Ask Joyce: How Can I Get My Boyfriend to Stop Drinking?

Dear Joyce,

I have been living with my boyfriend for the last six months. He is a great guy, very sensitive, caring, and a good provider. There is just one little problem.

He gets drunk on most weekends. When he drinks too much he sometimes becomes a completely different person. He becomes angry at me and says very mean things. The next day, he rarely remembers anything and can’t understand why I am so upset.

He can’t be an alcoholic because he goes four days straight without drinking, right. My father was an alcoholic and he drank every day. Dad was also violent.

Tell me, Joyce. How do I get my boyfriend to stop drinking?


Joyce's Response

Dear Jan,

To answer your last question first, you can’t make him stop drinking. Remember the three “C”s of dysfunctional people:

You didn’t Cause it, you can’t Control it, and you can’t Cure it.

However, there is something that you can do to help him.

The only way that people ever realize that their drinking is a problem is by experiencing the consequences of their drinking. So try to make sure that you don’t undo any of the consequences of his drinking.

If he comes home so drunk that he passes out on the bathroom floor, just leave him there. When he awakens on the floor, he will realize that he couldn’t make it to bed. This makes a much stronger statement than anything that you could say about it. If he oversleeps for work, refuse to call in for him. If he gets a DWI, don’t bail him out of jail, or find a lawyer for him, or pay for it. This way of relating to him is called tough love and increases his chances of getting help.

As far as whether he is an alcoholic, here are some definitions. Once an alcoholic takes a drink, he or she can’t consistently control how much he or she drinks after the first one. A simple definition is that “wart” definition. This stands for “with alcohol repeated trouble”.

I am sorry that you grew up with a violent alcoholic father. You must have been terrified as a child. Some of the things that you learned as a child to survive may result in dysfunctional men being drawn to you. I encourage you to read the first two articles on my website. I also recommend that you attend Al-Anon meetings and see a psychotherapist for some support. Good luck to you and write and let me know how you are doing.


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