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Doctor Blake
Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 146
Experience:  Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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My partner is an alcoholic. she is incapable of meeting or

Customer Question

my partner is an alcoholic. she is incapable of meeting or even listening to my emotional needs without seeing them as about her. i say my blood pressure is up - she says so youare saying thats my fault? then you should leave. Refuses couples counseling becasue its all about anger and she doesnt need that!
do you know of any articles or books i can read about alcoholics inability to deal with partners emotions?
thanks. deb
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Doctor Blake replied 7 years ago.

Good morning.

I'm sorry to hear about your partner.

First of all, it would be impossible (and inappropriate) to diagnose your partner with having alcoholism over the internet. That can only be done by a mental health professional after having seen and worked with her and completing some assessments. Within the parlance of the program of AA, however, "only you can know if you're an alcoholic."

With regard to your feelings regarding her behavior - this is very common among those who choose to live with the alcoholic. A great place to begin to address your concerns is Alanon.

But before we move into that, a bit about alcoholism:

With regard to medical treatment for alcoholism, most general physicians don't have sufficient training to address the problem medically. Even general Psychiatrists (medical) and Psychologists (non-medical) are often woefully undertrained in chemical dependency. You may wish to consider consulting with a Psychiatrist who has training or is identified as an Addictions specialist. Some medications currently in use for alcoholism or alcohol abuse include:

- Naltrexone (to reduce alcohol's positive effects);

- Antabuse (to reduce cravings for alcohol and to produce adverse effects if drinking occurs);

- Campral (to reduce cravings for alcohol if you've already stopped).

Even addictions specialists will tell you that, to be frank, a good alcoholic will always find away to "work around" medications and will resume drinking behavior.

With regard to treatment for alcoholism, scientific, peer-reviewed research indicates that the most frequent solution for alcoholism is "spontaneous recovery" - meaning that the individual stops or reduces consumption himself, without intervention... never to return to alcohol abuse or alcoholism. (Some question if these individuals are truly alcoholic.)

Despite the scientific literature, most experts will agree that AA is the best choice for treating alcoholism. Traditional psychotherapy has not been found to be particularly effective, nor has cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral therapy to teach problem drinkers how to "control their drinking" (e.g., Sobel & Sobel).

As you probably know, AA is largely a spiritual program - and many individuals initially find the "God concept" difficult to grapple with. You've probably also heard that you can define God as you understand him. This isn't easy for most alcoholics.

I would encourage your partner to start attending AA meetings. She should watch for the people she sees there... and look for the similarities, not the differences. She may find herself wondering about someone there who seems to say things that make sense. She may be older or younger, an alcoholic or an addict, but she looks happy and talks about recovery. It's her job to approach this person and ask her to be her sponsor. AA works, but it is a "we" program, not an "I" program. If she's willing to accept the hands that are being offered to her, she may well find herself on a journey that will not only help her with her alcohol problem, but may help her with her sober problems as well.

Finally, if she can do nothing else, remember the big four (taken from the story "JOIN THE TRIBE" in the 3rd edition of the Big Book):

- Don't pick up;

- Go to meetings;

- Get a BIG BOOK and read it;

- Find a sponsor and talk to him.

These are considered the keys (along with the 12 steps) of recovery within AA.

In case you haven't checked, there are AA meetings around the clock all over the nation. Check out: to find out one near you.

Also, you can always call a local "AA Clubhouse" in the area to find out when those meetings occur (but they will likely appear on the website listed above). The Clubhouse would also have literature such as "The Big Book" ( ) and Alanon literature for those in relationships with alcoholics.

Alanon is the sister organization of AA - and is for all the folks who must contend with having an alcoholic partner, spouse, child, parent, sibling (etc.) They can be reached at - and you'll also see postings for local meetings. I strongly recommend Alanon for you - as it will help you to cope with your feelings about this "alcoholic tornado" in your life... and help you come to some rational, manageable decisions about how to proceed.

I *do* wish you both the best of luck in your struggles. Alcoholism is "cunning, baffling, and powerful" and it appears you're on the cusp of making some important choices and changes in your life. I hope you have the patience, strength, and courage to do so. You BOTH deserve it!

* FEEDBACK ENCOURAGED. Please contact me prior to leaving negative feedback so that we can resolve the matter. I am eager to work with all JA clients to provide them with useful/helpful answers. Thanks again.

Doctor Blake and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thank you for responding. i know about aa and al anon. my question was specific articles that deal with an alcoholics inabilty to deal with partners emotions.
Expert:  Doctor Blake replied 7 years ago.
My apologies that I didn't answer your specific question. Give me a moment, please, to try to locate articles that may address your concerns... (I'll be back in touch soon!)
Expert:  Doctor Blake replied 7 years ago.

I've done some checking, and I think your question can be best answered by years of research into the alcoholic's inability to "read" other's emotional cues (facial, gestural, tonal, language, etc.) For example: a more recent study (this is the abstract only, 2009) detailing these problems commonly seen among alcoholics.

But, I'll be frank with you, I don't believe that knowing your partner has reduced limbic function is going to help you deal with the day-to-day realities of living with her (or leaving her). That will really only come with delving deep into some literature (books) such as the following:

Discovering Choices (Alanon.

(This is a brand new publication from the Alanon Family Group Headquarters. They offer many books, and smaller literature (articles, pamphlets) that you might find helpful.)

Why Don't They Just Quit (Herzanek, Hicks, & Lawrence). I've heard many clients and family members refer to this book as helpful.

Courage to Change (Alanon again).

Another Chance: Hope & Health for the Alcoholic Family (Wegsheider-Cruse).


I hope this is helpful... I believe that your questions are absolutely valid and make a great deal of sense. I also believe, however, that the answers you might be seeking are more likely to be found in a book (rather than an academic article) or, better still, in working with an Alanon sponsor.

Thanks again.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank u for the references. I am sure that they, and your thoughts. will be very helpful. I forgot to check back. Sorry for the delay. Thanks again. I am working on getting out.
Expert:  Doctor Blake replied 7 years ago.

Thanks to you - and best of luck.

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