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Alcoholic Blame

"Alcoholic Blame: Blaming the family often comes subtly. "
copyright 2011, all rights reserved

by Toby Rice Drews
author of the "Getting Them Sober" books


a. Does your marriage counselor want to ''explore what makes him drink"?

Many mental-health// marriage counselors say they 'understand' that alcoholism is a primary disease and 'understand' its dynamics in the family... but then go on to 'explore' with that couple, "what makes him drink".... even though the counselor just said that he 'understands' alcoholism.

In the counselor's encouraging the couple to 'search for what makes his client want to drink'' .... i.e., ''what are the stressors that 'trigger' his wanting to drink''-------- the alcoholic welcomes this approach because he knows that this will lead right to blaming his spouse--- overtly and covertly.... this time, with the professional stamp of approval from the counselor.

*** Basically, a 'gang-up' between the alcoholic and the counselor to blame the non-addicted spouse.

(See the free-to-watch video on the website--- in it, I talk about a couple who went to the 'best marriage counselor' in their State..... who heard both of them talk...who saw that the husband was a still-drinking alcoholic... and who heard and saw the wife's frustration and anger... and who then admonished the wife with this------- "Maybe he wouldn't drink as much if you smiled more." The wife later told me that it was a blessing that she could, right afterward, get to an Al-Anon meeting to recover from that marriage-counseling session.)

If any counselor says that one must explore 'what makes him drink'----- he does NOT understand alcoholism.

He does not understand that the alcoholic drinks because the Yankees won, because the Yankees lost, and because he's bored because the Yankees didn't play.... i.e., there is no 'reason' for the alcoholism other than it's a genetic disease that will manifest at some point if the alcoholic starts drinking.

And the alcoholic will continue to drink, telling the family and himself that "he drinks because x and y and z happened."

c.)) Nothing can ''get him drunk''........... not you, not his mother, not the job.

Counseling sessions like what was just described diverts from prescribing that (as A.A. says) no one ---- no one ---- no one ---- 'makes him drink'. That he drinks because of biochemical cravings because of his genetic disease-------and that if he does not stop blaming others for his drinking, he is in grave danger of dying or going insane from his disease of alcoholism.

In one fell swoop, this type of counseling damages both the alcoholic's chances of survival--- and inhumanely continues the alcoholic's years of blaming the family.

d.)) Are you being encouraged to "look at both parties' roles in what might have caused him to begin to drink alcoholically"?

This kind of marital//alcoholism//couples counseling these days usually goes by the name of "family systems and/or cognitive behavioral" approach, which almost always consist of sessions where "both parties" tell what they each see as "the cause of the drinking" ........ with the therapist also saying that yes, hereditary/genetic factors are ''part of'' the cause of alcoholism---but that other issues ''factor in'' (like "marital problems'').

This approach by the therapist necessitates the sessions blaming the spouse for drinking and relapses.... even though the therapist often denies this. He will often say, instead, "both parties have a role in the family dynamics"... which means that he really sees alcoholism NOT as a primary disease that has its own dynamic regardless of outside issues, people, or situations-------- as A.A. says-------- but as the result of mental-health // communication issues.

This is just gobblygook that has been going on in the mental-health profession for decades........but this time, under the guise of promoting itself as "understanding alcoholism as a primary disease''.

They never used to agree that it was a disease..........then, because of the huge success of A.A., they started to give verbal agreement that it is a primary disease.......but nothing in the approach of the actual treatment sessions has changed from the decades-long approach of the mental health profession, i.e., treating alcoholism as a RESULT of mental-health issues--------- instead of the primary disease that it is.

e.)) In the A.A. Big Book, there are stories in the back section. In many of them, they repeatedly state that during the drinking, they blamed their families for the problems in the family..........but that once sober and sane again, they saw that almost all the problems in the marriage were a result of their alcoholic drinking.


This difference in 'how to treat alcoholics and their families' is a daily life-and-death issue that manifests in our mental-health counseling centers, in our courts, in our divorce hearings, in our ad-litem-led custody conferences---- with hundreds of thousands of families every year.

Let's face it--- most spouses of alcoholics do not go to Al-Anon. If they go for help, they "go see a counselor".

All of these counselors (and psychologists and social workers) are trained to treat these alcoholics and their families in the professional schools of social work, psychology, psychiatry, and counseling. The major textbooks are rife with these outdated philosophies on how to do this.

Fortunately, despite all this--- there are (albeit only a minority) of therapists who do understand this, and who are not following how they've been professionally taught.

But it is so important for all family members who are confronting the court system---whether it is for 'family counseling' or for divorce mediation, or for custody hearings, etc-------- to understand what they will probably come up against---- that they will probably find that they will feel verbally attacked and often walk out of sessions not understanding why their guts are telling them that the alcoholism 'won again'.

Just that knowledge alone will give many family members the courage to say 'no' to that kind of counseling ---when they have the choice.

I say 'when they have the choice' because if they find themselves (as they often do) 'sent to' an ad-litem that the court designates to determine custody outcomes....... it often means that the ad-litem is a lawyer who went to a few courses on 'mental health counseling' ..... and has the approach that was just described.

Even though this will be crazy-making for that family member.. if that spouse/parent knows that this is going on... they will be angry of course...but they will feel less crazy-made because they will have the knowledge of what really happened.

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Phone: 410-243-8352 • Fax: 410-243-8558 • e-mail:
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