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Why Do Alcoholics Decide to Quit Drinking?

Sometimes Families Can Play a Role

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Updated October 07, 2012

Concerned Couple

Concerned Couple

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If you are close to an alcoholic in your life, chances are you have tried everything to get them to see that they have a problem and need to get help. People with drinking problems decide to quit for many different reasons. For some in may be the threat of losing their job, or getting in trouble with the law. Some quit because they have developed alcohol-related health problems.

Sometimes the families of alcoholics can play a role in the decision to quit, but rarely do emotional pleas or threats work. But as Ron explains in a post to our Alcoholism / Substance Abuse Forum, sometimes it is how the subject is approached that can make a difference.

Ron's Story

All of her nagging, cajoling, fits of anger, fits of depression, one intervention, threats, and all the rest went for naught except for the dubious accumulative effect it all had on me. Even though I loved her and my son dearly, I still needed the drink.

One day she came to me while I was still somewhat aware of my surroundings and in the most incredibly unemotional way I've ever seen anyone discuss such an emotional issue, she told me that she was done fighting with me; that she loved me and wanted me to get well, and she would support me in any real attempt I might make at getting sober, but that she could no longer stand by and watch while I killed myself drinking.

Completely Unemotional, Detached

She left the decision in my court by telling me to think about it overnight, and to let her know my decision first thing in the morning so she could pack and arrange for someone to pick her up. Then, she left me sitting there.

She was, as I said, completely unemotional about it. No judgments, no blame, no accusations, nothing except the facts that she was done and ready to move on if I wasn't going to get serious about quitting. I really think it was her detached attitude that got through to me. There was nothing to argue with, nothing for the alcoholic in me to grab onto as an 'out,' no wiggle room.

We still had a bumpy road for another six years or so, with at least two more relapses on my part, but that night was when I changed from wanting to want to get sober, to getting sober.

-- Ron

Learning Detachment

Ron's wife was able to have an influence on his decision to get sober because she had finally learned detachment, and how to look at the situation objectively without getting drawn into becoming part of the problem.

She also learned that she could make choices that were healthy for her - leaving if he didn't seek help - and this time it wasn't an empty threat. Participation in Al-Anon Family Groups can give you tools to help in dealing with the alcoholic in your life. In the meantime, reading these articles may be of help.

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