Having someone close to you, whether it is a friend, a romantic partner, a family member, or even a parent who struggles with addiction, is challenging.
The family and friends of the alcoholic are often on the receiving end of the lies, deceit, and manipulation from the very person who claims to love them. This behavior is very confusing for the people who love the alcoholic the most as they hurt in often cruel ways.
As targets of abusive behavior that often manifests as rage attacks and violence in general, the objective is often left asking why?
What did they do to cause the addicted person to hate them so much? What did they do to create the addicted person to feel they deserved such punishment and cruelty?
Here is the hard truth, the family, the friend, the significant other, the child, the one experiencing the outbursts hasn’t done anything wrong.
So, why are alcoholics so mean to the ones they love?
When someone is addicted to alcohol, it alters their behavior in predictable patterns.
This idea that it’s “everybody else” is also why alcoholics deny that they have an addiction. They cannot look at themselves as the problem, because often they are still trying to run from whatever is causing them pain. If called out, they will insist that they don’t have a problem, because acknowledging this root issue is too scary, shameful, painful, or overwhelming.
The easier route is to make other people responsible for their moods and overall emotional well-being.
They will often blame innocent bystanders for provoking them to anger and meltdown into fits of rage over the smallest things because they demand that everything be their way. Alcoholics do this because they are trying to self-regulate by controlling their external world to make up for their internal turmoil.
Understanding alcoholic abuse is a vital part of answering the question, “why are alcoholics so mean to the ones they love.”
Alcoholics, most often, are using alcohol to suppress having to feel the fullness of negative emotions. Rather than face the feelings, they are using the substance to “regulate” themselves.
The distress may be a myriad of things. Their current job is overwhelming for them; maybe they grew up rough and are suffering from the wounds of childhood. Maybe something traumatic has happened in the recent past, or they are lonely.
With all these bottled-up emotions when an alcoholic does drink since alcohol naturally lowers inhibitions, loved ones often find themselves caught in the torrent as the emotions re-surface most often as anger.
These outbursts are akin to a volcano blowing out sideways rather than straight-up, as the emotions will always find a way out.
Because you are a trusted loved one, the addict knows that you will not hurt them in their pain-fueled rage. The alcoholic knows that, most likely, there will be minimal to possibly no consequences for them becoming violent ( which happens far too often) and feel free to unleash all of their pent up angst on a loved one in that moment of drunkenness.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
You can’t. All addicts, alcoholics included, must help themselves. They must be the ones to choose to recover.