For family members, alcoholism causes a progressive inability to predict their own behavior because of the growing preoccupation with and reaction to another person’s drinking.
Generally speaking, if a person is wondering whether alcoholism is the problem, it probably is. Family members need to hear that the emotions they feel are a normal reaction to alcoholism. Frequently, they experience a free-floating but pervasive fear. They are afraid of the alcoholic’s reactions and are prepared to settle for “peace at any price.” They worry about bills, accidents and job losses (the alcoholic’s and, in some cases, their own). As they attempt to deal with the erratic, irrational behavior of the drinker, they become confused and increasingly guilty and preoccupied.
As their lives become compulsively centered on trying to get the alcoholic to stop drinking through unsuccessful attempts to manipulate and control, most of their actions only enable the alcoholic to continue the drinking.
Family members are caught in a cycle of repetitive non-helpful behavior that leaves them frustrated, angry and alone. They feel helpless and hopeless.
Betty Reddy, CEAP
Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism © 1985 Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. “Fact Sheet For Professionals — Information About Al-Anon & Alateen” (S-37)