What do you do when an addict becomes angry and abusive?


I have been dealing with an alcoholic partner/best friend for many years. He is in end stage alcoholism and has tried to recover many times though inpatient, out patient, AA, and on his own. He is in and out of jobs and often goes through grueling detoxes. His finances and job prospects are very grim and he has little contact with friends and family due to the effects of many years of alcohol abuse. He is very isolated and I am one of the very few people left in his life. When he gets blacked out drunk he often gets verbally abusive and tries to push me away. I’m often left feeling hurt, abandoned, and neglected. He often blames, manipulates, gets demanding, and puts me down during these episodes. What is the best method when dealing with an alcoholic or addict who gets abusive and mean? We live separately, so I have tried blocking him and not taking his calls. However, he often will show up at my house with demands and more verbal abuse, so the chaos is often difficult to escape. In addition, those episodes are becoming more and more frequent. When he gets sober he often claims he remembers very little and is a completely different person. Sober, he is kind, loving, and a beautiful soul. I love him dearly but this has taken a toll on my energy. I have many things to be grateful for in my life such as a wonderful job, great kids, and a wonderful family and network of friends. However, I’m heart broken by the deterioration of a person I’ve loved for many years. I’m at a loss.


I’ve dealt with addiction where the other partner becomes verbally abusive. It is very hard to deal with. But I do agree with what he told you when he said not to respond to him when he’s like that. It may make him mad at first, but if he doesn’t get a reaction out of you, he will stop eventually. I know it is easier said than done, trust me. I have been there numerous times. They always tell you that they don’t mean it once they are sober, but it always happens again. Just shut it down, don’t respond. That’s the best advice I can give you.

The only way I was able to get my boyfriend help was to kick him out of my apartment in winter in North Dakota. Since your’s isn’t living with you, I would suggest not participating in anything when he’s like that. Don’t answer the calls, texts, or the door. If he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t care enough about the relationship to change. And trust me, you will be much better mentally.

I hope things get better for you. Feel free to talk to me whenever. :heart:


Thanks for sharing @Jess have you tried to talk to him about these events once he is sober? Setting up boundaries together in a collaborative way can be helpful and timing really helps to be heard.

Also, in two weeks on November 20th is our digital topic meetup on Positive Communication - this goes into detail on communication skills and you can RSVP for that HERE.


Thank you so much for your comment. It helps to know people have been there too and I’m not alone. See below for an update. :heart:


Thank you! He used to say he didn’t want to hear it. But my therapist advised me that he should know what behaviors he’s displaying when under the influence. So I’ve started to tell him. He of course says he doesn’t mean any of it and really when he’s mean he’s either trying to push people away or he’s talking to himself in a round about way. It still hurts tremendously though despite whether he means what he says or not.

He’s advised me to not respond when he’s like that, which is often easier said than done in the moment. I need to learn to shut it down and not feed into it from the first sign of alcohol induced negativity and abuse. It just gets very lonely on my side when things get like that.


I’m still really struggling with this. As his addiction gets worse, so do his abusive comments and behaviors. It’s taking a toll on my self-esteem. Does anyone have any experiences with this? What are some ways anyone has dealt with out of control anger or abusive behaviors. He’s blacked out drunk when he says these things so often doesn’t recall any of it. You’d think it would be enough to get help and get sober but unfortunately it hasn’t and it’s getting worse. Do they mean what they say?


This is so tough. I realized that my husband had actually no idea what he was putting me through when he got really drunk and instigated fights, yelled, etc. and that felt really unfair because I was miserable and he could apologize without knowing how actually bad it was. I agree with @Stephanie_Miron that it is not helpful to engage when they’re under the influence.

I also started to look at the things he was saying and sadly, it seemed like a lot of projection. That helped me understand the amount of pain my husband was in when he was using this heavily and for me, this helped me gain some compassion for him (which can be really difficult when things seem so chaotic). It was also important that I remembered to do whatever I needed in those moments (leave the house, cry, go outside, not respond to calls/texts, etc.) and forgive myself when I didn’t act in a way that I wanted to, as there were definitely times when I engaged and later was disappointed. I had to remind myself constantly that the only things I have control over is what and how I think, feel and act. Self-care is so critical in this time and finding support for yourself is a game-changer. As others have mentioned, therapy, the village weekly meetups, finding friends I could spend time with, journaling, and meditating were all super helpful to me during this time.

I also agree with Jane, I used the positive communication tips to communicate with him, when I felt it was necessary. Sometimes I found myself wanting to tell him every mean thing he said the night before (I was even tempted to write them down :roll_eyes:) and I had to examine my reasoning for doing so. If it was only to make him feel guilty, I would keep it to myself. He is already carrying so much guilt and it’s just not helpful, as this was often a trigger to drink more. If it was to communicate a need I had or a boundary that I needed to make him aware of, I would make a plan to communicate that to him. What that tended to look like was me saying something like “I’ve been really upset by some of the things you’ve said to me while drinking lately, and I know I’m not always good about not engaging when you’re under the influence so to avoid us getting into arguments when you’re drinking, I’m going to do X,Y, and Z (go to a friends, go to yoga, sleep in a different room, etc.) instead of spending time with you when I can tell you’re drunk and upset.” After communicating my boundaries with him enough times, he did eventually learn that I wasn’t going to take the bait and the fights decreased dramatically. I think modeling good self-care was helpful for him to see too.

And please know that you’re not alone in this :heart:


Thank you ladies! What helpful responses. Right now I’m working on taking care of myself and remembering that it’s the addict saying those hurtful words, not him. I’ve recently started to attend Alanon and I’m working on self-care. I’m setting better boundaries for myself and being ok with how things are in the moment. Things ended up getting extremely chaotic since this post. I had been holding onto his bank card for some time in which he took advantage of on the regular. On one particular night, he began to get verbally abusive with me on the phone. I cried as I drove to his apartment knowing that my only goal was to drop his bank card off and let myself be free from any control over his addiction. That particular night about two weeks ago, I came over to his apartment to complete chaos. He was in a blacked out drunken rage. He was nasty, verbally abusive, and things were strewn all about the apartment, art work all over the floors and thrown in the yard. I decided right then and there that I love him and I feel so much pain and empathy for him but I deserve better treatment then that. I laid the card on the table, blocked him on Facebook messenger, and left. He got a hold of me about three days later when he realized something horrible must have happened. He was immensely sorry but I could tell he was still under the influence. I stood my ground. I told him I love him but I can no longer put myself in the crossfire of his addiction. I told him I accept whatever he decides but I will no longer be able to put myself around him when he’s living a life of alcohol. He continued to drink for another week and a half. I continued to let him know I loved him but stayed a very safe distance. He lost his job, lost complete control over his life, lied to and used people in the AA community, and was drinking nonstop alone on his couch. He barely ate or slept for about a month. He finally asked me to take him to rehab and we went yesterday, detoxing, shaking, sweating, and throwing up as we packed his bags. He told me his hopes are to never have me see him like this again. I’m hopeful but very guarded as we’ve been down this road many times. I talked to him today and he sounded good. Hopeful and positive. If anything this journey has taught me a lot about embracing the happier times and being at peace with the present even if it isn’t what you want it think it should be.:heart:️ Thank you so much for the caring and empathetic responses. I read these messages and they stuck near and dear to my heart. It helps so much to connect with people who have been there and understand.


Taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do, especially while he’s in treatment. It took me so long to realize that I needed to take care of myself because I was so caught up in him, and us. The first 2-3 weeks were the very hardest for me when he was in rehab. It was horrible. He was so mad at me because I took his drugs away when it got close to being time to leave. He went in his crazy rage because drugs were all he thought about. He verbally abused me the entire drive there and made me feel so horrible. He made me stop at the liquor store so he could get Fireball on the way there too. He wouldn’t even let me go in with him to say goodbye once we got there. After that, I didn’t even hear from him for 2-3 weeks because he hated me for withholding drugs from him. I wasn’t even on his list of people that could call or visit. It made me crazy. I had anxiety up the wazoo. I thought for sure I was just never going to see him again. Eventually after my couple of weeks of roller coaster rides of emotions, I finally listened to you guys and started to better myself. I got sober, and stopped trying to contact him. I decided that if he needed to get rid of me to better himself, I needed to respect that. If he wanted to talk to me, he would. Not even a day later, I got a call from him telling me that he got a pass and that I should come and get him. When I got there, it was like nothing ever happened and it was still me and him, except he was so happy. Since then, I got him a second time, he moved to a sober living apartment, and we talk pretty much every day. I still don’t know what we are, but I don’t care anymore. I love him so much, and he’s happy. That’s all I was aiming for when I pushed him into rehab.

Keep concentrating on yourself. It gets so much better regardless of the outcome.


It brought up a lot of emotion hearing your story of getting your boyfriend to Rehab because I know how chaotic it can be. I’ve been there. Last year we tried to get him to inpatient and I still have no clue how I got him packed and to the facility but they had to call an ambulance because when we arrived he was at a .39 BAC. It was pretty traumatic. He had made me purchase a 5th of vodka which he proceeded to guzzle. He was falling over, wet himself, which I changed his clothes, he was screaming out in pain, all while I had to fill out the paper work for him. It was pure chaos. He refused to go to the hospital so I reluctantly drove him home left him on his floor of the apartment passed out. The next day he woke up and went to a meeting in which he stayed sober for 59 days. It was the most peaceful amazing 59 days of 2019! I loved every second of it. Then he relapsed over and over for much of 2019 losing jobs and in and out of IOP. It got really bad this past December. This time (December 27) he went willingly to inpatient detoxing and he really wanted to go this time. So far I’ve talked to him twice and he seems happy. He asked me if I’m holding up. The weird thing is I miss him a lot, but I’m relieved at the same time. It’s nice to know he is safe and getting help. It’s also nice to not have to deal with the constant turmoil of his addiction. I feel like I can breath a bit. I had a nightmare the other night that he checked himself out early. It makes me feel a bit guilty that I feel this way, but I look at the time apart as healing time for me too. Which is much needed at the moment.