What is alcoholic behavior? Al-Anon calls it ‘crazy-making behavior’. Whether the person engaging in alcoholic behavior is drunk or just acting like one, alcoholic behavior is disturbing, frightening and impossible to interact with. First, one caveat: people who drink alcohol aren’t the only people who participate in addictive alcoholic behavior. Many a dry drunk and teetotaller engages in stinkin’ thinkin’ and alcoholic behavior. We call it alcoholic behavior to provide a frame of reference, a visual aid on what the characteristics of the behavior looks like. Alcoholic behavior is better named ‘addictive behavior. What does alcoholic behavior look like:
Alcoholic addictive behavior is irrational: Because the brain is doused in alcohol (or anger or some other kind of addiction), the mind focuses on the addiction. Addictive behavior does not process information clearly. It twists, distorts and otherwise confuses information that is clear to non addictive thinkers.
Alcoholic addictive behavior is self-centered: An over-inflated sense of himself, coupled with an impaired ability to concentrate and pay attention, makes the addict only focus on his needs, wishes, wants, fears, ideas, thoughts. Other people exist only as extensions of himself. The addict has pathologically low self-esteem and covers the feelings of inadequacy be projecting them onto others. His motto is ‘it is not enough that I should succeed; but that others must also fail.’
Alcoholic addictive behavior is both hyper-sensitive and overly critical: Because alcoholic addictive behavior is irrational and self-centered it makes the addict very intolerant of others.
Alcoholic addictive behavior is a drama queens and extremist: Did someone cut them off in traffic? The addict tells it like a car chase scene from a cop show. Addictive behavior is melodramatic. He’s been wronged. He’s a misunderstood hero. He’s a renegade warrior, a modern day Robin Hood, a saint among us. Conversely, the addict downplays others’ experiences. He scoffs behind their backs and pooh-poohs their experiences. He loves to be the center of attention.
Addictive alcoholic behaviors cheat, steal and lie: Promises are made and broken. Alcoholics make you believe lies. Alcoholics cheat, sneak and steal to get what they want. Alcoholics think rules don’t apply to them.
Alcoholic addictive behavior calls the shots: When he decrees that ‘everyone is just too serious’ we all must laugh. He goes out of his way to be a buffoon, to make everything silly. If you don’t choose to play, you are ‘too serious’, ‘can’t take a joke’. However, when he wants to talk seriously, jokes are scorned.
Alcoholic addictive behavior talks all the time and rarely listens to others: The addict goes on his soap box. He makes proclamations. He pontificates about the injustice in the world. He talks non-stop, rarely comes up for air and when he does, it’s not to listen to others, it’s to refuel for his continued diatribe.
Alcoholic addictive behavior has short-term memory loss about his own hurtful behaviors, but a memory like an elephant when someone else wrongs him. Others are expected to overlook, forgive and get over what he has done; alcoholics never forgive or get over what has been done to them, even when it’s something they only perceive as an insult. Intentions and motives only count when they involve something the alcoholic has done. It it’s something the alcoholic thinks has been done to him, he accepts no explanation of intent.
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