Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A letter from the alcoholic

At tonight's meeting, we discussed a reading from the Al-Anon pamphlet "3 Views of Alcoholism". The following is a letter from the alcoholic that is found in this pamphlet.

"I am an alcoholic. I need your help.

Don't lecture, blame or scold me. You wouldn't be angry at me for having TB or diabetes. Alcoholism is a disease, too.

Don't pour out my liquor; it's just a waste because I can always find ways of getting more.

Don't let me provoke your anger. If you attack me verbally or physically, you will only confirm my bad opinion of myself. I hate myself enough already.

Don't let your love and anxiety for me lead you into doing what I ought to do for myself. If you assume my responsibilities, you make my failure to assume them permanent. My sense of guilt will be increased, and you will feel resentful.

Don't accept my promises. I'll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them every time.

Don't make empty threats. Once you have made a decision, stick to it.

Don't believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie. Denial of reality is a symptom of my illness. Moreover, I'm likely to lose respect for those I can fool too easily.

Don't let me take advantage of you or exploit you in any way. Love cannot exist for long without dimension of justice.

Don't cover up for me or try in anyway to spare me the consequences of my drinking. Don't lie for me, pay my bills or meet my obligations. It may avert or reduce the very crisis that would prompt me to seek help. I can continue to deny that I have a drinking problem as long as you provide an automatic escape for the consequences of my drinking.

Above all, do learn all you can about alcoholism and your role in relation to me. Go to open AA meetings when you can. Attend Al-Anon meetings regularly, read literature and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. They're the people who can help you see the whole situation clearly.

I love you,

Your alcoholic"

I have read this time and time again....and every time I read it, it's just as powerful as the first.  It pretty much says it all.  I did or thought about doing most of the things that are written. I am grateful that I went to open AA meetings and came to have compassion for the alcoholic.  I realize that each day is a new day.  I think of those that are sick and suffering with the disease. It is a terrible thing for the alcoholic and those who love him/her.

In a few days, I'll post the response from the Al-Anon side of things to this letter. It too is powerful.


  1. Yep, that's the truth of an alcoholic. Thanks for sharing this, Syd. I hadn't read it in quite a while. Different parts of it stand out stronger for me now. I'm going to call it Growth.

  2. Syd, you've touched another of my 'heart strings' by quoting my very favorite Al-Anon pamphlet. I have given several programs for meetings using it, and must admit to tears whenever I read it. When the individual gets to this stage of his/her 'bottom' they are ready for help and recovery.

    The first time I read this CAL, I thought that the alcoholic could never be this humble, but - - - like you - - - in attending many open AA meetings, I changed my opinion. These are wonderful people, and this letter affirms the fact that they DO NOT want the problem of alcoholism/addiction.

    In fact, if it had not been for my marriage to an alcoholic, I would not have found the recovery that I so desperately looked everywhere to find. I am very grateful for the affiliation with an alcoholic because of this.

    I am so glad to see this in print - for the world to see - - - it's one of Al-Anon's most profound acknowledgements in the cooperating we are asked to do with the 'other' fellowship.

    Thanks so very very much.

    Anonymous #1

  3. It is powerful, Syd. And not easy reading for those living with an active alcoholic.

  4. looking forward to reading the response...

  5. dont spare me the consequences of my actions...that one really jumped out at me...as i think we do that...with alcoholics...but with our kids as well..

  6. I don't think I've ever seen this before. Love it. Thanks for sharing it here.

  7. I can only control my diabetes but I can leave my alcoholism behind me.

  8. There is a similar one in nar anon. I like to return to it from time to time, thanks for sharing.

  9. Yesterday I read your post and thank's to that I was able to go to bed with a sense of serenity.

    "Don't accept my promises. I'll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them every time."

    Yes, they mean them every time and they love you.

    Loving an alcoholic haven't been easy for me, but in certain moments it has also been wonderful. Now I have to let him go without accepting any promises. His love, tough, is truthful. Your post remind me that.

    Looking forward for the response.

    Thank you!

  10. Thank you for this! I am going to print it and keep it in my journal. I need this reminder every now and again. It's hard sometimes to remember that I am not dealing with a sane thinking person.

  11. It says it all. All the things we do sometimes with the best intentions and sometimes not. Let another person drinking or not have the dignity of taking care of themselves.

    For me the open AA meetings helped me to see it wasn't personal. Especially the broken promises made so sincerely weren't lies that I was dumb enough to believe. They did mean them at the time.

  12. My favorite reading! My sponsor took me to a group that read it each time they had a newcomer and it stuck with me ever since.

  13. Powerful only behind to describe this letter. I really needed too see this today. Perfect timing! Thanks for all your sharing, it really does make a difference.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.