Monday, December 28, 2009

Open Letter from the Alcoholic

The chairperson at a meeting I attended recently, who is also a member of AA, shared on this "Open Letter to the Alcoholic," which I've always thought was very powerful. I hadn't read it for a while, so it was a good reminder to me. The letter appears in the Al-Anon pamphlet "Three Views of Alcoholism." If you're not familiar with it, I've included it here:

Open Letter from the Alcoholic

I am an alcoholic. I need your help.

Don't lecture, blame or scold me. You wouldn't be angry with me for having cancer 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 abut 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 at the 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 the dimension of justice.

Don't cover up for me or try in any way 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 the 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


  1. Hi Kathy,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

    The letter is a good reminder.


  2. It makes so much sense when I read it. However, as a parent of an addicted son, it often feels counter-intuitive in terms of helping the one that I love so much. That being said, I'm continuing to learn to do the right things.

  3. Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am now following yours. I never read the alanon promises before. Thanks for sharing them and the letter from the alcoholic.

  4. Great advice. I've never seen it work any other way.

  5. Awesome, what an eye-opener. And here I was thinking it was all me, my fault, until it was killing me. Thanks for sharing

  6. What a great way to put it all. I shall share this at my next Al-Anon meeting. I'm really glad to have found an Al-Anon blog friend! x x

  7. Thank you for this post. I shared with my children and children of a friend. All who are children with an alcoholic Father. Thank you for your blog. I joined and will follow you!!!

  8. This is incredibly helpful. Thank you. Jason

  9. Ode to Alcohol

    Thank you for your letter explaining your past behavior as an alcoholic.

    As your ex-husband and former partner for life, I feel obligated to reply.

    On behalf of myself, our children, our parents, our extended family, my coworkers, our neighbors, nieces, nephews, grandparents, friends and just about everyone who knows us, I want you to

    know how terrible, hurtful and evil you have been. The lies you've spun, the hurtful things you've said, the lives you affected, the hardship, the suffering we've all endured and continue

    to endure on your account, is your true legacy. For all this I really have no reply.

    While you know we've all tried to help you but you ignored us, attacked us, sued us, split our family, introduced new problems and risks, caused new rifts in our relationships, poisoned our

    children, sickened holidays, forced us from our homes, decimated our finances, destroyed our dreams, ruined our retirement and tarnished our memories, I really have no reply. You took and

    destroyed the most precious things life can give.

    While I now know you have a disease (one that affected us all), and have somehow continued to live through its horrid affects and consequences, you always had a choice; we never did! You

    never gave us one. You walked out on our marriage, left our home, spilt our family, and forced us to defend ourselves as prey in a broken and costly legal system. We had to watch you in

    frustration as you abused yourself and ruined our lives. To this I have no reply.

    But even when we begged you, pleaded with you, you didn't care and didn't stop. The years went on as you continued to try and secretly hide your problem, lie, give your excuses, blame me,

    blame others, project guilt, manipulated us, twisted the facts and slowly drain the life out of me and our family. And now you ask for understanding and forgiveness? To this, I have no


    For you've taken my love, my family, my children, my friends, my trust, precious time, my hope, challenged my faith, forever altered dreams and the future of all you touched. All this is

    too much for any human to take and too much for you to ask for. To you I have no reply.

    I wish to tell you to go away, leave us to deal with your horrors. For it is easier on us when you are not around. For it is easier on us to suffer with your past horrors than to watch you

    continue and wait for your next. For if you ever reach sobriety and come to your senses, you have your remaining life on earth to try and make amends, for which I'm certain you'll never be

    able to do. Because as it has been written, told and lived time after time, the true victims of your illness are the innocent family and friends around you.

    You were the love of our lives, the inspiration of our life, and you were the mother of our children.

    Good riddance. You ruined cherished lives of your family. I can think of no greater crime. I wish I never met you.

    I hope God forgives you and I see the real you in heaven.

    circa 2016

  10. You may want to try Alanon. All that anger can be turned into a positive life for YOU.