1. Health

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

Most Emailed Articles

Financial Stress

Readers Respond: Have You Been Playing a Role in the Life of an Alcoholic?

Responses: 340


Updated October 09, 2014

Enabler no more...

I have now realized that I have been an enabler to my alcoholic older brother for the past 4 years. I now pray to God for the strength to let go and hopefully he will realize on his own what the drinking has done to his life. His behavior has taken a toll on my mental well being as I am the only one left in the family who cares and worries about him. My biggest fear is that if I stop "bailing him out " when he messes up then he will drink himself to death and I will be to blame (I know it sounds silly). Every time my phone rings I think it's the police telling me they found him dead in a ditch somewhere! I think I could be suffering from mild depression and though this is very evil to say - sometimes I wish he was no longer there because I don't know how long I can go on like this. Don't get me wrong I love my brother but his alcoholic behavior and unwillingness to change has damaged me. I think its only God that can help him and I will pray for him till he changes but for now am done!

A life of substance abuse in partners

My father, grandfather ex husband and now boyfriend have been substance abusers, the first 2 are deceased and the second 2 are still in my life one way or the other, I am not a substance user yet. I continue the merry-go-round with these people. after reading articles on here I have been all 3 enablers. Domestic violence is another big side affect of the substance abuse, in the forms of mental, emotional and psychological abuse. his actions are not my responsibility and this site has been a hard lesson to learn. I thought I was helping him by drinking with him or telling him off, or giving him a reason to not drink any more. or being sympathetic after the binge. Instead I have made it worse.


I have been married for around 4 years now and pregnant with my first child. I live in a typical Indian joint family setup with my in-laws. My father in law is an alcoholic, well not an alcoholic in the true sense of the term, that is, he drinks sometimes but when does he gets violently abusive, even towards me for the most silly of excuses. And he won't stop screaming and abusing and cursing. My husband and mother in law live in their blissful world of denial and are not willing to acknowledge that this now poses harm to me and now my unborn child. They consider this a phase which will pass away. However, at 62 years of age, i would hardly call this a phase in his life. My husband will not move out of the house as they are financially dependent on him and he wants to be a good duty bound son and live with them and take care of them. I am living with this, don't know for how long. I don't have any other place to go to.. or anyone else to rely on.
—Guest sanjukta

A brother's sad choice

The role I have played in my older brother's alcoholism is that I won't have a relationship with him. I do not look up to him. I don't call him. He is welcome here, but not if he's been drinking. I won't have it around my kids. His drinking has ruined his life. I will not let it ruin mine. It is sad, but because i love him, I will not stand by and watch him run his life into a hopeless ditch. I pray for him daily. I am sad for the relationships he has ruined, for the kids who don't trust him, for the mother who feels more hurt than pride in him. He has done irreversible harm to his body, his mind, his spirit, his family. The role I play is that I won't play. I won't be an enabler. I want him to be whole and complete, and because I want what is best for him, he will get no money, no sympathy, no place to live. My heart will break, but what he needs is more important than how I feel. It doesn't always feel good to do the right thing, but love always does what is right.
—Guest sister


I have been planning my escape from my alcoholic fiance, for months now. He has been sober for 9 months and has become verbally, emotionally and even now physically abusive. It is an every day thing, where I don't know when to expect it . He has such a short fuse that the situation can blow up at any minute. I can not and will not deal with this anymore. He took enough self-esteem from me.
—Guest manja


I have been with my wife for a couple of years now. i have a 6 year old step daughter, and we have been trying to have another. I don't believe that she will get pregnant because she drinks so much. I used to drink with her a lot and don't even have time to if I wanted to. She doesn't come home at night and stays at guys' houses after working at a bar. She won't let me look at her phone because guys send her sexual messages and she continues to talk to them. She doesn't spend time with her daughter anymore and I can't handle it anymore. I left about a week ago to stay with my parents and told her she needs to stop all of this or I'm leaving her. It's hard because I love her so much but I can't live like this anymore. I love you wife, I hope you can change
—Guest me


I have tried to accept, to shoulder more of the responsibility, to let him figure it out. To have faith. Maybe the faith should lay where he puts himself after I and the kids have endured some of the most awful insults. Put to shame because we want a hot shower in Nebraska's mid-winter, because a kid is out of lunch money at school. This kid feels so ashamed to be alive, as we all did, that he asked a friend's parent if he could live there. Of course they call to ask and he gets verbally assaulted again. The sexual partners, the hoodlums he took as friends, the (well suspected) crimes, the falling from the ladder and now not wanting to work. Actually having the nerve to tell us all that we get to take care of him. The stealing of family money to go out with prostitutes, even when there was hardly any food in the house. Plain old making us feel guilty for living and lying and cheating everyday. He even said he wanted to start killing for money, then he wouldn't have to work.

How Can You Believe?

How can that woman say that she read the posts and no one has faith? Most of these people stuck it out for years in hopes that the situation will change. The only problem is that the alcoholic didn't want to change and there is nothing that the family can do about that. At some point you have to think about yourself and do what's best for you, not the disease. My sister has been an alcoholic for 20 years and has lost everything - job, home, her son can't deal with her anymore and yet she chooses to continue drinking. She's been in an inpatient rehab center 3-4 times that cost my parents their retirement. It's hard to have faith in a disease that, if allowed, will take away your money, family and life. I separate my sister from her disease and love her dearly. I hate the disease, but my sister is in the gripes of the disease and it's dictating her life. I'm tired of the lies and manipulations. I had to except that she may die from this disease and that allowed me to detach.
—Guest MG

Letting go

The love of my life and husband of 21 years lost his business a few years ago and completely fell apart. Withdrew from me, began hanging out in a bar in a lower class area without my knowledge, drinking constantly, gambled away all our money, bankrupted me, losing our house, ran away about 6 weeks ago, then left the bar one night with a drunk woman and was unfaithful to me. I am dead now, he has murdered me in every way, the lies and adultery are beyond comprehension to me. He wants to go to marriage counseling, but will not get treatment, yet I am still harboring hope which is torturing me, I don't know how to let him go.

A hard learner, enabler? Who me?

After 25 years married to an alcoholic one might think they know all the reasons for sticking with a relationship that just never seems to get better . My ex husband was in the military, an officer, we had 4 children together. He was gone so much that I often just felt I was married to the picture on the wall. It is easy to pretend nothing is wrong when you are not living with an alcoholic daily. My husband was a good provider, our children never really spent enough time with him to realize he had a problem. The signs were mostly there, but I was not paying attention. After many years of diligently trying to live a normal life, he came home, or almost. My reward for good behavior was a husband who had been in a long running affair with our house broker who became pregnant. He still wanted the marriage to last with me but I was not willing to do that so we divorced. 20 years after the fact I find myself again in a relationship with an alcoholic, beware of repeats.

I've About Had It

Met her 10 years ago. Helped sell her house and we bought one together. Then, 4 years ago, we married even though I knew there was somewhat of a problem. It's gone downhill, fast, since. I've tried all of the approaches. She refuses to get help. Functions well at work. what a deceiver! Last week, for the first time in my life, I was arrested. I was so flabbergasted I didn't ask the police to test her level. I tried to stop her from calling 911 because she was simply drunk. NEVER have I been physically abusive to any woman! She told the police that I had grabbed her wrist and took the phone from her. I have two counts, now, to deal with... got thrown out of my own house. I handled it wrongly and know it. But, I'm done with her. I just want to get back in after the arraignment, tomorrow, long enough to get my ducks in a row and I'm done. She has a history of deception. Two of her 3 adult offspring hate her. I'm getting a good lawyer and we'll split whatever we can get out of the house.
—Guest kd

One big mistake we all make

This is for all of you who say I love him or her (The alcoholic). We are in Love with who we want them to be or the person they were not who they really are. I know because I've gone down that road too many times. Be honest with yourself. Are you in love with the alcoholic or who they were? Just thought I would bring that point up because I've had to learn the hard way.
—Guest A believer

In the same boat

Seems a lot of us wives have very similar issues with the ones we love. We all need to take care of ourselves, detach from the problems because stress can kill a person. For some unfortunates, bottom is death and there is nobody except God that can help.
—Guest mdltwngirl

Unwanted guest

I have been living with an unwanted guest in my marriage for 40 years. It's name is alcohol. No words can describe the hurt it has caused me and our children. There were nights when I woke up drenched to the skin, where he had urinated in the bed. The mental abuse has left me with no feelings for him whatsoever. I was never left short of money, but that was his way of getting rid if the guilt he should have felt. He is still drinking even though he has heart problems and is on medication. He has told me that it is my fault. When I try to speak to him about his drinking. He says i am a nagging wife. I cannot look at him in the face, and I only stayed with him because I had no where else to go. What a fool I was .
—Guest pathetic

Hurt and coping

My husband has gone through a year of AA and going through treatment after four years of on and off binge drinking at home. We've had arguments, gone through the house to find bottles, lots of embarrassing moments when we're supposed to be celebrating milestones in our lives, and plenty of bitter fights. We have a little boy and alcoholism has been the main reason I've held off on having another child with him. I hate having the distrust and resentment because it builds up and I've threatened to leave him in the past. We have a great military career and it has not affected his job but I won't be surprise if one day he does something really stupid because he is drunk. He blacks out when he drinks so much at home and I know he is embarrassed about this. Since his treatment ended six months ago, he is slipping back. We are still young - in our 20s - but I'm getting to the point that I love him but don't want throw my life away because of him and become a bitter person someday.
—Guest guest Aleja
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Alcoholism
  4. Support for Families
  5. Have You Been Playing a Role in the Life of an Alcoholic?

©2015 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.