A Spouses Guide Into The Mind Of An Alcoholic

blue brain

“Why doesn’t he just quit?”

You may have said that more than once, I’m sure. Let me give you some insight into the mind of an alcoholic.

Very few of them can quit “cold turkey” because of the effects of alcohol.

I won’t use any medical or clinical terms and keep it easy to understand. And I won’t defend his behavior.

He Has a Disease

Be aware, it’s a condition if gone untreated could cause death.

That’s pretty “point blank” isn’t it? I’m sorry, but you need to hear that.

If I was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t get treatment the chances I would die are pretty high. It’s very similar with alcoholism.

Continued drinking can lead to liver failure, heart problems and, heaven forbid, an automobile or other kind of accident.

What Goes on in His Mind

An alcoholic can’t see how booze has affected his life…emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, spiritually and volitionally (ability to make choices).

Getting sober is more than just not drinking. He needs to identify the patterns of behavior that lead him to drink. i.e. When he goes to the liquor store to buy cigarettes he always comes home with a bottle. He needs to buy cigarettes somewhere else. There are many behaviors that can lead to his use.

An alcoholic has to learn how to “deal with life on life’s terms,” as we say in AA.

What about His Cravings

We call it being “pre-occupied” with alcohol. When he’s not drinking, all he can think about is the next one.

It’s not that he doesn’t care about other things. They just become less important than alcohol.

The “phenomenon of craving,” is what his mind feels when he’s sober. An alcoholic needs a drink to deal with life. And his body has become physically dependent on alcohol.

One drink leads to another…and another. Well, you know where I’m going with this.

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous like to say, “One is too many and a hundred is not enough.”

Stop the “Vicious Cycle”

Short episodes of sobriety followed by long periods of drinking, is all part of it.

Because of alcohols effect on the central nervous system, which causes the cravings,” detox and treatment in a structured environment is recommended.

He also needs support to keep him accountable for the changes he makes in his behavior. That support can from recovered alcoholics or people who can remain objective and hold him to his commitments.

You can give him some support but you may be too close to the situation. He needs others he can rely on.

Recovery isn’t an event, like a ballgame or concert, with a start and end time. It’s a lifelong process to prevent relapse that includes gaining coping skills, put them into practice, and learn to be accountable.

Love, compassion and support from you are important. Since he can’t “just quit”, he needs to seek proper treatment.

Hopefully he’ll do so before it’s too late.

If you thought this article was helpful, you can click here to share it on twitter or get even more by signing up below for free updates and subscriber only advice.


Did this article help? Get more advice (it's Free)

Your Addicts First Name

Your Email Address


Here’s What 4 Other People Thought...

  1. Donna

    Great information!! This helps me understand him. Thank you

    • FreeMyAddict Coach

      We’re glad the information has been helpful.

  2. Terry acknowledges that he is a alcoholic,(drunk) almost with pride in his voice. There is no sense of remorse or shame. He follows this with: “At least I work and I don’t (fill in the blank.)” I don’t believe there is any hope for him staying getting well. We have excellent insurance. He could pick any facility to help him get well but he won’t hear of it. I’ve given up and have went on with my life as best as possible.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Obviously, the benefits of using outweigh the cost. That will change as the illness progresses. The fact that he can function isn’t necessarily a good sign, it simply means his tolerance is quite high. The impact will be felt in time. The important part is for you to make sure you’re okay.

Leave a Comment

Talk With Someone