Why do Alcoholics Drink?

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Why do alcoholics drink? No doubt many of us have wrestled with this question many times, especially those of us who are close to an alcoholic. It can certainly be frustrating to sit by and watch someone self destruct.

So the question keeps popping up, over and over again. But it’s almost completely useless. Knowing why someone drinks is not going to empower you or anyone else to help them or convince them to stop.

Even the alcoholic might question why they drink, and eventually look at the reasons that they first started drinking. Even this is mostly useless. Knowing the root causes of their drinking doesn’t change the fact that they are alcoholic. Knowing the causes and addressing them still doesn’t change the alcoholism itself. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. We can stop drinking, and even find recovery, but the disease itself is not going away, even if we treat the things that originally drove us to drink. For some people, there was nothing specific that drove their disease. Alcoholism just happened to them.

So the question of why an alcoholic drinks is fairly useless. They drink because they are alcoholic. This is a circular game of logic that gets us nowhere. Instead, here are some questions that you might ask yourself instead, that can lead to real action and change in the life of an alcoholic:

1) Am I enabling the alcoholic in any way?

2) Am I letting the alcoholic experience the natural consequences of their drinking, or am I rescuing them? (hint: do not rescue them!)

3) Am I trying to deny the alcoholic of their pain? (the pain that might lead them to change one day?)

Why they drink is not important

Do not dwell on why a person drinks. This is pure self-torture. Some people blame themselves or at least wonder if they have played a part in why an alcoholic drinks like they do. This is madness. Their allergy to alcohol has nothing to do with you, and it is not driven by you or your actions.

They “why” is not important. Instead, focus on how you can move the person closer to a decision for real change. Most of your actions in doing this can be uncovered through examining the 3 questions above. Everything else you might attempt is usually going to be ineffective as far as motivating someone for change.

Ignore the question of “why” and focus on what you can do to help.

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  • Vivian Eisenecher

    I drank because I didn’t like the way I felt. Until my depression and anxiety were successfully treated, I couldn’t stay sober. Knowing the “why,” of my drinking differently helped me.

  • courntey E

    I agree, I only and always drink to change whatever is brewing in the space between my ears. I drink because I dont like how or what I feel. However, I do believe that even if I could identify and get help for the underlying reasons for my drinking, I would still have to adress my alcoholism. Regardless of what I acomplish in any “self discovery” I still have and will always have a chronic dibilitating allergy to alcohol. Wish me luck!! I DO want sobriety very much.

  • Anonymous

    what do u mean by dont save them

  • ken higham

    i feel that if i am clean (dont have a drink all day ) i am ok and think this is fine .then Monday is good. then tuesday come and then i think 1 cant be bad,but i cant stop at 1 its got to be 2,3,4,5,6 etc till im at the point i feel that ok i dont need ant more im drunk!!! but what is drunk i dont feel drunk but i know i have had my quota??.My thought every morning is why ? .why did i drink so much that i feel so ILL I WILL NOT B DOING THAT AGAIN.yes right till the next time we have a a little one that then turns out to be 1,2, 5,8 and we all know the out come.We all do the same time aftertime we know its wrong and more to the point so our loved ones,After all they are more like Rodsand for some strange reason stand by (ME) us,But there must come a time even they say no more !!!! well i have been saying that for years.

  • Susan G

    I just wanted to see what the answer to my nagging question might be. It is the same story for the person in my life. Hes been drinking endlessly for years and years, and I have to sit by and watch, nothing I have ever said or done has made one damn difference. It is so frustrating, I even wonder if I’m to blame sometimes, but it’s like God says, every person is responsible for their own sins and actions. I’m frustrated through love not hate and there have been times where I thought maybe me telling them, might make a difference, it did, it made them drink a little more to forget the guilt I put in their thoughts. So “Don’t do anything”, you weren’t wrong, but everyone is different. The only thing I do now is pray to my father in Heaven, and I no longer feel guilty for not doing enough. Everyone has their own battles, I will also pray for each one of you, may God protect you all and give you the strength you need everyday, to get through this tough and harsh life. God Bless you all.

  • Penny

    I know knowing why someone drinks won’t cure their alcoholism but knowing why might help them not to take this first sip. I would think it would be hard to quit if you don’t know why and the outcomes of their drinking. Why do people over eat, why do people take drinks…etc. This article is an over simplication of a complex issue.