Shame On Who?


When I was young it wasn’t uncommon to hear the words ‘shame on you’.

It was as though somehow those words actually had the power to correct behavior.

The only thing for sure that comes out of such correction is a poor self image that results in low self esteem.

What is this shame thing all about?

Shame’s a put down

When you’re angry it’s very easy to speak before you think.

Judgment is not nearly as good at that time.

If you feel poorly about your alcoholic, you may wonder to yourself ‘why doesn’t he just stop’ or ‘why does he do this to himself’.

These musings make it fertile ground for shame.

It may be hard not to find fault with your alcoholic.

The blame game ends up as a way to shame your alcoholic.

Better by comparison

Something you may want to consider.

If you personally shame your alcoholic, I wonder if somehow it makes you feel better by comparison.

You may feel shame about your situation and to avoid facing it head on, it’s much easier to shame your alcoholic.

Just remember it doesn’t help you or your alcoholic.

There’s never a good reason to shame an alcoholic.


Shame and alcoholism have been linked throughout history.

Often there have been groups who didn’t understand the illness who considered it a moral issue.

When you put alcoholism in a right or wrong context there’s not much chance for your alcoholic to come out without the ‘shame’ label.

I’m here to tell you the best research into what happens with this illness supports an understanding that alcoholism is a brain disorder.

Along with what happens to the brain are many associated behaviors like relapse, compulsion, obsession, inability to stop drinking and more.

When you take this illness as a amoral issue, neither right or wrong, everything changes.

Good people have bad illnesses.

Alcoholism is a bad illness.


There is no healing power in shame.

The only thing it does is to debilitate the person who’s shamed.

If you carry the shame for your alcoholic you know how debilitating it can be.

When you come to the place where you accept your alcoholic’s illness you can let go of the shame.

Will others around you shame your alcoholic.


Only out of ignorance about the illness will they continue to shame.

The truth about alcoholism is the only way the black-white world will see gray.

I find people to be fairly open to understand it.


If you’ve been the recipient of shame you know how debilitating it can be.

My suggestion is for you to gain courage to confront those messages that may have given you the notion of ‘shame on you’.

When you do I’m sure it’ll be liberating to say the least.

Think for a moment, if your alcoholic feels shame, I wonder how much they’re debilitated by it.

As someone who cares about your alcoholic what if we took on the challenge to set the record straight about the illness.

This frees you up to take every opportunity to speak truth into your alcoholic’s life because it’s the antidote for shame.

In what ways have you dealt with shame? Let us know in the comment section below.


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Here’s What 20 Other People Thought...

  1. Viki

    I think the most difficult thing for me is trying to explain to those who care about me why I am still with my alcoholic. They believe his actions are shameful, and that I not only have every right to leave him, but also that I am weak in character for not doing so. To be honest with you, I thought that for a long time, too, and vacillated between staying or leaving. I am gradually winning over my critics with explanations based on the research that shows alcoholism is a mental illness, and that they wouldn’t expect me to leave him if he had an illness like Alzheimer’s. I find that as I do a better job of understanding the disease and establishing appropriate boundaries, those who care about me are much more forgiving.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Let’s test the logic of this idea you might be weak if you stay with your alcoholic. Would it be a sign of weakness to stay with a cancer victim? If they never recover… is it weakness to stand by their side in the struggle to overcome cancer? What if they die of cancer, is it any more a sign of weakness? I think not!
      Simply because alcoholism has been misunderstood it’s now courageous to walk out but weak to stay. In fact, Viki, you know as well as I do it takes more courage to stand your ground, stand by your alcoholic and work toward the day he’ll find recovery. Now THAT’S Courage!

    • kat

      Very good response i too feel the same way , and its worse with his family, they don’t want to hear their brother or son has a problem , but it came from the family of drinkers lol i agree with you totally

      • FreeMyAddict Team

        Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  2. Hershla

    For years I just didn’t tell anyone. I don’t have people over and blame it on having 4 dogs. I retired recently and Barry still works. He is younger than me. I have started going to Church and go to Pilates twice a week. Now if someone ask me about him I tell the truth. This site has helped me so much. The shame I have is that I fell for a closet drinker, and I certainly was old enough to know better. Can we all say(Codependant?)

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like your doing a lot of good things for yourself. Good job.

  3. Kathy

    You recently sent me an article describing how alcoholics cause isolation due to not attending events where no alcohol is served. There were a lot of other items listed that hurt the spouse of the alcoholic. I cannot locate this e-mail on my computer and would appreciate if you could re-send it or a similar article describing the many social behaviors that come with living with an alcoholic. Thank you.

  4. kat

    I have lived with My husband for 25 years and he always thought he never had a problem until he was arrested and thrown in jail for strangling, me, he almost killed me and he never meant to, the drink is strong, he heard the testimonies of others in jail and finally a break threw i prayed for he gets it he is an alcoholic, he went straight way to get help after i bonded him, out, he is a good man, he has an illness, yes i will stand by him we built a home together why would i leave him now, no matter how hard the fight and believe me it is hell sometimes i will stay , this chick is never to old to say i screwed up or i need help , i am never to ashamed in our world today to let people know this world is falling down, we need each other so get over it

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      It takes courage to stick it out. Not everyone chooses to do it. I commend you.

  5. Faith

    Wow….Viki..that is the hardest thing I have to do. Explain to people why I am still with Don after everything that has happened. I sometimes feel like they are saying “She deserves whatever she gets If she stays with him. I do try to say things like..”if your husband had cancer would you leave him.” They really don’t understand and that makes it really hard for me to deal with all of this.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      I know there are many people who believe Alcoholism is a choice not an illness. They moralize the choice and even think the alcoholic is a ‘bad’ person. When you understand it’s an illness there’s opportunity for more empathy. Some will never understand. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Ross

    My alcoholic spouse cheated on me and took all our retirement and wants to move in and have no consequences.should i view him as sick ,including the adultery he committed?I think he has did it before.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      The illness of alcoholism results in poor judgment…even adultery. It’s not up to me to decide what you do about your relationship. Many women would call it quits. As long as he’s active ‘in the bottle’ he’ll make poor judgments and the indiscretions will likely continue. One thing I know, you need support around you no matter what you decide.

  7. Ross

    Thanks for the encouragement.I have been building my network and going to a support group.My alcoholic says he wants marriage and family and wants to come home, but doesnt want to quit drinking.He threatens with following through with a divorce if i wont let him move home…can you share on this? thanks.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Unless you’re prepared for the consequences of him as an active alcoholic in your home, I would suggest sobriety is a good boundary for reconciliation. Remember he wants marriage and family but he wants alcohol more. Maybe when he understands he can have it with sobriety it’ll be worth it for him to get into recovery. It’s kind of like wanting his mistress and come home too.

    • KAT

      Ross , every man would love this his cake and eat it to so to say, but where does that leave you, i would say it sound like to me you have been shaken, you need to find you are a good woman , this is not about you but him, you did nothing wrong, he is ill so how do you treat someone who is ill, i would stand your ground and say no to him until he gets help, a man that does not meet you half way on this will not recover, and the threat he will divorce you is a tactic to scare you, its obvious he does not want a divorce, because he said he wants marriage, then let him prove it, tell him to get help with AA , the first session will help him and you will be glad u stood your ground i did, i thought it was all over i thought he we go divorce court and all, but when i stood my ground and lost the fear, he had nothing else to do but go to AA it has changed our lives, you have to find you, you have to be strong for him as you would a ill child, the drink does give them childlike mind , so be brave Ross, and tell him ,get help or go ahead with his plans , what else do u have to lose,

      • FreeMyAddict Team

        Thanks for your support of Ross. This is what really helps!

  8. Ross

    So true.Thanks for the important work you do. I have been encouraged by the articles and the responses.I have been deeply troubled by our circumstances and recovering slowly but surely, get repetitive with my comments I’m sure. But it still helps to share and be heard and hear the advice.

    • FreeMyAddict Team

      Thanks for your comment Ross. I’m sure your husband’s behavior is repetitive… we can give you room to express yourself.

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