5 Risks: Life With An Alcoholic


When you look at your life there’s risks around every corner.

I’m sure you don’t actually sit down an calculate what the chances of getting hit by a car when you cross the road.

Many risks we simply accept because we put some precautionary consideration in place to handle it.

The goal, when you live with an alcoholic is not to live without risk but to know what they are so you can do something to make you less vulnerable.

These are some areas where your alcoholic may create risk for you.

Financial Security

If you’re lucky, your alcoholic is functional. This simply means he’s able to work and keep a job.

It’s all to common for an alcoholic to be oblivious to how much damage is done to the financal situation because of continued use.

Alcohol consumption is expensive when you consider how muchis consumed over a short period of time.

I knew a woman once who scraped and scrimped to put food on the table for her kids.

When her husband finally sobered up she came to realize just how much he spent on drinking.

You can’t believe the anger she had for those years of unnecessary sacrifice.

Are you reluctant to confront your alcoholic about the issues because you are afraid of the financial impact of such an action?

You might find a way to manage this risk with a decision to develop more income strategies.

Sew, cook, clean, knit, crochet, keep books,care for elderly or do tasks for someone. Once you get out of the mindset of ‘I can’t’. You CAN!

The risk is greatly reduced when you have an alternative plan for financial resources.

Meaningful Relationship

I understand your best plans were to have an intimate relationship with your alcoholic.

When there is more concern about drinking than there is about a relationship with you I would say the relationship is at risk.

When you look for something from your alcoholic he’s not prepared to give (because of the booze) you are constantly let down.

What can you do about it?

I suggest you use the method of give as much as will be returned.

You don’t have to be mean to your alcoholic but if he spends the majority of his time with the bottle and drinking friends, maybe you need to decide what you invest in the relationship.

Let me use an example. If I gave you a quarter and you gave me a dime back. We did this several times. Wouln’t it be about time I choose not to give more than a dime for a dime?

You may even have a need to nurture. In some way you find some fulfillment when you care for your alcoholic.

If you can do it without expectation of anything in return, fine.

Generally there’s an expectation. Look deep and see if you REALLY expect nothing in return or are you expecting a relationship to rise from the ashes?

You can have meaningful relationships with people who are willing to have meaningful relationships. Is that your alcoholic?

Social Acceptance

Everyone wants to be accepted by friends and family.

When your life revolves around an alcoholic it’s difficult to not take on emotions based on the situation.

When you’re out and about you wonder do others live like this?

It’s really okay to ask this but be careful of the answer. When you start to compare you never can quite know the truth about someone else’s situation.

Under no circumstances do you need to bear shame or guilt because of your alcoholic.

Alcoholism is an illness and you wouldn’t be ashamed of your husband if he had cancer or heart disease.

You don’t need to bear his responsibilities for alcohol use.

Because of your situation it’s easy to see the risk to your social acceptance based on your relationship to an alcoholic.

Let your qualities and strengths be the basis when you form social relationships.

Be Valued

Your need to be valued is important and at risk in a relationshp with your alcoholic.

When the illness takes over alcohol IS the priority.

It’s no wonder you feel at risk of not being valued.

Develop for you a network of people who on a consistent basis let you know how valued you are to them.

When you begin to receive feedback that suggest you are valuable it’s your turn to take it in and accept it.

Don’t discount what they say, just say thank you.

Hopes and Dreams

Maybe more than any single thing impacted by alcoholism is the risk to what you want out of life.

We’ve all been taught to dream.

The plans and goals you broght into the relationship with your alcoholic are severely altered because of the priority alcohol takes in your family.

Dreams can be individual or they can be envisioned with more than one person.

I would recommend you start some dreams that are not dependent on more than just YOU.

Set your hopes on more than your alcoholic. It’s time for you to take care of the risk represented in your situation.

How have you managed risk in your life. Share with us in the comment section below.


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Here’s What 20 Other People Thought...

  1. Debby

    Thank you for your articles. We are just beginning to deal with his drinking issues. He has had a problem for years but it is just in recent months that it has escalated to the point that he is totally out of control of his drinking. I am fearful that he will drink and then decide to drive. One risk that you didn’t address is concerning financial risk to myself if he should make an unwise choice and end up causing damage or injury to another. Is there any way that I can protect myself, short of divorce, from being liable? And, who would I consult with concerning this issue?
    Thank you.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      You’re absolutely correct about the risk you share financially when your alcoholic uses poor judgment. I’m not a lawyer but my understanding is a husband and wife share property in common and there’s not much short of a divorce to protect yourself. I would consult a good attorney to see what measures you could take to protect yourself. Please share your findings with us.

      • Viki

        I’ve faced this problem, too. I took the keys to his vehicle and suggested that he take a cab. Driving is a privilege that can be taken away. I know it’s hard, because the alcoholic will be angry, but that’s another topic : )!

      • FreeMyAddict Team

        Great suggestion. Thanks for your comment

  2. Debby

    I’ve tried taking the keys. He just gets very angry and refuses to give them to me. If I sneak them when he’s not looking, he’ll tear the house apart looking for them. In any event, it would be difficult to keep him from driving anyway. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Thank you for your advice anyway. I’d sure like input from anyone else out there.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Frankly, if your husband is determined to drink and drive he likely will. I’m in favor of making it as hard as possible to do so.

      • Viki

        It’s been my experience that my alcoholic has controlled me through the very behavior you describe. I know you don’t want to bring law enforcement into your problem, but from the sounds of it they will become involved eventually anyway. Better that it is at this point rather than when he has had a costly wreck while under the influence. If he uses force with you, call the police. If he is only tearing the house apart, let law enforcement know where he is apt to be drinking and driving. Again, a DUI is better than him killing himself of someone else behind the wheel. I know this sounds pretty tough, but I’ve been where you are. It isn’t easy, but it really is necessary sometimes.

      • FreeMyAddict Team

        You are so right on! When the legal system gets involved the alcohol may believe it’s the end of the world. It could be just the beginning of the end of his drinking. I’ve seen a DUI turn into consequences requiring treatment, probation and community service while remaining sober and attending Alcoholics Anonymous. Not a bad outcome for the trouble. For some alcoholic’s it’s the hammer they need over their head to make a good choice.

  3. Debby

    Had a DUI already. Didn’t seem to matter. He has finally seen his MD about his drinking after I told him he needed to get help or get out, his choice, but I believe he is still in denial. Refuses counseling, AA, etc. Don’t know where it’s going to end. Also don’t know how much I can take. A 40 year marriage down the drain, all because he can’t control his drinking. I know it is a disease, especially since he has had an Uncle, Mom, Dad, and Grandfather…all alcoholics. But I also know that I can’t handle much more of this. One of my adult sons (who was a cop) and I are looking into Al-Anon in our area. Anyone had experience with Al-Anon? Was it helpful?

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Debby, Al-Anon is very helpful. It’s important for you not to carry this load alone. Some alcoholics end up losing their license, even permanently before they realize what’s important. If he gets in enough legal trouble he may choose between incarceration or AA. Maybe AA will look a little more attractive then.

  4. stephanie

    this is my first time here. i know that my husband is not going to stop drinking until he wants too. and i have to face the fact that he probably never will stop drinking. i am trying to find a place for myself to just come and talk so i can get some support in dealing with his alcoholism. the way that i have found to stop him from finding the keys to the truck is hide them somewhere else other than inside the house. but make sure it is some place that you will remember where you put the keys. but a place where your husband will never think of looking for them. yeah he might get angry, but once he ever sobers up, he will realize all you were trying to do was keep him safe. i know when my husband can’t find the keys right away he gets bored in looking, and goes back to bed where he passes out again. all i know this is hard to deal with, even though i love my husband i sometimes think about leaving him. but we do have those good times when he is not drunk out of his mind. even though they are not all that often. i do hope that you all are having a good night.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Thanks Stephanie for your comment and welcome to FreeMyAddict. There’s FREE Group Coaching when you join as a Member of Community Connect. Here’s a Link

  5. Debby

    Stephanie, this was my first time to post also. I appreciate the support from you, Vicki and the team. I keep wrestling with how to handle the various situations and it’s good to be hearing how others have handled similar situations. I’m so sorry so many people have to go thru this but it is nice to know that I’m not alone.
    I told my husband some time ago, that I would no longer ‘cover’ for him when he is drunk. Slowly people are learning his ‘secret’ by witnessing first hand his drinking. I haven’t gotten to the point yet of telling good trusted friends, either of mine or his, what is going on; nor do I know if I even should. Any thoughts out there on that? It’s so difficult to pretend all is going well when it isn’t; but at the same time, I hate for people to lose their respect for him.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      If you have a good friend who you trust to be a confidant then it would be a great thing to have a friend you can talk to about what you’re going through. Don’t be surprised however, if they don’t quite understand. Their advice may be simplistic like “leave him” without understanding why you stay. If your friend can listen without judgment and really cares about you I say go for it.

      You might be surprised how much they already know about your husband.

      • Michelle

        This reply made got me thinking:
        Real love is unconditional
        But relationships are NOT.
        They should have conditions about them.
        You can love someone w/out allowing them to ruin your life or endanger it!
        If leaving is the only way you can protect yourself or your family then that’s what you do and there is no shame in it.
        Especially when there are children involved.
        What danger would you allow them to be put in day in and day out? Is it fair to have them growing up with the example of addiction and it’s destruction in their lives? How will you feel if they didn’t have a place to live anymore? Taking care of an addict can’t come before taking care of yourself and your family. As much as you may want to stay-
        “leave him” may be the wisest advice you’re given.

        I’m not saying that those men and women who do stay are wrong or foolish in any way. And I like how this comment points out that there are valid and logical reasons why you would stay, loving them being one of those reasons. Like in the last post, if you’re still going to be thinking of them everyday anyway then you should still be with them. You weren’t ready to leave yet. If you’ve come to a point were you’ve tried to leave, where you’ve tried to move on into another relationship but it just isn’t working, it’s because you weren’t ready to be without that person. If you still WANT to stay, then you shouldn’t feel ashamed of that either- like something is wrong with you. Friends will start to tell you that there is something wrong with you. They are reacting out of concern not “judgment”. It would be painful for them to have to visit you in the hospital because you’ve been beaten or to watch you loose your house. They are trying to avoid this pain by giving you the advice they feel will lead you to safety most quickly. And they are probably frustrated about hearing you cry and be sad all the time. My advice: don’t share everything about your relationship with your friends. I’m not saying hide things out of shame- just don’t make yourself a reality show for them- putting everything on blast all the time. A relationship is two people- not a whole troop.
        But if you are ready to leave, there is no shame in that either. You shouldn’t feel like you’re not doing enough if you’ve come to the point were your gut is telling you to “leave”.
        Bottom line for me: Trust your gut. My never fails me. If my gut says I’m still in love him, then that’s it. I’m staying. Others may have different criteria. That one is mine.

      • FreeMyAddict Team

        I have dealt with many people who’ve been raised in the home of an alcoholic. There are definitely down sides to it, but to assume the exposure to an alcoholic in an of itself is harmful may be an overstatement. The illness isn’t contagious even though it has a strong hereditary component. The answer isn’t always to leave nor is it always to stay. Children of alcoholics react much the same as children who are raised in any other high stress environment. Identity issues, emotional stability and self esteem are all part of the adjustment necessary for those raised in high stress homes.

        I do agree with you relationships are not unconditional. There are some life events that may forever alter a relationship. Love may be constant through such events.

        Individuals have different tolerance levels, too. Some handle stressful situations like it were routine while others become overwhelmed and unable to function.

        This is one of the reasons only the individual can determine whether to stay or leave. It’s based on their experience and personal choice.

        From FreeMyAddict we support your journey whatever decision you choose.

  6. Viki

    Debbie, I so feel your pain. My marriage is 33 years long, and I understand how torn you are. I can honestly say that at one point Al-Anon saved my life. No judgments are given; just a lot of support. You may have to go to more than one group to find the one that works for you, and go at least three times before making your decision on whether to stay. I would also recommend getting a copy of the Big Book of AA and reading the first 164 pages. Another thing that has helped me has been attending open meetings of AA, especially speaker meetings. You’ll find that your situation is not isolated, and you’ll be able to see things from the alcoholic’s perspective. I wish you well, Debbie.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Thanks Viki

  7. Viki

    Debby, my apologies for misspelling your name . . . not once, but twice!!

  8. Debby's

    Thank you vicki. I will look into all of that

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