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