Alcohol Abuse: When Does the Real Change Start?

Often times I’m working with couples clients, and one will want to change the other. More times than not, alcohol is involved. Maybe the wife will feel like she is feeling emotionally abused, and the husband is expressing a lot of anger.

I let the wife know “you can’t change him, and he probably doesn’t realize what he’s doing is wrong.” And that’s that. Wife should give up right?

Well, kind of. I ask her “What are you going to do if he doesn’t quit drinking?”

She says “Leave!”

I say “Whoah whoah woah! If you say you’re going to leave you damn well better leave because he will not take you seriously!”

In all actuality, she is probably hurting him and herself by staying in this relationship. He might get help. Is he going to return to alcohol after some sober time? Statistics say most likely, 7 times on average he’ll relapse until he gets it right in fact according to some theoretical models.

So When Are You More Likely To Never Go Back To Alcohol?

When will the change actually begin? Sometimes there may be health problems, and sometimes it’s money problems. I don’t think the changes happen until the person actually feels GUILT.

That’s right. The change is not going to stick unless the person knows the consequences of their action is wrong. If you have health problems for drinking for 30 years straight, you should feel pretty guilty for drinking in front of your children. They will probably follow in your footsteps.

If you yell and scream when you don’t get your way, you might justify it in your head. Until you realize that you’re hurting yourself and everyone around you and feel guilty for it, then you’re probably not going to make a change.

And for the partner who wants to help the alcohol abuser… stop. Don’t. You are making it okay for them to do what they do. By taking all the blame and shame you make it okay for them to do what they do. Get your own counseling, go to Al-Anon, but stop trying to change something that’s out of your control!.

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