother, and child of God, I just up and ran. And fell into the bottle. Now, having lost my baby, I think of how much I loved him when he was little. I wonder, how could I have left such a beautiful, innocent child? My years as a practicing alcoholic were hell. I did make my amends to my sons. The one who died was deeply into booze and drugs and his life was hell, also. He leaves 2 beautiful children whose mother is absent because of drugs. He lived the last 6 six years 8 hours from me. I would try to visit, but he always had ‘the flu’ when he was just plain messed up and couldn’t face me. I pray my higher power will help me let go of this incredible guilt and sadness. I sponsor other ladies in both programs. We live in a very small town. Only have 4 ladies in Al-Anon, so the choice for women sponsors is very limited. I am afraid to be gut level honest with a long term member of Al-Anon. I am used to being the caregiver and perceiver of control. I worry that I won’t ‘get it right’ and she will call me on it. And I will never get the chance to help my son live a happy life. God is in control. He knows what He is doing. He will help me get past this awful time. He will use me to help others, and I am willing. I hurt something awful, but that is normal. Somehow, asking for the guilt to be taken away seems like a copout, as tho it is too ‘easy’ that I deserve to be punished for not giving my sons the upbringing they deserved. This is so hard. Please pray for me. And my grandchildren who are being taken care of by the ex-husband I treated so badly. I made my amends to him after our son’s funeral and I could see the peace in his face. So, already there has been some good to come of the terrible tragedy. Thanks for letting me vent. GM

  33. CAl says:

    Dear Amanda
    Reading your comment hit me right between the eyes. I could have written that when I was 14!
    I can understand how it must hurt you to see someone you love, hurting and drinking.
    As I am an alcoholic myself – and as my mother is an active alcoholic – I can share with you my own experience.
    The truth about alcoholism is that it makes us extremely selfish. Alcoholism is a disease. It tells the alcoholic that she/he HAS to drink – it is vital – and once they drink – they are allergic to it and become someone else. Its kind of like a deamon that sits in the alcoholics head and whispers “have a drink come on” the voice can be so loud that the alcoholic doesnt feel they can choose not to drink.

    The important thing for me when seeing my mother has been to seperate my mother from the alcoholism. In glimpses, my mother would be loving, caring etc – but when the disease had taken over she would be so selfpitying, demanding, impossible, insane, angry, crying and wanting me to listen to her, comfort her fix her feelings of guilt.

    I moved out when i was 13, at that time she already really wanted to just die – I have tried everything with her, until i started drinking myself – to disseapear from the responsibility i FELT i had. The truth is, it is noone’s responsibility to “save” the alcoholic!

    My mother loves me i know – but she cant show me because she is so sick. I need to look after myself – and that means seeking help – for instance in Alateen which is a group of teenagers that help each other to live a life free from guilt and shame.
    I can learn how to live a life where, its not that i dont care, but i can have a happy life even though the one I love is drinking and hurting. I dont have to feel guilty for being happy – or for not saving my mother.

    I wish you all the best – and remeber the 3 C’s (look above)

  34. gin says:

    i am so grateful for Al-Anon my husband is a dry drunk very angry and my life was awful before Al-Anon it is teaching me to take care of myself and to not except unexceptable behavior.

  35. Ruth H says:

    I married a man who had a problem when I met him. He had been married before and said that his wife didn’t understand him. I felt sure that I could help him. For several years I felt that things were ok and we had lots of good times together with our two sons. As time went on the drinking got worse but I still felt that the biggest problem was the lack of money that he brought home. I worked full time and made sure that the rent was payed etc and that there was food on the table for all of us. I was very resentful that he wasn’t doing what should be done.

    It took some time in Al-Anon for me to realize that the alcoholic had a disease and had no control over his drinking. It isn’t easy to watch someone drinking themselves to death and not being able to do anything about it. He was in and out of many facilites with the intention of trying to do something about the drinking- all to no avail. He was not abusive to me but I put up with an awful lot of torment. I kept thinking that if he would only stop drinking then everything would be ok.

    I did learn that we do not have to accept unacceptable behaviour.

    Al-Anon taught me that I have to learn to look aftermyself first. If I am not healthy then I am not going to be able to help the alcoholic if they do ask for help.

    My higher power has been with me all of the way and I have learned to ask him for help and be prepared to listen for the answers. Al-Anon has saved my life in so many ways. I will be forever thankful for all of the help that I have gained from the program and my very large Al-Anon Family.
    Keep coming back>

  36. GB says:

    If it hadnt been for AB, my sisterinlaw who kept saying that
    the two of us needed to go to Al-Anon I probably still would be without Al-Anon. Her & I married brothers who had came from an alcoholic background, but it didnt show up until after we both were married for some 7 or 8 yrs., then it happened.
    About the same time for us both. Thru the years, we have
    been there for each other and seen our children go thru so much pain and anger. Now with the help of Al-Anon (3 months so far) I have hope. The wonderful people at the meetings listen and show their concern like I’ve known them for a lifetime. The Al-Anon literature, especially, “Alcoholism, A Merry go round Named Denial” is wonderful. I look forward
    to my Tuesday meetings and learning all that i can from these wise and helpful people.Of course my Higher Power
    has been my #1 guide in all that I do and I rely on Him each and every day to keep me focused “One day at a time” and to stay ”FOCUSED ON MYSELF”. My only regret is that I didnt attend these meetings sooner!

  37. lise says:

    I came to visit my 80-year old parents who are caring for my chronic-alcoholic sister.She had been sober for 12 whole days(a long time for her!) before I came. As soon as I arrived, she began drinking, and when I confronted her, she sad that she just had to drink if I came to visit(she feels unfavorably compared to me). It is just tearing our hearts out. We have been considering what would happen if we ask her to leave(she has no job or money),but it is so hard to let someone go, to feel that we might cause her death by putting her out on the street.Are there shelters for people like this? We keep reminding ourselves of the three C’s, then we play Scrabble – at least it’s the one thing we have control over – which letters to play and when.Thanks for this meeting!

  38. Judy says:

    Through Al-Anon I came to believe that I had to accept alcoholism as a disease, and that I could not control, or cure the alcoholic. Nor was it my place to do so. This was difficult for me to accept, but, I had tried the alternative, fighting it, and trying to control other people for years, and all that did was to make me really sick. I finally got sick enough, that I surrendered my alcoholic to the care of my Higher Power. I came to realize that trying to control alcoholism or another person, or really anything but myself, is futile, and will get me nowhere. But it will make me very miserable.

    I don’t want the alcoholic to drink, but I cannot change that, only the alcoholic can. I really don’t want them to be sick or to have a disease, but I cannot control that, any more than I could if they had cancer.

    So, one day at a time, I accept the things I cannot change, which, over the years, has grown to emcompass just about everything except for my actions.

    I used to think that accepting alcoholism meant that I approved of the behavior. Now, it means to me that I know I cannot change anyone else but myself. Approval, or disapproval don’t play any part at all in my acceptance, because I believe it is a disease, and that the alcoholic is not drinking to affect me, they are drinking because he/she is an alcoholic.

    What I can do, is focus on myself, my responsiblities, my feelings, my actions, and what my Higher Power wants me to do right now by going to meetings, reasoning things out with other Al-Anon members and reading Conference Approved Literature.

  39. Karens says:

    Yes, I know the smell. Thank you for sharing the 3 C’s. I didn’t cause it. I didn’t cause it. I didn’t cause it. I can’t control it. I can’t control it. I can’t control it. WHat was the last one? Oh yes most important I cannot cure it. I cannot cure it . I cannot cure it.

  40. Debra says:

    I’ve tried all the steps to stop my husband drinking, so how can I know just except it like it’s nothing? The smell of it alone makes me ill, the abuse I have to take because it is not worth me saying just go ahead and drink that. Is that also enabling him? I except that I have no control over his drinking, that is his choice but how can I just sit back, except it and not do anything about it. Although sitting here typing this I just realized that nothing I have done so far has worked. So since I can’t attend meetings in person this web site it the only help I have.

  41. Amanda says:

    I’ve tried to make my mother stop drinking all of my life. I used to take her huge boxes of wine and stop on them in the backyard until they were flat as a pancake. I tried to treat my mom the way she treated me but she told me that she didn’t care. Which is the truth she dosn’t care about anything. I don’t know how to help her. She’s my mother and I can see almost feel the pain inside her. I just wish she didn’t take that pain out on me. She been an alcholic since before I was born. Im only 14 now. My father is still with her even though I know he cant stand her. “I can’t split the family in two. I would never leave you alone with her.” Is what he says his reasoning is. I love my dad he is my hero!

  42. Judy says:

    Al-Anon Family Groups has a web site that lists all meetings by state.
    Below is the web address: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
    Click on “English” and then find meetings arounr Knoxville listed by state. Best wishes for recovery in Al-Anon, one day at a time.

  43. marilyn says:

    please list beginners meeting place around knoxville, tn

  44. marilyn says:

    thank you for your answers

  45. LF says:

    Being in Al-Anon, attending meeting, reading the literature, and keeping connected to others that have been effected by someone else’s drinking provides me with tools and hope that I will be O.K.. By contiuning to work on myself I find a Higher Power and others struggling with the issue to help me understand the disease. Then I keep coming and learn I have choices that I’m able to make after I’m learned about the disease and what Al-Anon has to offer.

  46. Paulette says:

    I can;t accept the drinking. It is making me physically sick. No matter what I say or do it still continues. He knows what it is doing to me, so he hides the alcohol and does not drink in front of me at home, he goes out to the shed or basement. That doesn’t make it better. What should I do? He his not physically abusive but if I say anything he is verbally abusive and threatens to leave. I love him but I feel myself slipping into depression.

  47. Kay says:

    We must accept it before we can make a decision on whether to stay or leave. This program teaches us how to accept the things we cannot change. It isn’t an easy process and it doesn’t happen overnight. We must truly understand the disease of alcoholism before we can accept that it is a disease. At no time does the program suggest that you stay or leave. Once we accept that it is a disease, then we know we didn’t cause it, we can’t control it and we certainly can’t cure it. This frees us to begin to think clearly and make rational decisions.

  48. Mark K says:

    The relief I felt at my first meeting was both immediate and profound. The experienced and compassionate people at that meeting – many who had situations much more dire than mine – assured me that “I didn’t cause it, I couldn’t control it, and I can’t cure it” (the “three c’s”). Clearly they had found a way to live their lives and find both happiness and serenity whether their alcoholic was drinking or not. How could they do that? I wanted what they had, so I kept coming back to figure out how I could get it too.

    I had spent the previous 18 years being responsible for my daughter’s upbringing. How could I accept her drug/alcohol abuse and cutting? It was a fine distinction, but I ultimately learned to accept that she had a disease called “addiction” (“…accept the things I cannot change…”) but that I did NOT have to accept the consequences of the disease (“…courage to change the things I can…”). The concepts of “detaching with love” and “boundaries” – and applying them to me and my life – have been two of the most valuable gifts I have received by “working the program”.

  49. Tedie says:

    Until we accept our powerlessness over the behavior of others, we are doomed to live a life of regret. Our acceptance is the first step in regaining the power that we do have. And that is to determine our own happiness, whether the alcoholic is drinking or not.

  50. FT says:

    It almost sounds like one has to accept the drinking, allow it to go on even if you cant stand it and go on with your life and continue to live w this spouse that you love? How can you just accept it?

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