Carrying anger from living with a drinker

Are you carrying anger from living with a drinker?

Are you carrying anger from living with a drinker? If you are then you aren’t alone. Whether you still live with a drinker, or they’re part of your life in some way or not, that anger lingers on.

Families of alcoholics tend to think logically about the drinkers behaviour, but it’s not about logic. They’re are acting out of desperation and need. They aren’t thinking logically. Every time you try to make sense of a situation, you’ll find yourself getting frustrated and angry. 

It may seem straight forward to you, what’s the point in them lying, why don’t they just tell the truth? That all seems reasonable doesn’t it. The problem is the drinker feels a lot of guilt, shame and embarrassment and so they lie to reduce the fall out. It’s likely if they’re truthful, they’ll get it in the neck from families. 

It’s reasonable that families are carrying anger from living with a drinker, but unfortunately that just makes it worse for the drinker. It seems like a difficult situation to get out of. 

Why do families carry anger about the drinker?

Because they’re frustrating! There’s no two ways about it.

The drinker does what they have to do, that doesn’t make it easy for those that love and care about them and they know it. Ultimately as a family member, you care about your loved one, you don’t want them to be hurting and you hate seeing them that way. You want better for them. 

You also don’t want to have to cope with the chaos that’s caused as a result of their actions. It gets too much and causes havoc. It’s hard to manage and you just want it to all stop. So you do whatever you can to make it stop, do you see the parallel here?

The drinkers do what they can to stop the pain they’re in, I appreciate it’s different situations but the pain is unmanageable for all involved. 

Cycle of Anger

Does that anger go when the drinker stops drinking?

This is totally person dependant, I’d say initially for a lot of families and those affected the answer is no. It doesn’t just all get better because the drinker has decided to stop (and it’s always when they decide). 

Even when the drinker is in recovery (if they get recovery) the anger can continue, you feel angry about all they put you (your family) through. They are getting on with their life and you’re still feeling anger. Accept that anger and look to work on it. 

The only person that will be hurting is you, they can’t do anything now about past issues but they are working to put their life right. Acceptance of how you feel is the only way you’ll be able to let it go. That may take time and you have to want to let it go. 

Sometimes we want to keep hold of it because we want to punish the person, but it isn’t really punishing them. It’s punishing you, because you’re the one feeling angry, they aren’t. It will certainly affect the relationship and not in a good way. 

How do you start to let go of the anger you’re carrying from living with a drinker?

  • Accept your anger
  • Understand EXACTLY what you’re angry about, e.g. is it that you feel let down, abandoned?
  • Look at the diagram above and start to recognise the cycle you’re on – what are the triggering events, what thoughts do you get, how do you respond, what are you feeling and how do you behave

Awareness is key, so if you start to recognise your own process, what your acting out, thinking and feeling, you’ll be able to choose your reactions rather than just reacting and then possibly later on regretting it. 

If you’d like to talk things through, feel free to join my Change Your Mind Facebook group where other families of alcoholics hang out and support each other with things just like this. Click here to request to join. 

I also created a workbook to help you deal with your anger, if you’d like access just sign up here:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.